Curiosity and Persistence Sherman Alexie = my middle school self

Last week something that really stuck with me was the “Superman and Me” excerpt by Sherman Alexie. I loved it because the entire time I felt like I was reading a story about myself as a child. In the excerpt, Alexie wrote about how much he loved to read, how he was ridiculed by his fellow classmates because of his love for books and learning, and how much he wanted to share his knowledge with his community. This clicked with me immediately because throughout basically my entire childhood I was always known as the weird girl who always had a book in her hand. I never really cared about having this label because I considered reading to be a part of my identity. But like Alexie, knowing what my peers were missing out on really bothered me and made me wonder why no one else shared my curiosity for exploring the new worlds that reading makes possible.

Okay so I actually read an embarrassing amount as a kid. My house is about a mile from the local library, so after school I would always run over and fill my huge backpack with new books and lug it back home. My ultimate goal was to read the entire fiction section (I really hated nonfiction), so I would take out seven or eight books every week which was the highest amount that you could take out at once. I especially enjoyed books that came in series, so I read just about every series that the library had in that section.

“I read books late into the night, until I could barely keep my eyes open."

This line from the excerpt made me laugh because I think back to the nights when I would fall asleep reading and wake up with the imprint of the book in my arm or back. I went through at least thirty of those little clip-on book lights because the light would be on when I fell asleep and then dead when I woke up. Just like Alexie, I read on the bus rides to school, in school during announcements, after I finished my class work, during recess, on the bus ride home, after school,…. you get the point. I just genuinely loved being able to experience someone else’s world and learn through their eyes, which I talked about in my first Journey Log focusing on openness. I think openness directly ties into curiosity, because the more we learn through opening our minds to new things, the more we have to question and explore... leading back to the rabbit hole analogy for creative reading. Curiosity fuels the desire to learn and the reward of knowledge fuels further curiosity.

"I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant."

Alexie and I are kind of in the same boat when it comes to popularity. His classmates would fight with him and try to make him feel ashamed for wanting to learn. None of my middle school friends shared my love for reading and I would always get made fun of because everyone thought I was being antisocial. Alexie persisted in his mission to put an end to the "ignorant Indian" stereotype on the reservation by going against social convention. I persisted in reaching my personal goal of reading the entire fiction section by refusing to conform to what my peers wanted me to be. I sat alone on the bus because everyone thought I was weird, but I didn’t really mind because for me that just meant I could read in peace and avoid the gossip about who hugged who behind the bleachers.

"No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for READING or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance." - Confucius

In the fifth grade, this one girl got stuck sitting next to me because she wasn’t getting along with a boy in the front of the bus and I was the only one with an open seat. She kind of ignored me for the first few days but then I think she got bored and she started asking me questions about the book I was reading, which happened to be Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This kind of really scared me because no one had ever done that before, but I was really excited that someone was interested in my book. I took this as my ‘kairos’ moment and started telling her about the characters and what was happening and recommended that she start the series, which she did. This girl has now been my best friend for eight years. So I never actually finished the entire fiction section of the library but I did gain a lifelong friend... funny how life works out.

Credits:

Created with images by Kincse_j - "dandelion nature flora"

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