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I'll start this book review by being brutally honest: I don't know anything about education. I mean, I got an education (high school, college). I had some great Teachers, Professors and Mentors along the way. The combined Wisdom of these Educators changed my Life in many ways, all for the better. I learned how to think critically, and to apply those principles of logical thought not only to academic work and intellectual endeavour, but to Life, itself. (Arguing with someone who doesn't argue critically, is a blast. The next time you have a fight with a significant other, throw out this sentence: "That's an ad hominem argument--sorry, you lose!" This is endlessly entertaining for me. And wildly aggravating to the worthy adversary.)
I digress. I am going off the board today, and reviewing a book that has nothing whatsoever to do with horses or their role in my Life as Muse. But the path I took in Life, which brought me to this place of vocational fulfillment as a communicator in the lovely world of horses, had its solid foundation in the insights of one Richard Michael Holmes, my high school English and Drama Teacher at Watervliet High School in Watervliet, New York.
"Prof," as we called him, has written a book filled with Wisdom that he shares graciously, no holding back. This is the missive I share with you today, which I hope you will all acquire so that you, too, may learn at the knee of a master...
Those problems didn't stop George Stephanopoulos or Mikhail Gorbachev--and it shouldn't stop anyone else, either. Both these men knew that physical appearances have nothing to do, whatsoever, with the content of their character. An unfortunate byproduct of western society's obsession with looks has led young people to sad, often tragic, places. Bulimia. Diuretic diets. Plastic surgery at 18. Cliques, slam books and multi-colored plastic bracelets that make me sad when I think about the implications.
Kids with low self esteem will do anything in order to be "popular."
The obsessive quest for "beauty" in the post-modern world has given nothing but grief to children whose only real concerns should be whether to have the ice cream or yogurt for dessert. Children in Kindergarten are pressured to be "pretty," and "strong." This is a shame, and, many would say, a sin.
We who have reached our 30s, 40s and 50s are blessed to have some Wisdom that came to us through years of bucking the system. We know that physical appearance is irrelevant, that it's what's inside that counts. Being cute may win fame for a few minutes, but at the end of the day--a truly satisfying Life is the result of following your dreams; believing in the power of those dreams and never taking the NO of someone else as the final answer.
Allow me to introduce you to my new friend, Hayseed. Think of Hayseed as "EveryHorse": he's a lot like 99% of us. In a very real sense, Hayseed represents the norm, those of us who are smack-dab in the middle of the road. We who were not born with cherubs' faces, destined to fight off the glare of paparazzi's flashbulbs. We haven't gone under the plastic surgeon's scalpel to "fix" what God made. We can't wear Chanel every day. We live and die with looks that are deemed to be "average," or even below-average--and we're OK with it.
Books in the Middle Ages were treasures. Not everyone owned a book, usually only royalty or those wealthy enough to afford a scribe to hand-write a book for them. These books were beautiful, no two books alike. It could take up to a year to hand-write a book--scribes and their patrons were nothing if not patient. Each page featured gorgeous script. The first word of each chapter featured a stylized, jewel-toned capital letter. Often a scene from the story was entwined around that first letter--a great, painstaking effort, in order to bring to life a creation which was, itself, a work of art. The visual appeal of the book was as compelling as the story or poetry contained within the covers. A treat for the senses, these handmade books delighted both the eye and the hand. Owning a book was a status symbol as well as a sensual experience.
When Johannes Gutenberg presented the concept of movable type in the 1430s, the Western world of books and publishing took a monumental leap forward in many ways. (N.B.: the Koreans and Chinese had created a printing press before Gutenberg, but its popularity didn't spread like wildfire, as did Gutenberg's invention.) Sure, his first Bible was the Vulgate and it was in Latin, so the audience was restricted to those educated in the language. But still, this was a huge step for Western society: with the printing press came a world of possibilities, theretofore not even considered by the world's people. It was now possible to communicate an idea to many people simultaneously. Absolutely unfathomable--science fiction became simply, science.