Here we arrive at the conclusion of reflections drawn from the film, “Dead Poets Society.” The study and appreciation of poetry transpired, and boys prospered into men. The growth of the soul took place with each turn of a page. As lessons were taught, lives were changed.
The importance of poetry took many years, for me, to grasp onto and value. I went through school learning the styles and rules, but it was not until I had it taught word by word and verse by verse. There is more to poetry than haikus and free verse. Literature is rich with poetry, and the messages engraved in the foundation build stepping stones to a great understanding.
My first time truly experiencing poetry on an intellectual level broadened my perspectives. Instead of reading poems, I began dissecting poems. This experience served a two-fold purpose. Not only did I study poetry with a keen eye, I coupled this learning with an introduction to William Shakespeare. This pairing challenged me to think differently, read differently, and write differently. My exposure to poetry through Shakespeare provided me the chance to mature in the literature I would have missed otherwise. Some of Shakespeare’s sonnets offer insights to matters of finding love and creating happiness, while others dive into the depths of death. His poems display a sense of meaning in confusion and understanding of the unknown.
As humans, we thrive on greatness. This greatness takes on personal definitions for various areas of life, but greatness in literature is relatively set. Poetry matters to life because of the lasting impacts it places on the heart. It opens up a new realm to times of long ago and tells of romances of lovers. Poetry is left up to the interpretations of the mind and only limited by the imagination. Other areas of life, like law and medicine, are established by pre-existing guidelines dictating protocol, but poetry is fluid with endless possibilities. It is impossible to restrict poetry to a cozy little box, when it is intended to force us to think outside of the box. We have different lenses to look through as we go about living for our days, and lenses could be the very things that provide us with an impactful perspective to change our life course.
Although times have changed, literature is the one that has remained constant. Words written centuries ago are still being read today, and people who were silenced by death continue to leave a legacy. It peaks my interest and amazes me when my reality collides and connects with the lessons of literature. There is so much to see, and by diving wholeheartedly into the vault of time’s greatest writers, I can see more; I can learn more. The words I read were written with purpose. Someone had the desire to tell a story, to share a message, and we, as readers, must honor the precious time it took to perfectly construct the art of literature. If we are willing to search, the lessons of life will be found by and through the power of poetry.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016
A parallel to living is learning. One cannot live a complete life without encountering learning cycles. There are standard learning cycles that everyone has, but there are also accelerated learning cycles that are more specialized. These lessons are learned with deliberation, and a person is longing and searching for answers. It takes a dedicated person with a consistent drive to reach for and explore for a significant life. There is a distinct difference between living life and living for life. Simply living is easy; all a person must do is breathe and go through the motions of a routine. Actually living for life is more complicated; a person must have the desire to experience the possibilities and contribute to something bigger than self. Living for life opens the door to challenges and lends itself to push beyond the limits of mediocrity.
Not every person wants to be challenged, but for those who do, they are in for an awakening. As with the hero’s journey, the acceptance of this discovery must happen. The longing for a better tomorrow and successful future should be enticing enough to begin living for and with a purpose. Once I had this internal debate with myself, my curious and studious side took over. My need for learning about far-away places and desire to put myself in the necessary learning settings have made their way to the top of my priorities. My learning experiences have broken beyond the barriers of a classroom. I have taken my education into my own hands and sent my studies to the very places I had only read about. My journey has taken me out of my small comfort zone and expanded my world abundantly. I have said it many times before that I look for metaphors and the messages they reveal. This journey itself is a metaphor for life. And along the way, with every lesson and location, metaphorical meanings provide understanding to those searching for life answers. Entering the woods or meeting a wise stranger or being caught in the rain hold meanings and should display the exact message a person needs to see and learn.
I have come to terms with the fact that I will always be curious. I never want to meet a day in which I am content and comfortable in a routine. There is more to life than just waiting for something to happen; I say make it happen right now. There will come a day when I have long ago seen my glory years. When I meet that day, I want to be able to recall and reflect on a life that was lived with a profound purpose and ponder on the lessons learned that molded me into the person I become. Regrets are something I do not want to have, but experiences are the collectibles, good or bad. Every opportunity that comes today will have a long-term effect on my life, and if it means packing up and flying across the world to have it, then that is where I will go. There is no sense in wishing and waiting for something to seem less scary when the point of learning is taking the moments as they come. Go where the unknown is; life will be waiting because to live for life, the soul must wander within the woods.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016
I would like to think that everyone has their own Mr. Keating. This person should have had a tremendous impact on you and pushed you beyond your limits. In Dead Poets Society, Mr. Keating challenges his students intellectually and encourages them to pursue their dreams. He is a vibrant educator; his students soak up every word he speaks. Mr. Keating takes teaching beyond the four walls of a classroom and out of a standard textbook lecture. There are true lessons and life applications for the students to learn, and that is precisely the point for Mr. Keating. His goal was not to teach poetry; his goal was to teach the students the possibilities of life and finding who they really are through poetry.
The hero’s journey was vividly brought to life for me, and it perfectly describes the process of self-discovery. That was the greatest lesson I could have received. As I sat in the lecture, I could not help but think that one day I will be that person setting out to look for myself. I did not know what it would look like or how I would feel or when it would be. The only thing I knew for sure was that it would happen. This journey is a prerequisite for my future. I cannot be successful or have the life I want without taking the first step of my journey.
The Call - The hero has been called into a long journey and must choose to accept a new beginning.
Mr. Keating challenges individualism and brings this to light. Any given person is given the opportunity to meet their new self after complying with the hero’s journey. This renewal of life calls for an in-depth evaluation of the current path, its potential, and how taking a different path could lead to new perspectives. The journey is a choice; the result is a choice. For everything, there are choices, and you must decide for yourself what kind of journey you will take: a heroic journey or an ordinary journey.
The Threshold - The hero is now well on their way in the journey and crosses from one world to another.
For true and genuine reflections to happen, the hero must be completely removed from normalcy and comfort. This removal of old allows for the new to overcome the soul. New pieces of you will be uncovered and revealed at each place along the journey. Exploration of far-away places is the ultimate journey. Being scared and excited, all the same, is the best feeling to me because I know I am in for a life-altering adventure. I learned it was okay to have these feelings and that those apprehensions should never stand in the way of finding myself.
The Test - The hero is faced with many trials and challenges that may distract from their journey, but they will always find their way back to what is important.
Challenges will arise, but there is certainly a purpose. There are going to be bumps and turns along the journey. Lessons and tasks can be found in anything if you look hard enough and want the change bad enough. Life is one big test. Physical tests make you stronger, and mental tests make you smarter. Even if you stray away from your journey because you think it has become too tough or decide it is not what you want, your inner desire will bring you back to the journey that matters the most.
The Atonement - The hero realizes they are at one with who they are and accepts their journey. At this point, you can feel content with the new person you have become.
The journey may come to a close, but the transformation has only begun. The work is not over; maintaining the life change and deciding how to use this new life will continue on. Once the journey has a closing seal placed on it, you must utilize the new perspectives and experiences. While this journey is complete, the possibility of another one waiting for you in the future could be holding the next chapter of your story.
Although Mr. Keating did not explicitly use this model to teach his students about becoming an individual or following their hearts, I think the principle is there. Mr. Keating instills in his students to break the mold and live life to their own beat. And I think that is a lesson we should all consider. In a society where rules always apply and laws dictate right from wrong, being edgy and creative is considered being eccentric, rather than simply being an individual. Living by society’s expectations is not really living; it is going through the motions. It can be hard to break away from that habit, but being different in a sea of sameness allows for excitement and exploration.
Mine taught me to learn. Mine taught me to explore. Mine taught me to be curious. I have a great appreciation for my Mr. Keating.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016
Life, like poetry, has a specific form and flow. Poetry has iambic pentameter and verses while life has milestones and lessons. For each phase of life, there are choices to be made and successes to be celebrated. Poetry has many parallels to life, and sometimes, this aspect goes without notice and appreciation.
Renaissance and English literature are rich with poetry. Many plays are formed on the foundation of poetry. Think about life as a play. There are five acts; each act is a portion of life. The first act is where the story begins and forms the setting; for us, life begins. The second act tells the storyline and introduces characters; for us, experiences come and relationships form. The third act brings the action and is the longest act in the play; for us, we are living life and in the midst of hitting peak milestones, also the longest stage of life. The fourth act makes connections and reveals lessons; for us, youthful memories collide with adulthood and metaphors find meaning. The fifth and final act ties everything together, and ultimately, someone dies; for us, the life we have lived for however many years comes to an end, being a mere memory for someone else.
That memory you leave depends on the impact you have made: positive or negative. Much like a poem or play, they are only as memorable as their impact. The good ones will be remembered and cherished, and the bad ones will be forgotten and scorned. The legacy that is left behind, resembled by a small dash between two years, should be powerful, meaningful, and honorable. When your name is mentioned long after you are gone, it should bring a smile to someone’s face and a recollection of fond memories should come flooding back. Some poems are so impactful that it only takes one read to establish that, and for life, there is only one chance. With age, perspectives change, but sometimes, it is too late to act on that.
All throughout poetry there are metaphors. Nothing is said in a poem without methodical intentions. Hidden meaning lies behind each and every word and phrase. Life is peppered with metaphors. Everything we encounter in life has a purpose; lessons and guidance can be discovered in unsuspecting places. The next time you see something a little out of place or come across something unexpectedly, consider it a metaphor for your life and challenge yourself to discover the meaning.
The principles of poetry provide a literary approach to gaining insights. Poetry can inspire and provoke great thought. This thought can drive and empower life. The correlation between life and poetry is incredible, and they should absolutely be valued at the highest evaluation, verse by verse.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016
A new day is never promised and should not be taken advantage of. The present is the most important thing. Sure, the memories of the past and the aspirations of the future hold a high value, but the focus should be centered on the here and now. A life could pass by without accomplishing anything, and for some, this would be enough and go unnoticed. Each moment in life is granted for the purpose of making a difference, being kind, and doing something that brings happiness to life. To neglect the significance of a single second, minute, hour, or day is an unjust act of living or lack thereof.
Life is tough. But defining the meaning of life: that is tougher. Society makes this a complicated task to face. In a world of universalism, individualism is a unique trait and considered a taboo. There are expectations to be met and standards to uphold. It is time to break the mold, see the world from different perspectives, and make the most of every moment before it is gone. This is not, by any means, going to be easy and plenty of obstacles will try to stand in the way of discovery. Life has so much to offer; if people would take a step away from norms and traditions, the world could open up and expose hidden and metaphorical treasures.
Right when a person feels defeated, that is the very moment a person should be inspired to prove society wrong. Defeat should be the greatest motivator to make a change. This pivotal moment could exhibit the ultimate potential a life holds. It is like a porthole to what the soul has desired all along. This is the perfect time to take the leap.
Now is as good as ever to change the path to the future. What a person does today will directly impact the course of tomorrow. Every minute that goes by is a minute that could absolutely change a person’s life. Live for today and act like it will be the last. Find meaning in the little things, for they will be the catalysts for assigning the meaning of life. Lessons will be uncovered in unexpected ways in the least likely of places. The most of every breath of life should be cherished and utilized.
With each ‘cannot,’ ‘will not,’ and ‘do not,’ have an ‘I can,’ ‘I will,’ and ‘I do’ to pair self-positivity to societal negativity. Positivity far outweighs negativity and makes facing the task of living a fulfilling life that much easier. The pressures of society should not compromise a person’s own convictions, nor should they invite a person to fall into the worldly patterns. Be different. Be an individual. Life is beautiful, and it can only be appreciated if it is being lived with meaning.
There are no greater words than carpe diem to serve as a constant reminder to seize the day.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016