The wisdom we gain in our lives has many teachers. The most obvious, of course, stand in the front of our classrooms or sit at the head of our family dinner table. But other profoundly influential teachers are less obvious, such as when our natural surroundings convey profoundly important life lessons. Albert Einstein once said, "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." And we hear similarly wise words from 13-year-old Theo Richter
Even for the most seasoned Rhode Islanders, the Ocean State harbors lots of savory secrets, some tucked away in the folds of South County's farmland and others in Woonsocket's triple deckers. Within our roughly 1,000 square miles we are surrounded by a wonderful mix of compelling scenes and sounds that help shape our lives. This encore poem by Rhode Island's poet laureate emeritus, Tom Chandler, about a tall treasure in Foster that is part of who we are.
Tom Chandler is poet laureate of Rhode Island emeritus and associate professor of creative writing at Bryant University. He has been named Phi Beta Kappa Poet at Brown University and has been a featured poet at the Robert Frost homestead. Chandler is the author of five books of poetry, including his most recent, Toy Firing Squad. His work has been published in Poetry, Boulevard, The New York Quarterly, The Christian Science Monitor, and many other journals.
Years ago the famed theologian Paul Tillich wrote: “Language... has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” Isn’t it true that so many of us struggle with the challenging tension between the unmitigated joy of being by ourselves and the occasional agony of unbidden loneliness? We hear writer Nancy Kirsch’s thoughtful and not-so-solitary reflections on this very complex subject.
Nancy Kirsch has worked as a lobbyist, corporate lawyer and, most recently, as editor of The Jewish Voice, the newspaper of record for Rhode Island’s Jewish community. An award-winning writer, she is now engaged in freelance work. Kirsch lives in Providence.
It seems almost trite and hackneyed to say that we human beings thrive on trust, on being able to connect with others in a way that feels truly safe. But as we make our way through life’s complicated journey – flourishing here and stumbling there – it really does seem that being able to trust the people who are central in our lives is essential. The 19th century Russian author Anton Chekhov put it so well: “You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.” And that’s what we hear from Matthew Eriksen.
Matthew Eriksen is a Professor of Management, Faculty Director of the Leadership Fellows Program, and Coordinator of the Leadership Development major in the School of Continuing Education at Providence College. He also engages in life, leadership and team coaching.
For many of us, music is central to our lives, whether it’s in the form of casual listening on our MP3 players, as spectators at symphony concerts and the opera, or as passionate performers. Shakespeare’s Duke Orsino put it one way in Twelfth Night, “If music be the food of love, play on.” For others of us, music has been our salvation, a remarkable source of comfort and confidence, as we hear from thirteen-year-old .
Sometimes in life we learn remarkably important lessons from unlikely sources. Perhaps a passing comment from a taxicab driver that resonates in profound ways. An eye-opening anecdote shared by the stranger in the adjacent airplane seat. Or the spur-of-the-moment comment made by the new neighbor who’s out walking her dog as we’re weeding the garden. Isn’t it wonderful how these surprise moments in our lives have the capacity to teach us true life lessons? And that’s what happened to Jill Pfitzenmayer.
Tell the truth. How many of you can recall the names of your graduation or commencement speakers? Most likely, many of us just came up empty. Perhaps graduates let their minds drift during these all-too-predictable speeches. Or they reflect on precious memories that are bound to fade, or fantasize about our uncertain futures. How many of us really focused on the graduation speaker’s skillfully crafted words? Well, graduation season is fast approaching. Listen very carefully to a very unusual graduation speech imagined by Sarah Morenon.
Is it really possible to say something about love that hasn’t already been said? Our lives have been saturated with thousands of love poems, love stories, and love scripts played out on stage and screen. Yet every once in awhile we hear a fresh take on the subject, as in this well-timed essay by Kelly Vail, whose words anticipate the Father’s Day that’s just around the corner.
Ah, the joys of growing up. Looming independence. Escaping the clutches of parental supervision. Pursuing one’s dreams, no matter how fanciful. And then, of course, reality manages to rear its head. As the playwright Tom Stoppard said, “Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.” But the wisest among us learn that even the dashed dreams of our lives as they unfold offer opportunities for wisdom, as we hear from a remarkably insightful 13-year-old, Jacob Wassouf.
Every one of us has a story - make that lots of stories - that define who we are. There are those life-altering events during childhood, perhaps our first love or our first heartbreak, or the stories that come out of our adult lives that are so very complex. Some of us are eager to share our stories with anyone who will listen, but as Bill Harley reflects in this encore essay, others of us are much more quiet about the stories that shape our lives.
Bill Harley is a two-time Grammy award-winning artist who uses song and story to paint a vibrant picture of growing up, schooling, and family life. A longtime commentator for NPR's news program "All Things Considered" and recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, Bill tours nationwide as an author, performing artist and keynote, speaker.