The Bored Student Speaks!

My I-Really-Just-Don’t-Care student hands me some of his writing to read.  He’s typed eight single-spaced pages.  I didn’t assign him this project.  He wrote something on his own, and he wants to meet today to talk about writing.

He gives me permission to tell you this:

It’s a personal memoir about watching his brother leave for service in the Marine Corps.  It’s about the first letter he receives from him. 

It’s about the first time he sees his face again. 

At one point, the student recounts the moment when he’s about to see his own brother.  Mid sentence, he includes in parentheses: “I’ve stood to type this section because I can still feel the excitement.”

I can’t put it down.  The writing is so good, the story so profound.  I’m overcome with the fact that a student has to stand up to write because the emotion is that great.

The poet Marianne Moore writes in her poem, “The Student,” a line I’ll never forget.  She claims that a student seems “too reclusive for some things to seem to touch him–not because he has no feeling but because he has so much.” 

I have to remember that.  I have to remember that the reclusive soul sitting before me who doesn’t care about anything might actually care too much.  The silence, the frown, or even the bored comment masks something underneath.  Something so thrilling he has to stand up to write it.

I ask him again if I can write about him today.  He says, “I really just don’t care.”   Now I know what he means. 

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  1. Wow!! That IS wonderful. And that is amazing that he had to stand to write that.

    I love your blog Heather. I have been reading ever since you were on the NPR podcast.


  2. Thank you for following up here on this student. The point about looking reclusive because one is caring too much is intriguing and helps me to think differently about the reserved people in my life. So glad your student opened up to you.

  3. I remember being the quiet one on our vacations as a family; everyone would be oohing and awing, discussing a rock formation or river while I would be silently drinking it in. I don't remember the excitement this student states but I know I could not verbally share what I was seeing or feeling. So good for you to read this with heart as well as head. I will try to remember this with my patients and families.

  4. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog today- I'm so glad you did because in hopping over to leave you a comment, I read through your posts and they're just wonderful. I absolutely love your “Story Behind Flair” and everything that your blog idea represents. I will surely be back to read more!
    Hope you have a great day,
    Vanessa from Optimal Optimist

  5. Excellent post! Thanks for bringing to our attention that “boredom” can serve as a safety blanket to cover other more intense feelings.

    Great blog!

  6. Wonderful, and intense! What a gift for him to share that with you… As I read this post, I was listening to “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons and it was very appropriate – like the perfect soundtrack. 🙂

  7. Yeah! I'm so glad he finally felt free to let his feelings out! I can relate to his initial expressed feelings about not caring enough about anything to write. I had a very similiar conversation with my college composition teacher at the end of my 11th grade year. I was weeks away from getting married and months away from having my first baby. He suggested I write about something important to me and wrote “the baby” on top of his note pad for me to see.

    That was just too close, too personal, and too deep for me to write about.

    Thanks for the writing advice the other day! 🙂