Part of my suspicion of rereading may come from a false sense of reading as conquest. As we polish off some classic text, we may pause a moment to think of ourselves, spear aloft, standing with one foot up on the flank of the slain beast. Another monster bagged. It would be somehow less heroic, as it were, to bend over and check the thing’s pulse. But that, of course, is the stuff of reading—the going back, the poring over, the act of committing something from the experience, whether it be mood or fact, to memory. It is in the postmortem where we learn how a book really works. Maybe, then, for a forgetful reader like me, the great task, and the greatest enjoyment, would be to read a single novel over and over again. At some point, then, I would truly and honestly know it.
They want to see the 53rd explosive ordinance division of the U.S. Military come down and hand over their million dollar robot to teenagers. And then I realize that is what the Army does everyday.
Matched, as we know from the dating world alone, is a coded word. My spouse and I were matched with birthmothers not once, not twice, not three times, but a total of five times. The most horrible things kept happening: Birthmothers and those posing as birthmothers, birthfathers and those posing as birthfathers lied to us. Birthmothers are doing a very selfless and generous thing when they decide they are unable to parent and place their child with wanting parents. It is a decision made out of big, big love for that child. Adoption, when it is successful, is a wonderful thing. But everyone coming to it is grieving in some way. It would be wrong not to acknowledge this.
— from “The Dark, Sad Side of Domestic Adoption” by Jennifer Gilmore.
In the end, the dismal findings about boys in Wayward Sons, together with special education data that indicate that too many boys have difficulty in today’s classrooms—and that disabled identification is an oft-used solution—should prompt rethinking about how schools educate boys. Is special education the only—and best—solution for behaviorally- or learning-challenged boys? Could schools better meet boys’ needs through single-gender schools or classrooms? Could schools ratchet up efforts to recruit and retain male teachers? … Should schools carve out more recess or physical education time for boys? What about establishing more vocationally focused high schools?
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth. You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
— Bill Watterson
We need to stop having these extreme arguments, between “No excuses!” on one side and “It’s all about poverty!” on the other. Poverty matters immensely. Schools matter immensely. Let’s get on with addressing both.