I had to take several literature courses in order to complete my journalism degree work in college. The two shared a common department therefore I was required to spend an equal amount of time studying the poets as I did studying the finer points of journalism and communications. It went with the territory.
Now, I've always fancied myself a reader, but in college things tend to step up a couple notches. I surprisingly grew fond of the romantic poets. Names like Keats, Shelley and Lord Byron all penned works that I found interest in because of the fact we shared a natural, emotional and, in some cases, personally artistic world view.
I tend to see those sorts of things more andn more in real life, even though we are sometimes surrounded by strife, the beauty of certain situations can always be found.
I was on a trip in Texas the week before Christmas and although it was a long one, spanning nearly five days, I found plenty of "romantic" moments to appreciate.
First, Texas has the most beautiful sunsets. That might come as a surprise to some who know that I lived near the Pacific for four years and witnessed some spectacular views as dusk gave way to night. But something about the big Texas sky takes my breath away. I've seen some great ones in West Texas where there isn't a mountain to be found and on this trip I caught one somewhere near Waco.
Waking up from a nap on the bus I saw the orange sky with just the perfect amount of Texas clouds to make me appreciate nature's beauty. Couple that with George Strait's "Amarillo by Morning" playing on my IPod and I was in a sort of country heaven. Whether or not the young men on the bus appreciated that scene as much as I did we may never know, but maybe someday they'll get there, too.
I was also fortunate to visit the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas during one of our off days between games. I enjoy the fact that our men's basketball coaching staff takes the time to make sure their team receives an off-court education whenever we get the chance on the road. For those that might not know the "Sixth Floor Museum" is the place dedicated to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, it sits in the former Texas Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald was perched on that fateful day in 1963.
There really isn't any "beauty" to be found in a place like that; it is in fact quite the opposite. When you stand on the sixth floor and stare down at the "x" painted on Elm Street in Dealey Plaza where the president was shot, it's quite chilling. I did, however, find it personally artistic because of the history surrounding the area and coupled with many of the other sites I've had the fortune of visiting made me appreciate my surroundings.
I've now had the privilege to sit where Martin Luther King Jr., preached and to see his final resting place in Atlanta. I've stood in the shadow of the World Trade Center before unspeakable hate forced it's ruin. I've walked the grounds of The Alamo where unmeasured courage once defended its walls. And I've stared out across a field of 168 chair-shaped memorials marking the spot where in 1995 those innocents were cut down due to the actions of one in Oklahoma City.
While the ugly side of humanity can be found in all of those places; that fact that the rebirth, the dedication and the memories of those involved will not be forgotten as long as those monuments stand, will pull out the "romantic" in all of us.
While the travel that the career choice I've made is sometimes a burden, things like Texas sunsets, memorials of greatness and helping to educate the next generation of leaders were a perfect romantic ending to my 2013. Here's to hoping 2014 has plenty of emotional beauty of its own in store.
COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Director of New Media and Broadcasting for California State University, Bakersfield.