Monday, September 26, 2005

Coffee conversations

Even now, several days later, I'm astonished.

I loved shooting with that digital video camera.

Way too much.

Of course, my surroundings weren't bad.

Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernadino Mountains.

                        *     *     *

Tonight was a satisfying evening. 

A walk down to the village.  A cup of Starbucks coffee.

A quiet read.

Now that I think about it, I've been doing a lot of reading lately.

                        *     *     *

I spoke at length about my profession tonight.

So much that I felt like a recruiter officer.

But you can't blame me.  Within moments of beginning a conversation with the person behind the counter, I knew I was talking to someone who should be a teacher.

Of course, she was unaware of her calling. 

Anger clouded her vision of the future. 

Disgust toward past teachers who saw her as a threat, instead of a challenge.

The only profession that won't bore her is the teaching profession.

I know this.  

The only workspace that won't confine her is a classroom of bright students.

I know this too.


Because that's been my life.

I hope she figures out her calling soon.  Because she's already a junior at UCLA, and she's only 18 years old.

My perspective might be biased -- I've been in love with teaching since the age of 20.

                        *     *     *

I'm making my way through all of Erich Segal's novels again. 

They compel me.

His most powerful theme:  the clash between faith and reality.

                        *     *     *

Herschel would have long heart-to-heart talks with Linc.  He spoke of Berlin, Hitler's rise to power, the Nuremberg Lawsof 1935 depriving Jews of civil rights, and how he wished that, like his brother, he had seen the writing on the wall and left.  But he and Hannah had been so comfortable, so seemingly assimilated, that they had never dreamed the Nazis wanted to get rid of them.

They both talked compulsively of the camps, of the cruel "Selections" that determined who would live or die.  The Nazis only spared the lives of those who looked robust enough to work.  After they described how they had lost their little daughter, Linc had nightmares for a week.  He could not come to grips with hatred on so vast a scale.

Linc tried to understand their calamity in terms of the faith his grandma had instilled in him.

"Couldn't it maybe have been God's Will?" he asked them.

"His Will?" Herschel replied.  "To slaughter all the members of our family?"

"No," the boy said with feeling, "that he spared you two--so we could meet."

Herschel looked at him with deep emotion.  "Yes, even I could believe in such a God."

                       ~ Doctors, Erich Segal, 1988

                        *     *     *

We all leave the place of our birth.

We all return home.

Our only dilemma?

Which road we choose.


sistercdr said...

Having been far overexposed to the sappiness of the movie, "Love Story," when I was younger, Segall is an author I've never explored. When you say that his most powerful theme is the clash between faith and reality, my curiousity is piqued.  Will I have new additions to my reading queue?  Hmmm, we'll have to see.

stevendenlinger said...

Yeah, I liked Love Story the least of all of his novels (he also wrote scholarly works).  He shares the same Jewish awareness as Chaim Potak.  His characters are powerfully drawn, and skillfully textured.  If you're drawn to faith journeys, I recommend the following novels:  Acts of Faith, Doctors, and The Class.

Happy reading!


paulajlambert said...

Teaching really is, truly, such a gift. Not everyone who is actually in the teaching professsion has it--as evidenced by her unfeeling/unsympathetic professors, but for those who are truly aware of what they are doing and who are truly blessed with it as a gift, well, it really is something noble, isn't it? And it is easy to see in other people, when they have the gift. Telling that you recognized it in her. (You, it is obvious, have the gift, and weild it wisely.) I hope she comes to see it in herself--though it takes time sometimes, years even, but she will come to it if it is in her.

vxv123 said...

Good teachers, like you, in love with their calling are special people indeed.  I encounter many, and have nothing but admiration.  Beyond that, though, what a joy to be doing what you love - and are good at - for a living.  Yeah, the pay sucks, mostly, and more's the pity, for there are those who would be so good for all our kids but the money isn't enough - and they are not to blame for requiring more, I hasten to add.  I hope that young woman wakes up to her potential - and learns to tune out the negative, envious professors in her life.

As for Erich Segal - maybe I'll give him a second look, given your recommendation.  I certainly enjoyed Potok in my youth.  Like Cynthia, all I know is Love Story (although I have vague memories of being told that he did write "serious" fiction) and have to admit to bawling both at the movie and on reading the book.  And I didn't even find Ryan O'Neal attractive!  Unabashedly mawkish - that was me then (and maybe still, just a little).

Keep on keepin' on,


cloudlessangel13 said...

Yes, college is treating me well.  And as to shooting with a digital camera, believe me, I share your love, granted I am a little bit obsessed with all things technology, but hey.  I miss Starbucks though, only one in State College, I'm in withdrawal after having it just about every day for so long.  And I think I might need to read that novel you quoted, once I get a little time to myself.