Usually my blogs are funny, quirky, and even a little thought provoking but I have been haunted by a poem written by a 14 year old boy who lost his life in the terrible shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. I know what you are thinking as you read this. How can you possibly compare the blog with the poem? I’m not sure if that is possible. but I can certainly try.
First, there is the 6 degrees of separation. Alex’s grandfather sings in the synagogue choir with my wife (Mrs. B) who is certainly the rock behind my moments of doubt about the book. His son has devoted his life to an initiative on school safety that has taken him as far as the steps of the Capitol in Washington, DC (where my own son works). It is possible that the two of them may collaborate together on school safety and resiliency policy recommendations to ensure that this tragedy never happens again. Lastly, 3 of the surviving Parkland students who helped create the “March for our Lives Rally” appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ellen DeGeneres is certainly an advocate for human rights and graciously got one of her corporate sponsors to donate $50,000 to their cause. Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you, Ellen, among other famous celebrities, is a very successful published author.
So why am I haunted by Alex’s poem? Is it because it was written shortly before his death? Absolutely! If you read the poem, it shows just how amazing and prolific this young man was, especially considering his young age.
“Life is like a roller coaster
It has some ups and downs
Sometimes you can take it slow
Or very fast
It may be hard to breathe at times
But you just have to push yourself
And keep going”
It contains such simple words that convey perfect imagery and evokes thought and self reflection. Who writes like that at 14? The poem continues and points out that eventually the ride ends and the twists and turns come to a stop! Alex, like the generations before him, represents greatness. He displayed a love for life and a passion for the arts; two things we both share. I was so touched by his insights, that I borrowed his poem when I was a VSA Artist in Residence for a performance at the Arsht Center, last spring. (https://www.youtube.com/results?=morningside+academy+jones)
There is a part of me that connects with Alex and his poem. Perhaps that is why I couldn’t sleep last night and started writing this at 3:18 AM. Now, I gaze at the clock and it’s 5:39 AM. Time, like our lives, keeps ticking and we never know how long we have. The last two weeks I have been on a roller coaster ride, myself (with the help of Mrs. B). We have been sending out letters, trying to boost the mailing list, been checking out book fairs, ordering banners and more. It is paying off. I have been invited to do a pod-cast on the 12th (my first pod-cast ever) and I have been asked to read at elementary and religious school book fairs. So, there definitely is light at the end of the tunnel of this roller coaster ride! I feel like Alex is sitting next to me during this “Mr. B” journey; laughing, shouting and sharing in this joyride!
This is by no means meant to be maudlin. I think Alex reminds us to celebrate our lives and not take it for granted. I have already made a donation to the Safe schools for Alex Go Fund me page and I encourage you to do the same. Thanks.