We have had a couple of gray and bone-chilly days here by the sea. I don’t mind. The ocean is a different place when the weather is foul. It is still awesome and captivating, but somehow a rolling amount of immeasurable water with fathomless power is scarier and more on-the-edge of civilized life when the wind blows cold and hard. Certainly, I wouldn’t want to be alone on a ship in the middle of a storm and in the dark. God have mercy!
The inclement weather allowed me the privilege of finishing the series, “David Copperfield,” a classic by Charles Dickens. It is an old BBC television series and very well done. Timeless. I guess that indeed is the meaning of classic.
Oh how I love Dickens. I think I was born in the wrong era. I am riveted by the history and literature of Merry Old England. The truth is that it was not all merry–not completely–and there are great life lessons buried in the sometimes ghastly and awe-inspiring stories of the ruling monarchy and poor alike.
One of the gifts of Great Britain in general is literature. History proves they have lavished the world with the incredible writing of some of the best story tellers and poets. I am greatly stunted by my inability to read fluently in other languages, because that would the true test of comparison; but that aside, really, who can top Shakespeare? He moves me, even though, at first, I must combat the ancient use of words and phrasing. After a time, I settle into a rhythm natural to old English, which begins to accentuate the depth and meaning of the words.
And I don’t just watch movies… I enjoy reading Dickens as well and am delving into a “Tale of Two Cities” now and am grateful for the ease of going through the book on my iPhone 4. It is much more convenient than lugging books all over the world. A story in the palm of my hand — actually hundreds of stories!
I wanted to write about a scene in “David Copperfield” that captivated my heart. David, whose mother dies and is abandoned by wicked step-father, begins to live with a distant aunt. Conditioned by a mean and coarse world, David delightfully discovers family love and acceptance in his aunt’s palatial country home. A wise and round, old man, who is really more like a child than a man, is living in the country with them takes the boy kiting by the sea.
It is a blustery and beautiful day on the coast — perfect for flying. The old man builds a kite and teaches David how to lift it on a breeze and sustain it in the air. The paper flier catches the wind and soars up, up, up and then dives. David runs, laughing all the while, and gets it up again, higher and higher. The experience is sheer magic and even healing to the young boy.
I stopped the movie and wept — really wailed. I know. It is weird. It touched something tender and very deep in my heart and life. The small scene, almost insignificant to the story, held great truth for me today.
All we need in life, especially as children, is a kite, lots of string, a windy day, and someone who is patient enough to teach us to fly it. Not just teach us to sustain it in the air, but who will root us on with goodwill in the flying. The old, round man stood by the sea in the whipping wind yelling, “Let it fly, let it fly, let it go–higher, higher, higher–let it gooooo.” He cheered the boy on as a champion in the smallest endeavors of life.
As adults that is exactly what we need. We will never outgrow this poignant scene on the sea coast with a kite high in the air. The kites are our dreams, and the old man is the cheerleader who teaches us to fly and cheers us on. Maybe we can buy our own kites and get them in the air now, but we will always need that coach and mentor to urge us on with abandoned enthusiasm.
And you and I are not so different, for we both find our own faces here in the story…
Still… I see here a healing and a rising — just like the kite — on a new breeze, on a new day by the sea.