Friday night I saw a local production of Death of a Salesman at Theatreworks in Colorado Springs.
Last time I had anything to do with this play was somewhere back in university when it so underwhelmed me all I remember is a professor droning, “LO-man. LO-man. Think about that name. LO-man.” So I didn’t go to the play with high expectations, and I wouldn’t have gone at all if my husband hadn’t already bought the tickets.
But I was blown away. Moved. Depressed. Enlightened.
And Arthur Miller wrote the first act in a day and half, people. A. Day. And. A. Half. As someone who is 16K craptastic words into Nanowrimo, this resonates.
So why, if it was so great this time, didn’t I think so the first time I saw it? I think it’s simply because I’m ready for it this time. At 20, I wasn’t Willy Loman yet. I wasn’t even Biff.
So why do they bother teaching that kind of literature to the very young? In high school we were forced to read The Stone Angel, a novel about an 80-year-old woman who’s looking back and making sense of her life. Lord, how I loathed that book.
But after high school I discovered Margaret Laurence for myself and fell in love. I’ve read each of her novels and short story collections at least twice. Every one of them. Except The Stone Angel. I haven’t been able to touch that one since Grade 12 English. Maybe it’s time to give it another try.
So what other experiences are wasted on the young?
Naptime. Definitely. Since my kids were little more than babies, I’ve fought with them to take the occasional midday nap. And I still remember hating kindergarten naptime myself. But now? Oh, to nap. To sleep. Perchance to dream…. There are days when the thought of a nap is all that gets me moving in the morning.
School. I’ve spent enough years fielding “WHY do I have to go school?” to suspect it’s simply wasted on the young. It was on me. I would have been better off if, once I’d learned some basic readin’ and figurin’, I’d gone to work chopping wood for the next fifteen years. By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I was ready to learn. And now? If someone ordered me to spend six hours five days a week in a purpose-built setting getting taught things I didn’t know? For free? With clubs and music and art too? And silent reading and library time and study hall? And, and naps? Did you say naps? Oh, yes. Yes. Yes, please.
Travel. The first time I saw the Rocky Mountains I was 15 years old, driving west across Canada with my family. I couldn’t have cared less. Seventeen years later, I drove through them again, and I got it. Now I travel with kids. I want them so much to look up. See the world. Notice its beauty. Just… look up. Guess what? They couldn’t care less.
Give them fifteen years.