March 2 is the birthday of the doctor who prescribed books to a tiny kindergartner in Homer, AK. Chatting with blogging and facetime folks, many of us who were born in the latter part of the 60’s learned from something new called educational TV. The Public Broadcasting System was reaching out to children and a generation was caught. (I’m going to borrow heavily from YouTube)
Sesame Street taught me my letters (and numbers, but they weren’t as important. Sorry, Count!).
The Electric Company taught me how those letters worked (I am sure they also did numbers, but I can’t remember!).
School House Rock taught quite a few word things (and about the Bill on Capitol Hill). I’ve never forgotten this song!
Mr. Rogers, bless the dear man, taught me kindness and social skills. Then, I met Dr. Seuss when I was 5 going on 6 (or thereabouts). From him, I learned I didn’t need to wait for an adult to read to me. I could do it myself! The Doctor’s birthday is ‘Read Across America Day’ and this next week heralds Read an E-book week. I think the Doctor would smile.
I read a lot. Wordsmiths mean a great deal to me. The characters and stories and thoughts hid me during a tumultuous childhood, they have been my friends throughout my life seasons, and they teach me every time I open up pages to fall into their worlds again.
One of my favorite books (yes, I say this often) is ‘A Touch of Wonder’ by Arthur Gordon. I decided to take it off my headboard this month and was changed once more. It is full of short thought pieces of his life that encourage us to find and recognize wonder. He often writes about his journey as a writer. In one section he shares an encounter he had when he was a kid with an older man who he only knew as ‘the Teacher’. The man was sick, but gave of himself to a grubby boy who liked to fish. He told that kid, “Words..just little black marks on paper. Just sounds in empty air. But think of the power they have! They can make you laugh or cry, love or hate, fight or run away. They can heal or hurt. Rhythm..life is full of it; words should have it. listen to the waves on a quiet night; you’ll pick up the cadence. Look at the patterns the wind makes in dry sand and you’ll see how syllables in a sentence should fall…But, the magic he taught wasn’t confined to words; he had a way of generating in me an excitement about things I had always taken for granted. He night point to a bank of clouds. ‘Colors are not enough. Look for towers and drawbridges. Look for dragons and griffins and strange and wonderful beasts.’
This is also something I learned from the Doctor. To see something no one else does. It often identifies me as quirky and odd and on the other hand, it gives me a view beyond myself. I often talked to this tall guy on the lake near mom’s. I wave at him from the kayak. I’m always looking to see if he made it through another winter. No one else sees him, it doesn’t matter. He exists in my world and that is enough.