Sunday, October 26, 2014

Suck Out All the Marrow of Life

The morning was a roller coaster of emotions ending with tears. How had I forgotten how sad it would be?

Waking up to another gorgeous, warm day, I walked the two miles to Movieland to see "Dead Poets Society," the last in their month-long tribute to Robin Williams and the first one I'd made it to.

As is typical with me, the last time I'd seen the film was when it came out, so 1989.

Not a lot of people showed up at 11 a.m. on Sunday besides three couples and another woman who kept getting up during the movie and leaving.

Other than "carpe diem," I honestly remembered very little of the story beyond Robin Williams being the teacher and inspiring a love of poetry in high school boys.

So I admit I got carried right along with those boys as he expounded on the virtues of non-conformity, taking opportunities as they arise and making the most of every single day. While I like to think that I live my life that way already, it never hurts to be reminded.

And as a poetry lover, it was perfectly lovely to hear snippets of Keats, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Frost, Shelley and Thoreau.  As a fan of Williams' lightening fast humor, it was hilarious to hear lines such as, "I was the intellectual equivalent of a 98-pound weakling. I would go to the beach and people would kick copies of Byron in my face!"

And as far as essential truths go, none are closer to my heart than, "Language was developed for one endeavor and that woo women!" Any man who doesn't know that is already a 98-pound intellectual weakling.

What my memory had blocked out of the 25-year old movie was the suicide of the student and the teacher's subsequent dismissal on trumped up charges.

That last scene where Williams comes back into the classroom to collect his "personals" and the students most feeling his loss stand on their desktops and call out, "O, captain, my captain" to acknowledge how he's changed their lives, how they think, act and feel had tears just rolling down my face.

Wiping them off and putting my sunglasses on for the walk home, I focused my thoughts on the movie's primary message.

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.


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