November 29, 2022

No News From Doodlebug Island…by William F Jordan


What began among friends as a surprise birthday celebration for a valued member of the Doodlebug Island community, Hazel Britt, became so widely known there was simply no way to keep the secret. The reason was simple; the lady is held in such high esteem among young and old alike, the party should have been announced as a public event to be held in the town plaza!

Hazel’s popularity springs from her generosity and willingness to help, but is augmented by a peppery attitude that expresses itself so buoyantly as to lift the spirits of the most dour and pessimistic. Absolutely no one is immune to the bubbling optimism that surrounds her and marks her paths, and which make it impossible for anything small, mean, or ugly to intrude.

The gala celebration that was initially planned grew in size to the point it had to be moved from the town library to the Doodlebug University basketball building and with fanfare that would normally accompany a winning team of some description. The last is mere conjecture since no Doodlebug team on either the high school or college level has ever had a winning
season, concentrating instead on such esoteric things as sportsmanship and fair play.

Character building its called. Well, the place was decorated with streamers and bunting, placards of many sizes and sentiment. Confetti materialized from time to time, shot from air-filled tubes attached to compressors. There were speeches by officials and intimate friends and family, but the time finally arrived when everyone wanted to hear from the lady herself. She rose from her seat of honor and in a gathering silence punctuated with encouraging remarks from those closest to
her began in a trembling voice that betrayed an unusual seriousness: “I think you all know I love you and am indebted to you for the place you have opened for me in your hearts and in your midst. In honoring me you honor yourselves, for I am a simple
embodiment of all that’s good about you.”

Gathering strength, she continued. “Residents here seem to instinctively know that life is a choice between practicing a philosophy of scarcity on the one hand or a philosophy of abundance on the other, and we choose the latter. In every way possible we exemplify a belief that nature creates in plenty, whether its in the air we breathe, the warmth we require,
the friends who accompany us, or the elements necessary to sustain life. For us, penury, selfishness, greed, and hoarding exist largely as dictionary words whose meanings are lost on hearts bent on a concern for others. Thank you for celebrating with me.”

Those simple words, concise and to the point, were well received, but especially among students soon to be graduated from Doodlebug Island University. They asked Hazel to give the commencement address. Now, while eloquence and sentiment are rarely observed together, Hazel’s speech that day contained both with the result that those attending—nearly everyone living on the Island—went home inspired, rededicated to ideals of friendship and acceptance.

“Perhaps had I graduated from college myself I would know why a ‘commencement’ speech is reserved for graduation instead of the day you matriculated,” she smiled. “But maybe it doesn’t matter. When I look at your faces and into your eyes I see mirrored there the bright future each of you is contemplating, and I comprehend a loveliness in form and figure that speaks to an inward grace, one that will make the difference in your life and that of others.

“Now, you’ve been taught there may be such things as alternative universes. In an not altogether facetious vein, I would like you to consider the possibility of an alternative university—your humanity. For, it’s credible that life itself is a class not unlike those you’ve just finished but unending and more consequential. We all know pain, disappointment and turmoil while struggling to find meaning and answers. But we are not alone! We travel the road with others who, like us, need to be held through tears, cheered through shared laughter, encouraged to endure and to venture.

“Intellectually, we learn that emotion is a cortical function, but in an alternate University we might still believe that feelings and compassion, love and sentiment rest in the heart, and that, when we listen, that organ will guide us to suitable friends and worthy ends.”

Audience members thought the speech had the brevity of the Gettysburg Address and much of its resonance!

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