required reading: “the parable of the old men and the young”

10 11 2008

In honour of Remembrance Day.

“The Parable of the Old Men and the Young”

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

~ Wilfrid Owen


required reading: selection from Palmer Park

22 10 2008

I was fortunate to see everything at the local theatre festival this summer, and while I enjoyed pretty much everything I saw, the production that moved me the most was Palmer Park.  More of a docu-drama than a traditional play, it did ask some different questions and by the end I found that all too familiar lump in my throat.

The following quote is from the end of the play (not to ruin it for anybody or anything) and I find it is a passage I keep returning to over and over again because of the most basic truths that it captures:

Once upon a time there was an old Iroquois chief who was very disturbed.  His grandson approached him and said, “Grampa, why are you so troubled?”  The old chief said, “Son, I have two warring bears inside of me.  One is full of love and acceptance and kindness for everything in the world.  The other is full of anger and rancor and hate.”  The little boy asked, “Grampa, do you know which bear will win the war?”  The old chief answered, “Yes, I do.  The one that I feed.”

required reading: mother to son

23 02 2008

Work has been keeping me really busy (but what’s new there).  That means no time for reading or blogging about the reading I’m not doing.

I did discover this poem while prepping my poetry unit and it is now one of my favourites.  A little Langston Hughes for all of you:

Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

required reading

1 12 2007

Until regular posting resumes (in a week or two), I’m going to indulge in some nepotism and suggest you head over to the Artsy Mama’s blog.  She’s got quite the gem of a blog there, always finding beauty in the most surprising and everyday things and she reminds me on a daily basis about what’s important.  And she manages to post every day, unlike some who’ve not posted in months at a time…

Required Reading: Horseradish

9 08 2007

The Artistic Mama purchased me a copy of Lemony Snicket’s Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid a few months ago and I keep it by my desk and read through a few pages every few days. As I’ve just started a new novel and don’t have much blogging to do about it yet, I thought I’d share a couple of my favourite passages from Horseradish.

First off, there is this one in the school section:

Most schools have a system

of loud bells, which startle

the students and teachers at

regular intervals and remind

them that time is passing even

more slowly than it seems.

It’s terrible, but so true. Some days the minutes just dragged. The first time I lecture my own course – not TAing, not 50 minute tutorials, but a proper 3 hour class that was all my responsibility – I prepared material for what I thought would be 2 and a half hours plus other miscellaneous administrative stuff and ended up only taking 45 minutes. Trial by fire. I did some quick thinking that afternoon and now I never ever step foot inside a classroom without at least 5 back-up activities.

Now this one probably needs no explanation:

Never trust anyone

who has not brought

a book with them.

And finally, there is this one, which I probably should read on a daily basis:

The thing you hope will never

happen to you might just

happen to someone else

instead, who has been

spending their life dreading

the thing that will

happen to you.

Fear, fear of all sorts of things and the futility of that fear. That’s what I need to remember, what I need to stop worrying about. It’s a bit of a daily struggle to be honest. I’ve written a creative non-fiction piece about it, which I’m hoping to revise and send off and that’s helped and just being useful, that helps too. I need to be more useful.

I think Horseradish is a good book to have on hand, the kind that you can browse though, skim through even – and each time to do a different passage will strike you and speak to you, just as different books speak to you at different points in your life. It’s all about what you need or searching for at that particular moment.

Required Reading #3: What is the What

16 04 2007

Because it is brillant. Because it took me far too long. Because it made me cry. Because you must.

Required Reading #2: Taking Chances

20 03 2007

Yes, it’s been a long time. There are many reasons, none of which I’ll go into right now and this won’t even be a “proper” post. I’m cheating by doing another “Required Reading.”

This book holds a very special place in my heart. I have quite a few favourite books. I can’t pick just one, all of them seeming to fall into specific categories of favourites. And yet, there is something about this book.

It’s a book about taking chances and that’s been on my mind a fair bit. I’m a bit like Valancy – the before Valancy – whereas I would much rather be like the after-Valancy. She goes a bit mad, with her crinkled green hat, but still, who wouldn’t go a bit mad with such a daring bid for independence and life – crinkled green hat and all.

It’s a book about life, but even more importantly it’s a book about living.