Sunday, June 1, 2014

Those Who Open Our Eyes

Many times in my life  I have fallen in love with the works of a brilliant playwright, author, philosopher, educator or actor only to realize that they have shuffled off this mortal coil.

And sometimes they were walking towards the exit just as I entered.  It's as if I looked down to discover the cigarette still burning but found myself in an empty room.

It was that way with Tennessee Williams.  I became addicted to his work and life in the autumn of 1983 only to realize he had died earlier that same year.  That realization hit hard because I imagined us sipping cocktails together in Key West whilst he shamelessly flirted and regaled me with stories of southern women and lobotomies.

I also missed out on a walk through Chartres Cathedral with Joseph Campbell, a dinner party with Laurence Olivier, and a fireside chat with Charles Dickens (although his cigarette was ash long before my obsession kicked in).

However, with Dr. Maxine Greene I got it right!

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a fantastic workshop with Dr. Greene through The Academy for Teachers (which I wrote about here).

Yesterday I received an email informing me of the sad news of her passing.  It turns out that her talk with us was her last.  And so ends a life of "passionate purpose".

I feel fortunate that I was able to hold her hand and look into her eyes to thank her for honoring teachers.  When she looked back at me it was with sincere gratitude for the work that I do, for the work all teachers are doing.  She said it was our work that informed and enriched hers.

At 96, she had such palpable passion and energy.  I was moved by the fact that she wanted to keep the conversation going and looked forward to conversing through emails.  Although her aging body was betraying her, her mind stayed sharp.  

Maxine Greene always seemed to be looking for a challenge, to find the places of discomfort and unrest so the struggle could bring a new level of understanding.

That workshop was an inspiration.

I look forward to continuing to learn more about her work and remain grateful that I didn't miss an opportunity to spend time with this incredible woman.


37paddington said...

This is a moving tribute to a great soul. Several great souls I was privileged to not miss out on exited this week. It was quite an august company at the crossing.

Gary said...

Wow, I just read your post about Maya Angelou and your beautiful words describing your experience with her. It's so lovely to share time with those we look up to and respect.

This little blog has given me so much. The opportunity to share stories with other bloggers and read the posts by authors and poets like you is a wonderful gift. It's another reason to be grateful.


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