chose the step not taken.
Philosophy and Nonsense
(Thoughts about writing, education, and experience.) Presented by Forrest D. Poston
The first goal of teaching is to strengthen, deepen and refine our intrinsic love of learning. All other goals and all methods must stem from that idea. Any that do not support that goal must at least be questioned and adjusted, if not eliminated. Otherwise, we are not teaching but training.
Think, I dare you.
|And that has made all the difference.|
|Sadie on the
Bridge by Forrest
Herman left Sadie in a West Virginia coal camp with three small children and another coming. Life for Sadie had gone from difficult towards unbearable. In the 1920s, she had none of the options we might fall back on today long enough to get by, and coal camps were never populated by those with a lot to give, though some still found ways to help.
Only Herman’s lack of math skills took a little of the edge off the harshness and slowed the decline toward starvation. When company scrip was given out on payday, the man in charge shorted Herman and held back some food money for Sadie and the kids. This covert child support was a generous act but not enough.
Sadie struggled and searched for ways to keep her family together and alive, but solutions eluded her. Her last hope finding a way to reach Charleston and seek help from agencies there. She got to Charleston but found no help. With her last hope a bitter failure, Sadie decided that the only thing to do was take the children for a walk onto a bridge. It seemed a simple task now, the only answer she could see. She would push the two older children over and take the baby over with her last step.
Before and after this moment some would have called Sadie and much of her line flaky, and rightly so in many ways. A generation or so earlier, many would have said fey. Perhaps that has something to do with what happened next, with whatever actually happened on that bridge one step from embracing despair. According to Sadie, an angel appeared and told her not to take that step. The angel made no promises, but Sadie took the children home and hung on.
Eventually, George, another miner who had for some time tipped his hat and said hello on his regular trips past the house decided to tip his hat, say hello, and stop by. After that, Sadie and George had a till death do us part marriage that over time included a combined “yours, mine, and ours” family of 15 children. They were still in the coal camp, and life was by no means easy, but it was better. It could be endured without another trip to the bridge.
No one knows if Sadie saw an angel. Hunger can certainly affect the mind, or perhaps her subconscious managed to project the one image strong enough to overcome her desperation. Perhaps a simple glint of light grew with each telling of the story until the angel was born, or perhaps we can only say that the world is full of things we can’t know. Sometimes we have to be happy with the outcome even if we don't understand how it happened.
The ripples from that step not taken have widened through 4 generations now. Perhaps none of these people have kept the Bailey Savings and Loan from going under or any other acts on the scale of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, but that moment means everything to some of us, and however it happened we're glad that it did. One of the three children who walked back home from that bridge was my father.
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Writing and Education
Four Meanings of Life
Godot and the Great Pumpkin
A Major is More Minor Than
The Poetry Process (A look at 4 versions of a poem.)
Thoughts About Picking a Major
Quick Points About Education
Quick Points About Writing
Reading Poetry and Cloud Watching
Using an Audience
What Makes a Story True?
What's the Subject of This Class? (Being revised.)
Writing and Einstein (The Difference Between Information and Meaning)
Writing and the Goldilocks Dilemma
Links to Other Sites
Other Essays and Poetry
Something Somewhat Vaguely Like a Resume
Alec Kirby, Memories of an Earnest Imp
Being Like Children
Beyond the Genes (Dad)
The Blessing and the Blues
Bookin' Down Brown Street
The Cat With a Bucket List
David and the Revelation
The Dawn, the Dark, and the Horse I Didn't Ride In On (an odd, meandering, semi-romantic story)
Getting a Clue
Ghost Dancer in the Twilight Zone
The Hair Connection and the Nature of Choices
The Mug, the Magic, and the Mistake
Roto, Rooter and the Drainy Day
Sadie on the Bridge
Trumpet Player, USDA Approved
The Poetry Process
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