Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Leaving Gilligan's Island

 When I was a teenager experiencing adolescent angst, I was trying out my coping strategies. One was to escape into daily reruns of Gilligan's Island and McHale’s Navy.  Gave me some respite and that’s not to be entirely dismissed. But hardly a healing practice.


Another was to go deep into it by memorizing all the words to Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row. That was a bit better, owning the feeling, staying with it, feeling it expressed artistically and even secretly relishing my posture as the disaffected youth. (The other day, I listened to it again and could remember all the words in this 13-minute song!).


But my trustiest friend during this period was Thoreau’s Walden, a book that helped lift me out of the human world of emotion into a larger realm of plants and animals that didn’t whine about their condition and seemed to be wholly at home in their own selves and wholly a part of something larger. I took his advice to notice, to praise, to connect with the natural world by walking through the woods at nearby Watchung Reservation. I remember one day taking a walk to Surprise Lake there and sitting watching the water and feeling the self-obsessed human worries start to dissolve and float away— a surprise indeed! Walking the path back to my car, I remember a new lightness in my step and smile on my face and as I passed people going the other way, I greeted them with a knowing grin. I felt like I simply had to share the good news that there is more than we think out there (and in here) awaiting us. (I’m sure the Missionary mentality began with a religious awakening or insight that sincerely desired to share it with others before it devolved into a tool for colonial oppression and intolerance of other ways of awakening.)


And so yesterday, after a most delightful day subbing, yet again teaching music to kindergarten, 2nd and 4th graders, I was so overcome by the delight and the happiness of each class that I felt the need to share it. (Indeed, these entire eleven years of blog-posting is nothing but that desire to share in action.) I was poised to sit down and describe each glorious detail, with special attention to two particularly inspired 4th grade classes. 


But it’s a bit like describing the great meal you just ate. You can give a distant taste of it, but in the end, you just had to be there. 

At any rate, I'm happy to report that I've come a long way from Gilligan's Island and Desolation Row. 

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