Many have bemoaned the lack of strong role models for young people these days and that there are no real heroes anymore. Reading about Charles Simic made me wonder we should teach our children to think of this poet laureate as a hero. Not simply because of the honor that was bestowed upon him. He was born in 1954 making him as old as some of their grandmothers.
Compared to the demanding pace of success where dot-com millionaires were made at twenty five and under, this achievement would not even qualify to be called one - to arrive late is to have not arrived at all. Yet some things in life are worth waiting for. Children need to be told that instant gratification is for Ramen noodles and Snickers bars from the vending machine. It does not a poet laureate make. What you don't spend the best part of your life achieving and earning is not likely to bring real or lasting happiness. Simic says of his poetry :
My poems (in the beginning) are like a table on which one places interesting things one has found on one's walks: a pebble, a rusty nail, a strangely shaped root, the corner of a torn photograph, etc. ... where after months of looking at them and thinking about them daily, certain surprising relationships, which hint at meanings, begin to appear. These objets trouves of poetry are, of course, bits of language. The poem is the place where one hears what the language is really saying, where the full meaning of words begins to emerge. That's not quite right! It's not so much what the words mean that is crucial, but rather, what they show and reveal.
How blessed to have one's calling to be able to ponder over the ordinary things from daily life and being able to find extraordinary relationships between them.