To Look is Not Enough
Today I learned that one of my beloved high school teachers died. When I think of him, I think of the teacher Robin Williams played in Dead Poet Society, one of my favorite films. I took two of his classes way back then, creative writing and film study. Both changed my life, not because of the classes themselves, but because of the man who taught the classes.
How fortunate I was at such a tender age to be taught that to feel deeply is to attend life's "feast" and that finding a way to express it is to preserve the memory and testify that we were not only present, but truly aware of the banquet. He said, "To look is not enough, the unexpressed act is not fully experienced...to complete an experience we must find a way to express it."
O Captain. My Captain.
When Robin William took his life, I stood on my chair in mournful protest. Today I stand on my dining room table in remembrance of the gracious man who lit the candle by which I dine.
His son Keith shared this message from his father...
"He also asked me to remind you that he led a full and rich life, and that your presence in it contributed immeasurably to his happiness. Finally, he wanted you to know, deep in your heart, that very nearby there's another magnificent room graced by a splendid table where the feast continues."
These words are emblazoned on my heart...
"There is a poem by Victor Hugo that ends with these words: I'll soon leave in the middle of the feast, but the world will lose nothing of its size and glory.
I think that's mostly true, but it may not be the whole truth. What matters is the feast. We have all been invited. A few, in their ignorance, refuse the invitation. Others, in their ignorance, get up in the middle of the feast and never return.
Most, however, remain at the festive table. Their lives are rich with life's joy and life's sorrow. They laugh with all of their laughter and cry with all of their tears. To be at the feast is to experience life fully. When it is their time to turn down an empty glass and go their solitary way, they do so graciously and give thanks for having been invited. Some of the guests try to capture special moments, make an attempt to preserve those experiences, both large and small, when they were truly alive, intensely aware, passionately involved. In these efforts, they preserve, if not the feast itself, at least its memory. They leave evidence to testify that they were in attendance and that they, indeed, attended."
(More favorite words from a man who lived it fully.)
Sir, I will miss your presence at earth's festive table, please save me a seat beside you at the next one.
For Charles F. Greiner who left the feast 8/20/14 at 3:47pm.