Monday, September 24, 2007

Old School, New Students

A writer/blogger friend, gave me a head's up on a "hinky" affiliate, so I've deleted that widget and the post about it (I know you wondered how it vanished!).

In keeping with the theme of writing as another writer/blogger friend, Becca, advises (and my other writer/blogger friend, Julia, so graciously reminded me), I have decided to share an essay that was published in last year's Progress Edition of my hometown Newspaper.

Ok, here's the essay:

(Don't critique me too harshly! This was my first published piece ;-) smile)

"Old School, New Students" *


Michele L. Tune

When I think of (my hometown) and the surrounding Ozark area, I envision clear rivers and streams freely flowing--Children wading in the shallow water’s edge, inner tubes and boats filled with families and pets taking in the picturesque scene as the river carries them out of view.

Closing my eyes, I can almost smell the cedar and pine trees after a rain and oh, the abundant wild life scampering in the forest, as well as in plain sight, is the icing on the cake!

But, I also see a way of life that is dying, an old-fashioned path of yesteryear--of days gone by--the simple things in life like honesty, integrity, humility, true friendship, neighbors helping neighbors, a hard, faithful work ethic, a youthful zest for life, joy for a new day at the breaking of dawn... Watching the sun come up as a sweat breaks on the brow, but smiling because of the heart-filled pride of having a job and supporting or contributing to the family. The old school… Almost extinct, sadly endangered like so many rare species of animals and wild life. What to do?

Looking around I see fine folks like Ms. Garnet Hunt White. What a beautiful lady! A retired schoolteacher, well-known published author, strong pillar in our community, resilient, wise--so full of knowledge!

With so much to teach and share and such a youthful energy to experience what each new day has to bring, she is a role model to me as well as anyone who wishes to take a moment to study her life. Taking each day by storm, she lives life to the fullest never wasting a moment.

As she sat at my dining room table recently, her advice to me was, “Michele, write down the stories your mother and father tell you. They’ll be gone one day and you’ll wish you had taken the time to document what they know. I wish I had written down more of what my mother told me; I’ve now forgotten some of what she said.”

“The tradition and wealth of knowledge that can be passed on is a priceless treasure that money can’t buy”, Ms. White shared.

I will forever treasure her advice and most definitely, I will follow it!

Time is slipping through our fingers like sand in an hourglass. So precious is the time we have on earth, the opportunities that we have to make a difference, to love, share, give, and learn…

So many people today feel that they know it all, that there’s nothing they can learn. But they are so wrong. The reason Ms. White is such a remarkable lady is because she’s open to learning something new each and every day! And though she is a retired schoolteacher, she still desires to be taught and that is a valuable trait to have.

As father time presses on, tick.. tock.. tick.. tock.. I desire to fill the “old school” to capacity with a classroom of new students.

The generation that is leaving us is priceless and rare and in order to keep the Ozarks and the world the way we love them, we need to forge on and instill in this younger generation lessons that will not only withstand the test of time but also make our time here more valuable and enjoyable.

Broken homes, families, lost children, shattered dreams… It’s everywhere. But it’s not too late to try and rebuild what has been torn down because our teachers are still present; it’s the class that has been “playing hooky”.

I challenge our community to raise its standards in all aspects. I challenge our elders to “give it all you’ve got” to instruct the younger generation. And I challenge our youth to surrender your will and open your heart and mind to learning, while taking notes.

The Ozarks are beautiful and ever changing; life is even more beautiful. And with the magnificent country and unique individuals like Ms. White as my inspiration, I know I’ve yet to experience all the great things life and (my hometown) have to offer me.

Several months ago, as my mother read the Writer’s Guild meeting announcement in the Prospect News she said, “Michele, you’re going to that meeting.”

Of course, I laughed but as always, “Mother knows best…”

Gratitude doesn’t begin to describe my appreciation to her. From nursing me during years of sickness, surgeries, and depression to the encouragement and support she has given me daily, my mother is the reason I’m alive and pursuing my dreams today.

You see my dreams were once shattered. I am a survivor of domestic violence and my past is filled with violent pain and bad memories.

But as I sit here at the computer with tears filling my eyes, I am overwhelmed with a sense of hope as my pain transforms into strength and my once forgotten dreams rise from deep within.

My dream since childhood was to be a published author. And as I type this article for the newspaper, I realize that dreams do come true--even lost and shattered ones.

Ms. White and all the ladies of the local Writer’s Guild have forged ahead of me, accumulating educational knowledge of life and I now have the great opportunity to draw from their experiences. Through their writing, I have come to know them personally. Their words are so vivid, it’s as if I’ve always always known them. Retired schoolteachers, inspiration, and cherished friends, I love and appreciate them each and every one.

Ecclesiastes chapter three verse one says, “To every thing there is a Season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...”

With the changing seasons, nature takes winter and gives us spring. An entire generation is leaving us. The question is, “Will we glean from them and pass along those past treasures to the coming generations?”

Let us walk this path behind them with pride. Fresh dreams and goals are there for the taking, new memories, new lessons to be learned from the old school, and the new…

* First appeared in The Prospect-News, Progress Edition, November, 2006

And, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my first published piece! Do you remember your first published piece? What was the title? What was it about? Do you want to share it on your own blog?

Happy writing/blogging the cyber highway!!