About 10 years ago, I read about a young man who wrote and sent a thank-you note every day for a year. He started because he lost his job, felt depressed, and wanted to remind himself that he had a lot to be thankful for. He soon learned that he more out of saying thank you than simply counting his blessings.
In 2023, I’m taking a slightly different approach. I’m planning to publicly thank people who have had a positive impact on my life in ways they probably didn’t plan, and most likely did so without even realizing it.
A hat-tip to a teacher
In 7th grade, Mrs. B insisted we learn a poem every week. I was more interested in Arthur, who sat in front of me. And, I dreaded getting up in front of the class to read, never mind the agony of reciting by memory a poem with little meaning to me. Still, the dread of failure far outweighed fear and infatuation.
Mom listened and followed along, correcting me as I learned. First, a simple poem:
Trees BY JOYCE KILMER I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree... ...Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.
I often think of Mrs. B as Kilmer’s words pop into my head. It happens more times than I can say. Usually, while admiring the sun-dapple shadows through the tree leaves.
Next it was “The Village Blacksmith” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
UNDER a spreading chestnut tree The village smithy stands; The smith, a mighty man is he, With large and sinewy hands; And the muscles of his brawny arms Are strong as iron bands.
Don’t these words paint a beautiful portrait?
“The Chambered Nautilus,” “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” “About Ben Adhem,” and more.
Back in 7th grade, I memorized away because it was an assignment.
What a gift Mrs. B gave me.
I don’t remember discussing the poems or the poet. I remember the beautiful words. I love poetry now. Poetry inspires me. Poetry is like a painting. We can see different aspects of the artist’s work depending on the angle of our view and the attitude we bring to it.
Memorizing also exercised my brain to remember things. I truly believe that all that memorizing many facts that I came to understand and appreciate long after the fact.
While Mrs. B is probably gone, my appreciation remains.
Thank you Mrs. B for poetry seeds in my adolescent brain. The seeds took root; you have served me well.
Please feel free to join me in my “Hat-tipping” journey. Who do you wish to thank this week?