Tuesday, January 31, 2006

An Open and Spacious Heart

Not meaning to be morbid, but perhaps obituaries are on my mind because of having read Heather Lende's book, If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name. Part of her writing career is writing Obits for the Haines newspaper, and a column for the Anchorage Daily News. Her obits are so personal and tell about who the person was, how they lived, how they died, and not just who their relatives were.

In a recent column, she wrote:

That is why, when I learned that his heart stopped suddenly while he was skating on perfect green ice with two of his best buddies, I was relieved.

Guy was only 57, but still, to breathe your last in a place that is more like heaven than anywhere I know is not so bad. My husband took the news sadly but a little wistfully: "I always thought Guy was lucky in life," he said. "Now he's lucky in death."

They thought he was lucky, because at first they thought perhaps he'd fallen through the ice.

I enjoyed reading about Guy. It sounds as if he lived a simple life, yet full and on his own terms. I wonder how many people like Guy live around us. Yet here, perhaps, they wouldn't be held in such high esteem. Here in the "Outside" (term used by Alaskans to mean "not Alaska"), the measuring sticks are different, at least for the culture at large.

In part, that's why I chose to homeschool. I want my children to find what makes their life worth living, their passions. It isn't enough to be educated enough to get that good paying job. It isn't enough to be schooled so that you'd know the answer if stopped on the street and asked who the fourth President was. I want more for them. Most importantly, I want someone to say about me and mine like they did about Guy "[I am] going to honor Guy's memory by having an "open and spacious heart" for friends.

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