I am sure that all of us at one point in our teenage years were forced to write essays or poems in an English class that led to an outpouring of adolescent angst or indifference. For me, it was my sophomore year of high school at St. Charles Preparatory School. This all male, Catholic institution is one of the most academically rigorous high schools in Ohio. Our founding mission that “no qualified young man will be turned away due to financial hardship” led to a motivated and diverse student body of about 500 eager souls (and a few troublemakers).
Father Wiles, known for his passions – scuba diving, Shakespeare, and bean soup – started our second year English class by letting us know he expected us to keep a daily journal. We could write down anything we wanted. He would read everything. Standing in front of the class, with his signature navy blue shirt buttoned tightly around his bright white clerical collar, he made sure to emphasize a code of secrecy lest we desired to share with the class. He would sometimes assign a short poem or current event for our reflection. I learned to love writing, but I would often use the outlet for exercising depressing and emotional sonnets and haikus. Father Wiles’ comments on my journal would range from “well done” to “see me after class.” One day, I was perplexed by his reaction to a particularly whiny diatribe about gym class. “Blue ice!” was all he wrote.
At the end of class that morning, a few minutes before the bell, Father asked me to share his comment with everyone.
He then relayed this story:
A couple, we’ll call them Tom and Sandy, was enjoying lunch in their kitchen on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. Suddenly, and without warning, the couple was startled by the sound of something crashing through their roof into their living room. Tom immediately jumped up and began to cautiously approach the object. Examining the new instant skylight that had appeared in his roof, he noticed contents of his attic now strewn around the scene. Seasonal clothes lay on top of a lamp in the corner and Christmas lights hung through the gash in the ceiling. He could hardly believe what he was seeing. The unwelcome visitor in his living room was a chunk of blue-colored ice the size of his favorite Lay-Z-Boy in the corner. Looking back through the hole in the roof, he saw a low-flying airplane on its way to the nearby airport. Putting the clues together, Tom realized that somehow the toilet water tank of a landing plane must have burst and dropped this misplaced gift into his home. Sandy called over from the kitchen where she has been patiently awaiting an update. “What is it?” she hollered. “It’s a big piece of blue ice. I think its toilet water from a plane!” he replied. Sandy paused. Then she shouted, “Well, there is nothing you can do about it now. Finish your lunch. Your soup is getting cold.”
Once finished, Father Wiles looked at me and said, “Daniel, life isn’t what happens to you. Life is how you react to it. Next time you feel like you’ve got it bad or life is unfair, just think ‘Blue Ice.’”
Since that lecture in my sophomore English class, I have been able to impose this ‘blue ice’ philosophy on many situations. Lessons Learned: My So-Scarred Life is a series of stories I am writing that cover a range of human experiences from breaking my sister’s leg to being shot in the head. It starts when I was just five years old and tells the story of how my life has been filled with learning things the hard way.
Click on the picture for a Discovery Channel Mythbusters show on Blue Ice.
Talk to you Later.