Perhaps it is because of my studies through Naropa that I have taken to seeing things with a new eye. Or perhaps it is because I am reading books with my students that I first read as a child, and I have a whole new perspective on the words and the story as I am re-reading the books as an adult. Or, perhaps, it is because I keep searching for the connections between literature and life that I keep finding priceless lessons within the pages. Whatever it is, it is exciting and wonderous, and I am always so thrilled when my students "get it" too (sometimes I point it out, but often they see beyond the black ink as well).
We just finished reading Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth this week, as our read-aloud book during homeroom. In the story, Milo, a boy who finds his life to be a complete bore, happens upon a car and a tollbooth in his bedroom one afternoon, and is whisked away on a grand adventure. With a Humbug and a "Watch" dog as companions, Milo is determined to rescue two captive princesses, Rhyme and Reason, and restore them to their thrones. Along the way, Milo becomes "curiouser and curiouser." After finding the princesses, Milo returns to his bedroom realizing that life isn't boring at all - that it's actually, a wonderous journey where there is much to experience along the way.
Here is an excerpt:
“You may not see it now,” said the Princess of Pure Reason..."but whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else, if even in the tiniest way. Why, when a housefly flaps his wings, a breeze goes round the world; when a speck of dust falls to the ground, the entire planet weighs a little more; and when you stamp your foot, the earth moves slightly off its course. Whenever you laugh, gladness spreads like the ripples in a pond; and whenever you’re sad, no one anywhere can be really happy. And it’s much the same thing with knowledge, for whenever you learn something new, the whole world becomes that much richer.”
“And remember, also,” added the Princess of Sweet Rhyme, “that many places you would like to see are just off the map and many things you want to know are just out of sight or a little beyond your reach. But someday you’ll reach them all, for what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow.”
- From The Phantom Tollbooth, p. 233-234
A good reminder, I'd say, about trust, staying present, gratitude and perspective.