Mainly we went to see the play because the set was designed by a young friend of mine, Garret. He is a gifted writer and artist, and at almost the last minute, he was pulled onstage to take a small role as the doctor in the mad scene. I was impressed that he was such a good listener. Having worked with a lot of actors, I know how crucial that is to the believability of the performance. An actor has to perform as if he's never heard those lines before, even though he's been through weeks of meticulous and grueling rehearsals. When an actor listens, the audience feels the spontaneity.
Another young friend of mine, Dallen, is soon headed for Washington, D.C. and the United States Senate. He was accepted for the Senate Page program last year by Senator Robert Bennett's office. Only sixteen young people are given this honor nationally, many of them sons and daughters of senators and governors. Dallen will spend six months in Washington, December to July, being an eyewitness to history, attending the Inauguration, having dinner at the White House, and so on. I cautioned him recently that he would grow and learn so much more than his peers here at home, but in the end, he will have to come home, and he will have to be patient. After he graduates from Richfield High School in 2010, he will have a full scholarship to any of the top colleges and universities in the country. Dallen is also a gifted writer, having just completed a novel and started another.
Last night I spent some time critiquing six poems sent me by another young friend, Elysa. She came to me for tutoring in writing when she was 13 years old because she wanted more than she was getting in school. She is a gifted poet, and now as a college student she still sends her poems to me for my response.
These three young people are very important to me, and I treasure their friendship. To mentor is to touch the future, and when I read their writing or sit with them in conversations in my office or living room or online, I have great hope. Garret, Dallen and Elysa appreciate their roots and the solid values they were raised in, but they are not root-bound. They know the world is bigger than the borders of Sevier County, and they are preparing to take flight. I hope I have helped them strengthen their wings.