Just the way hymns and sermons revive congregations, the ballet, the symphony, comedy, and plays inspire audiences to rise up to their potential and perhaps even reach out to others who need a lift.
Majestic centers like the Eichelberger, and all that unfolds on her stage and throughout the building, are the heart that keeps the community beating.
A performance, a painting, a song can be the best counselor when life gets a little too chaotic. My parents parted the curtain on this lesson first, followed by some inspiring teachers and mentors.
I spend a great deal of my time listening to students’ hopes and fears – how those hopes inspire them, and how their fears cause them to doubt their choices or make them stagger through the unknowns.
“Will I get a job?” “How will I pay off college debt?”
“How do I grasp major concepts when even the minor points in the class lecture make no sense to me?”
Their roommates drive them crazy; their parents are either too close or so far away, literally and figuratively, that the students ache.
And I do my best to comfort them. I bridge them to resources – academic tutors, mentors, and experiences – and, hopefully, jumpstart them back down their academic paths.
Many of the students’ fears are not new, but their reactions to their fears are. I’m discovering that when their fears rise, or they hit a hurdle, more students crumble.
The lack of resilience is heartbreaking. It’s a lack that is masked, and often fed by, students’ individual expertise in socializing, gaming and extra-curriculars that help them avoid their personal fears.
Resilience is tough to teach or mentor.
Trust me, as a parent and an academic dean, I do my best every day. I share the truths I’ve learned from others and those I have gained on my own.
I assure students that that there is more gray than black and white when it comes to tough decisions. Their best personal colors will be found in that gray.
But the hardest move for them is to move on. They feel stuck, perpetually buffering, unable to connect to life’s internet.
So we blare song lyrics. We debate about the power, or the numbing, of one word in a poem. We laugh over children’s books and talk about paintings. We dance.
When we talk about tough topics, I’m sure they have done a lot of improv.
I have too.
We move on.
Whether we find our first step in my little office on a college campus, or we join others in inspiring places like the Eichelberger, we ride the wave of a melody. We find solace in someone else’s brush stroke – and move on.
“Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbor is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.”
– Paulo Coelho
Lisa Moody Breslin