Nothing tickles me more than reading my students’ writing when it sparkles. Last week, for instance, I read about a boy who plays baseball “for the man in the clouds”—his grandpa. In that one phrase I see the baseball field in May, those huge cumulous clouds and Michigan blue sky. I hear the crack of the bat and see this seventeen-year-old glance up for a moment as he takes the base.
Now it’s not always easy getting them here—I push. I prod. I question … my voice trails off, hoping they fill in the blanks and capture again their five-year-old selves. You remember, those kids who invent words and dance in the outfield– who tell stories about riding in a parade. Before Twitter and driver’s licenses and Snapchat and high school dances in the gym.
I thought about all this after reading this Huff Post Books article today (link). In 2006, Xavier High school students were asked to write to an author for an assignment. Five wrote to Kurt Vonnegut–and he was the only one who responded.
Now getting a letter from a writer such as Vonnegut would be treat enough. But his advice? If only.
If only my students would keep close to that five-year-old they once were. If only they would dance and sing and paint and write, they’d sparkle. Not for me, mind you, but, in Vonnegut’s words, “to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”
If only we all grew our souls deeper and wider, even just a little bit, every day. Because, really, what else is there to do to make our days matter?