This is in response to this lovely little webcomic.
Three words: Dead. Poets. Society. It is a movie that anyone wanting to feel inspired (and depressed. Depressingly inspired) should watch. Truly though, it’s incredibly moving, and this comic was moving for me, as well. I am an English Literature major. Every day people wonder why in the world I am doing what I am doing. They question every motive, they berate every action. Shakespeare? What in the hell will Shakespeare do to help you put food on the table? I used to not have an answer for it. I’ve always known of the risk of being un-remarkably average, and I have tried my hardest to fight against it. But finding answers to the hard questions can be extremely difficult, and on many days, feel impossible.
Reading this comic though reminds me of why I do what I do, and what my answers would be. Shakespeare may not help put the food on the table, but he will help me appreciate it. Milton teaches me more about morals and even Christianity than the average Christian church in today’s society. Chaucer? Chaucer showed the value of embracing humans as exactly that–human. And with these guides (and there are more) I set out to live a life of change. Risk. Compassion. Love. Forgiveness. It is not about who notices me, who pays me what amount of money, how great I look compared to (insert name here), or getting every check on some sort of society standard list. It’s not about my resume. Sure, resumes, and work is important. I definitely do want a job. But it’s more than that! I want to get to the end of my life and have people able to show something that I did, something that truly impacted the world. I want some child in Africa to be able to remember me as the woman that built the orphanage for him and his friends, and taught him English and read him stories and told him that he would be someone some day. Maybe that same child will even call me “Mum” and by the end of my life gave me grand kids. I want to have reminded people what passion looks like, and that love is all you really need. I want to have made a considerable dent in the issues people with disabilities still have to face today. I want to be the change, not just see the change. And I think that is where this comic falls. it shows that we cannot do things just because society says it is normal or is going to benefit us. Society bans books, and books are one of the biggest benefits to humankind that we have ever known. Society is cautious of faith of any kind, but faith, true faith, has bonded people and saved nations. Society likes cold hard facts and in my life…I was born 1 pound, 11 ounces, and cold hard facts said, “She’s probably not going make it.” I turned 20 yesterday, Science. Joke’s on you.
Security is a grand thing. Money is nice. But I think the key is passion. The answer to the question “why?” You have your “what,” and you have your “how,” but many people forget why. Why do we do what we do? Why do we get up in the morning? What keeps us going?
I go back to Dead Poets Society for the answer, along with Walt Whitman.
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And humans are filled with passion. Law, business, medicine are all noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life, but beauty, romance, passion…those are what we stay alive for.”
There has to be motivation. For us to be truly living, we have to have something for our souls to thrive on, for our hearts to beat for. You can be a dead man walking. Alive but just a hollow shell.
Whitman wrote a poem, saying this:
“O Me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d; Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined; The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists, and identity; That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”
What will your verse be, in this powerful play called life? No matter what it is, the point is to try and make it a good one. Be remarkable. And be remarkably average. It’s the unremarkable that casts a dark shadow.