Dreams are powerful tools that can help guide anyone to success and happiness. They represent some cherished aspiration, an ultimate ideal of achievement.

The word sylvan refers most directly to a setting associated with the woods. Reflecting on the vigorous life that abounds in sylvan settings is a very powerful force in my life. For me, this word evokes feelings of transcendence, clarity, and unity.

A Sylvan Dream is a dynamic compilation of my life dream. It is an attempt to seek out and document the truth, beauty, and clarity that exists in this world.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Early Life - Part 1, Learning to Read

Learning to Read
While I was home during Christmas, it was great to spend so much time with my family. Although home is mostly the same when I go home, I witnessed subtle changes, one of which returned me to my childhood momentarily.

I was leaving to meet up with my friends, and my mom was sitting at the computer with my niece on her lap. Mackenzie was pounding on the keys, and my mom was urging her not to be so hard on them.

“What’s that,” Mackenzie would demand with a smile as she pushed her finger to the computer screen. My mom would try to sound out a word if there was a semblance of one, sometimes she would tell her to keep typing.

My mother used to do this with me. She would feed a sheet of paper into the typewriter, and allow me to lay waste to the sheet as my hands danced across the keys as though it were a piano of innumerable notes. At first, I remember seeing if I could type too fast for the machine. I felt joy in managing to stop its keys. I liked looking at the sweeping sinuous designs the hammer arms made as they overlapped each other in a rushed tangle instead of meeting the paper and recoiling in a blink as they were supposed to.

I remember one of these days only clearly enough to know it wasn’t long after my family moved across the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, from Lancaster county, home of the Amish, to York county, home of the racists. I was somewhere between three and four years old, old enough that I was speaking often, and beginning to only vaguely understand the symbolic relationship of all the signs my parents reacted to as if someone was speaking to them while driving me around in the car. I slowly began to understand that words were made up of these symbols called letters, and that all these letters could be arranged by my fingers dancing across the keyboard of a type writer, and from this came words, the same words I could speak!

After I was done, I would get up from the cold spare bedroom floor, and take the sheet of my writing to my mother to inspect for words. On this day I remember becoming particularly interested in what I later learned to be the letter q, and it covered the majority of my page, sometimes for several unwavering lines at once. My mom sat in her chair, tracing each line with her finger, as if feeling for a word. I eagerly watched the reflection of the paper in her glasses, her eyes rolling back and forth as though she might be dizzy.

“Well, here’s the word saw,” she said pointing to an amorphous jumble of letters on the page, “you know, like sawing a tree down?”

She made a motion with her arm, swinging back and forth, and I could see her arm sawing into a tree.

“Ohh,” I said slowly, taking the paper from her hands and walking out of the room. I sat in the spare bedroom, and stared at the word, wondering what made those letters mean the same thing as what we called a saw. A few minutes later I had come to no conclusions, and returned to my mom, asking her to find more words.

“That’s it,” she said resolutely, “that is the only word on the page.”


“That’s it beej,” she said again a little softer this time as she handed the paper back to me. I walked back into the room, and soon took to making more pages of typing. I don’t clearly remember how often I did this, but I can remember repeating these actions with my mom many times, and from this I began to recognize street signs, and understand worlds flying across the TV screen.

This type of learning was much different from what I was soon to be subject to. Everyone was so excited about learning how to read. Everyone was to begin learning how to read formally in school in first grade. I remember beginning first grade already after two years of school. I approached the air of importance that seemed to float about learning how to read a bit skeptically, yet I was excited to feel the same pleasure and satisfaction that my parents shared with my older sisters when they displayed their new talents at reading during school. This was a period of time in my life when being held by my parents was still simply the most pleasurable aspect of life, and learning to read seemed to provide another method to get them to hold me. I quickly found that I could get my parents to hold me in their arms a few more times a week if I could read a few sentences from a book we had spent weeks on at school.

1 comment:

Patrick Burke said...

This is great, Will. I don't remember much from my early life, but I wonder if I could if I tried?

I do remember reading my Big Bird book on the bus to school, several days in a row. I was very proud, & that's probably why I still remember it.