Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ripples in the water

Prop your feet back a minute and listen to this story. Chances are you'll be able to relate.

I went to the lake a few weeks ago. While there, I sat out near the water for a few minutes, soaking up the sun and thinking about life. I picked up a rock and threw it, watching the ripples the stone created float off into the water.

Ripples in the water from one little stone.

Go with me back to a place few want to go, to that dreaded time known as middle school. A skinny, insecure little boy with glasses isn't too certain what the future holds. He's kind of shy. Doesn't talk that much. Keeps to himself as much as he can.

The teacher likes him. Plays trivia with him. Talks baseball and music. Sees a spark and encourages it.

The time comes to assign papers. The teacher lets the student do a paper on Richard Nixon and Watergate.

The student is inspired. He starts reading more and more American history. Watches a documentary on Watergate. Develops a hobby.

That spring, just before the end of the year, the school holds a talent contest. One of the student's peers hears him singing during a study period. She encourages him to sign up for the talent show.

"Nah," he says. "I can't get up in front of people and sing."

She grabs him by the arm and takes him to the teacher in charge of the show. Sign ups are over. But, the teacher says, let me see what you have in mind.

So he sings a song. The teacher loves it. "You're in," she says.

The student beams.

Next day is the talent show. The kid gets up there, prepared for the worst. The ovation is so loud, they have to stop the talent show. They bring the kid out for one more curtain call.

He can't believe it.

The kid starts believing in himself. Finds he likes to talk to people. Gains confidence.

He gets to high school and starts speaking out in class. He loves history and English. Learns how to write.

His passion for history leads to some great friendships -- including one with the guy who became his best friend. That best friend, by the way, is now a high school history teacher. He's one of the most popular teachers at his school. The best friend married his high school sweetheart, who is also a teacher. They are making a happy life for themselves here in Halls.

The kid kept singing, too. Some friends encourage him and join in. They put together their own show and raise money for scholarships.

In high school, he finally starts to fill out and got contact lenses. Girls take notice. Some start flirting, including the girl who became his first love. His confidence builds.

Another teacher notices his passion for history. He challenges him, busts his butt when he slacks off, encourages him to think for himself. His English teachers tell him to keep writing.

He goes on to school, majors in history and minors in English. His college teachers tell him he's the best student they've ever had. His family encourages him to keep writing. The local newspaper publisher lets him do a movie review here and there, finally lets him do a music/entertainment column once a week.

He graduates from college. Isn't sure what to do with his life. He remembers the community newspaper publisher. E-mails her about a job in Nashville.

"Sounds good," she says. "But would you like to come to work for me?"

So he does. And finds his life's calling. He leaves for awhile, but comes back. He's happier than he's ever been in his life.

He keeps singing for awhile, finally gives it up when things get too busy. Just sings in the shower now and here and there. One night his best friend asks him to go with a group of friends to a karaoke joint.

He doesn't want to. He's recovering from the depression that almost took his life. But he's happier now, the medicine is working, and he's back at the job he loves.

"Why not," he thinks. So he goes.

They want him to sing. He falls back on the familiar, sings "Suspicious Minds." Folks pat him on the back. In the process, he meets a new friend, a musical soul mate, who reminds him what life is all about.

He is reminded that good music and good friends can go a long way. He gets better. He gets back to the business of living life.

Today he's living his dream. He's got a great family, a great job, the best friends in the world, and a song in his heart. He found out all those history books he read and all those papers he wrote in school prepared him for his job. And those contacts he made when he was singing? Yep, that helped, too.

He's still waiting to find that special woman to share his life. But he knows that, too, will happen one day.

Last summer, the middle school teacher who gave him the assignment about Nixon years ago called him about a story he was working on about a high school buddy who was killed in Vietnam.

The teacher talked about how the tragedy behind the friend's death made him want to help others. So he became a teacher.

And the student he had inspired was now writing a story about it. He would have never been a teacher without his friend's death. And the student wouldn't have gone on to realize his dreams if he weren't a teacher. It had all come full circle.

Ripples in the water. All from one tiny little stone.


Blogger Owned by my dogs said...

I think this is my favorite blog you've written so far. Really.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

by the way..."owned by my dogs is me."

1:58 PM  

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