Mrs. VanDuesen was my eleventh grade English teacher. And it was in her class that I learned the skill of critical reading -- that is to say she taught me to read critically.
Her tool of choice was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and in retrospect, she may have chosen the controversial novel in part because of it's obvious teaching-points, but it is more likely she chose the novel on account of her childhood in the Baptist south. I can vividly recall her colorful stories: choirs singing, large black women hailing the heavens with arms open, and fire-and-brimstone sermons. Huck Finn is a story that felt like home to Mrs. VanDuesen; and isn't it always a treat to learn from someone feeding on familiarity and comfort?
A pillar of VanDuesen's teachings was character transformation. It was, she taught, Huck's journey away from his familiar village which catalyzed an evident metamorphose into the liberal, negro befriended Huck we find in the final pages of the story. The key to Huck's transformation was a change of setting. This simple teaching has since resonated with me -- I carry Mrs. VanDuesen with me everywhere I go. Each time I make a decision, every time I move, when I lick each stamp to mail a resume` her life lesson is echoing in my cerebrum.
Last Thursday, I walked into the boss's office with a resignation letter in my jacket pocket. I later walked out of that office without the letter a a sense that I was at the beginning of something new.
It had been months since I felt any personal growth in my current position. And while lying sleepless in bed at night, I could not logically find a way for me to spread my wings and head upward. Work had become stagnant. Work made my life stagnant. And I had stopped writing altogether.
As I embark on a new engergy, I come back here to find many of my blogging buddies have themselves gone the way of Huckleberry Finn. I can only hope they are on the edge of something as refreshing as I am.
We join our regularly scheduled [newly improved] life, already in progress..........