I wrote this about six weeks ago. I decided I would get back to it, rework it, etc. But I realized when I reread it just now, that I could write about this again, and it would come out as a totally different piece. So maybe from time to time I’ll write something like this again. But for now, this is what I wrote on one day….
In my English classes I would read aloud to my students the stories and books that were required reading, while they read along. I used a variety of voices, and got really into these books; at intervals we would stop and discuss what was happening, and I would try to get them to discern the deeper meaning of the story or play.
Every once in a while (often at the same places in a particular book) I would become so moved by what I was reading that I would get choked up and teary. The actress part of me would put all I had into the reading, and the listener part would become overwhelmed at what I heard. This happened even with books or stories I’d read for many years, to many classes. Every time, year after year. I would ask a student to take over reading for a page or so.
The same thing happens when I am reading alone – books on philosophy, quantum physics, art, novels. Just this morning I was re-reading a book I have read several times, and felt my heart swell with an overpowering sense of…what? I stopped my reading and thought, “What is it that so moves me?” Because it isn’t just books, or movies, but things I observe, or look back on in my own life.
A student interrupted me once when this happened; he wanted to know what I was feeling as I read a particular passage, and why. I said, “I’m moved by this because it is Truth. Not the truth, as in, ‘It’s not a lie,’ but the Truth with a capital ‘T’ – the thing we all strive to know, or understand, or perceive about life. Those larger truths of the universe move me.”
I am moved by unselfishness demonstrated in rare and sometimes courageous ways; by beauty that would be denigrated by trying to describe it; by kindness to others, especially those who think they do not deserve it; by the plight of those creatures who are completely helpless in the face of man’s greed and unconsciousness – like polar bears. I am moved by Canada geese migrating in formation; by the wonder of a huge flock of birds flying in an ebb and flow, creating light and dark. A child’s wonder and curiosity moves me. When I teach someone something, and the light bulb goes on, I am moved and overjoyed. In fact, even as I wrote that, I had a flash of one of many such “light bulb” experiences, and the small swell of joy filled my heart.
So I think what moves me, if I look at it in a larger context, is connecting with moments of deep inclusion, connection with the glory, the pain, and the hopeful possibilities that living on Earth provides. I am moved by Life, and when that happens, my heart opens, and I am connected to all things.
Look out at things – there is wonder and beauty, darkness and grace, joy and confusion, hope and anticipation in each moment. En-joy the day. And please, if you are willing to take the time, I would love to hear what moves you.
P.S. One year, when I got to a point where I asked a student to take over reading, the class had obviously prepared. When I said, “Okay, who would like to take over reading?” one student spokesperson said, “Ms. Rubin, do you remember when you said that the way out of things is to go through them? Well, we’ve decided you should go through this.” And so I read, with tears and also laughter. I think my students were incredible people to have done this…