(an aside: Never forget humble or poor working-class roots, and the people closest to you who worked hard to give you the opportunity, luxury, and privilege (they never had) to go to university and pursue a career you wouldn’t otherwise have had. One’s success is often built on the love and foundation provided by decent, underprivileged parents.)
We all have choices, options, opportunities, and possibilities. When I got to U of W, my life changed in so many ways for the better. Suddenly I had time to focus on reading literature and raising my sightlines in terms of values, the beginning of beliefs, etc.
My focus then was incoming ideas and views of human nature and life; this propelled me into teaching literature for the next 30 years in high schools. This thinking led to larger understandings and greater confidence which, in turn, led to the writing and editing of school textbooks and presentations at teacher conferences beginning in 1978.
I was a born teacher with much content and subject matter in my background, unlike English teachers today who are more tech-based with, typically, a much narrower subject-area base. Today, through my poetry, blogs, and workshops, I continue to stretch adults; also, in my role as a grandfather, I stretch two keen and curious grandsons.
Over the years, thusly, I became a collector of many books, much literature, movies, and music (a heady mix of pop, jazz, and classical). I’ve always been interested in the arts (including painting and sculpture), and my lifelong journey has always been squarely centered on the fine arts.
I would say, though, that this plane of higher regard has focused more on inner, spiritual nourishment after 1990 and retirement from teaching in 2002. Lately, that emphasis has grown stronger into a very comfortable zone with no discernible missing pieces of any consequence.
I still stretch and support those I have contact with (recently through manuscript editing) and find it easy to talk directly to other writers on an easy, intimate level with no obstructions. After all, we poets are most concerned with inner matters and have a mutual interest in Beauty and Truth.
“I love a broad margin to my life.’–Thoreau
I have pretty much limited my contacts with no-growth, limited, limiting others who are far less deep and significant than they imagine themselves to be. I have lots of time, more than ever, to reflect, meditate, and connect with nature. Can one ever have too much free time? Ha! Dumb question, if you know how to focus, follow your bliss, and actually do the many things you desire and choose to do.
So, as the world dumbs down, I have maintained my natural curiosity and desire to learn new things every day. I am constantly ‘putting things in’ via my studies, preferred sensibility, beliefs, and values.
“Education doesn’t change life much. It just lifts trouble to a plane of higher regard.”–Robert Frost
I think he’s right and that educating oneself does raise one, too, to a higher plane of regard. That responsibility is on the individual for growth and development, especially of the inner, spiritual kind. It’s all a matter of how and if one wants to really and fully live. A higher plane of regard? Who wouldn’t want to live there over the years and every day?