A setting from my life’s Act 1 was Hillcrest School in East Moline, Illinois.

I loved going to Hillcrest. I especially enjoyed hanging out with my friends, who all happened to be in the same class with me.

As an elementary school student, I found myself frequently challenged by the amount time I sat in a desk, confined within the four walls that supposedly described where learning was to take place.

By far, my favorite time of the school day was recess, lunch, and after-school sports. At these times of the school day, I woke up to life’s joy. I could freely move about, play, and laugh with my friends.

Laughter in the classroom was definitely frowned upon. Yet, on numerous occasions, the giggles would just naturally erupt amongst my friends and me, easing the tones of the serious learning.

Mr. Jim Marvin was my 5th grade Social Studies teacher. His looks reminded me of the actor Lee Marvin, who at that time appeared weekly in a Friday night TV series M Squad.

Mr. Marvin liked to sit behind his desk and talk to the class about early American history.

Frequently to stay engaged in Mr. Marvin’s lecturing, I’d pretend that he was the actor, Lee Marvin, and my classmates and I were detectives on the M Squad.

Mr. Marvin taught us about the early explorers. I learned the explorers’ names. I learned when and where they explored. Mr. Marvin’s teaching focused on the facts and nothing but the facts.

One of the explorers who really fascinated me was Ponce de Leon.

I was so intrigued by the story of Ponce de Leon and how he had heard of a legend claiming there was a  fountain of youth, that  if anyone drank from its water, they would never grow old.

To my 10 year-old mind, this Ponce de Leon story sounded very cool.

So here I am now in Act 3 of my life, thinking of my teacher, Mr. Jim Marvin, and the lesson he taught on Ponce de Leon’s search for the fountain of youth.

What triggered this memory?

A quote from Joseph Campbell: Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.

The quote has been percolating with me through the day.

I’ve connected the dots in my life between Hillcrest School, Mr. Jim Marvin, Ponce de Leon, the fountain of youth, and joy.

Little did I know at age 10 that I would discover for myself what Ponce de Leon and his expedition went searching for.

And what did I discover?

Joy . . . and how taking sips of my heart’s joy throughout my life has awakened within me to the fountain of youth.

For me throughout my life, the sips of joy were the moments of laughter shared with family, friends, and with me.

Those moments when I chose to lift myself up from the role of playing the serious, somber student to the role of being a joyful student of life.

Perhaps, my biggest steps along my journey to discovering the fountain of youth were those where I consciously chose to laugh at myself in the role of the learner.

Yes, Ponce de Leon . . . life is great.

And yes, oh yes, Ponce de Leon . . . I’ve discovered the fountain of youth; it lies within the heart and it speaks the universal language of laughter.

Loving you,

Robert, aka Bob

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