The Campus Lantern was my college newspaper. See the date? 1974. Forty-four years ago. Yikes! My goodness that was a long time ago. A lifetime ago. I was an entirely different person back then.
I actually didn't remember the name of this particular publication until very recently. And in fact, I don't think the existence of my old college newspaper has crossed my mind even once for at least forty-three of those subsequent years. But my sister was going through some bins of old papers and letters and the this'n'that which we all seem to accumulate and this newspaper turned up. Very kindly she brought it to me.
I looked at the title and thought, "What on earth is the Campus Lantern?" Yeah, I didn't remember it at all. OR I lost that particular brain cell. Not sure which. Regardless, below the title I next saw that it was from Eastern Connecticut State College. Yup. Before it was a University it was just a college. And before that it was a "Normal School" which is what a school that churns out teachers used to be called. Isn't that funny? Why do you suppose it was called a "Normal school?" Because learning to be a teacher is normal? Or because they want those teachers to create "normal" students? No idea. I do remember attending Eastern CT State College so 2+2 y'know. Okay that's my old college newspaper. I got that far on my own.
But the next question was, why did my sister have a copy of it? She didn't go to Eastern. So I asked her why I was now holding a crankly yellowed old copy of my old school paper that for some weird reason, she had a copy of. With a grin she opened the paper to the center section.
Lookee there. An entire page of poetry that I wrote. It's an entire page of Sam submissions. Or perhaps sam-missions? Until that particular moment, I not only didn't remember the name of my school paper, I also didn't remember that I ever submitted poetry to it with the hopes of being published. Looks like I was. Which I also didn't remember until I saw this again.
Now that my memory has been properly jogged, I definitely recall that it was a big deal to me at the time. I have been writing since I could hold a pencil in my little hand which was an extremely long time ago. I don't remember of a time in my life when I wasn't writing. And once I got to college I wrote even more. A lotta lot, as my kids used to say. Poetry, essays, short stories flew from pen to my paper and then was carefully squirrelled away. I also recall that my writing was intensely private to me. I usually tore up and/or threw out what I wrote. Eventually I started saving some of it but I rarely showed it to anyone. I was always sure that I didn't "measure up". Ever afraid of criticism at that time in my life, it felt like a very brave things to do, submitting my work so that other people could see it. And not just one or two carefully selected people who I knew to be kind but on a platform that allowed anyone at all to read it, if they chose to. Strangers. People who were not so kind. It was absolutely terrifying for me. It absolutely was heart pounding, knee shaking, sweat producing scary to offer up my puny creative thoughts.
And yet I did it. I'm kind of proud of the much younger me for doing that. I'm not saying that I wrote anything of quality. That isn't the important part. The fact that I was petrified of doing something and did it anyway, that is the big deal.
I was a cowardly child. Afraid of Everything. Seriously. What a big baby I was. And it took a long time to stop over thinking everything, to stop being certain that the world would come crashing down around me if I made even the tiniest mistake, to stop trying to hide and be invisible out of fear. This was one of my first really big steps.
Obviously the world didn't end. Even though, as I recall, some people said kind, supportive, positive things about this submissions, some people said dismissive and unkind things, and some people didn't say anything at all it was okay. I did it and whats more, I survived it. Not only survived actually but got stronger and braver as time went by.
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said that we should all, "Do one thing every day that scares you". I first read that quote when I was so very young and fragile and I remember thinking that this woman had to have either been the most courageous person on the planet or the craziest. Because there was no way that I was ever going to intentionally allow myself to be in a situation where I was going to feel vulnerable. Just not gonna happen.
I'm not sure why I felt really brave that day in college. But I did. And I am so glad that I did.
I'm still not ever going to intentionally jump out of an airplane with a parachute strapped to my back. I'm not likely to go skiing down the Matterhorn or drive a racecar in the Indy 500. But compared to the frightened-by-own-shadow child that I was a thousand or so years ago, I am now so brave it's nearly heroic.
John Wayne said, "Courage is being scared, but doing it anyway". I knew that one day, watching all those old westerns would come in handy. Thanks Duke.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.