Blog Posts on Scott Russell Sanders, “Wayland”

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20 thoughts on “Blog Posts on Scott Russell Sanders, “Wayland”

  1. I think the most important message Sander’s is trying to convey in his essay Wayland appears toward the end, he states, “Nothing less than the undivided universe can be our true home.” In this line he summarizes the entire book. In the beginning in essays like House and Home and Staying Put, Sander’s explains the importance of the word home and the qualities of home. Then in essays like Earth’s Body and Telling the Holy, Sander’s explains the importance of the earth. How the earth is our main provider and how it is necessary to have a relationship with the earth. Then here in this final essay Sander’s explains the importance that the Earth is our true home. We as people must appreciate our home, we must love it as if it were our own child or mother, we must take care of it, and we must be connected on an intimate level. In his essay Sander’s explains how even his body was made from the earth, he says “these atoms should have gathered to form this I.” Sander’s also talks about this three desires to know who he is, where he is, and in what sort of cosmos he has been. These three desires can all be answered if he and if we as people make earth our home. We will have a sense of rootedness, feel as if we belong, and appreciate our life on a different level if we make earth our home.

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  2. Because I am going to talk about this essay in front of our class on Monday, I wasn’t sure of what to write about for the blog post. Then I realised that as I was reading this essay I could sympathise with Sanders in many ways. I’m not as poetic as he is, neither as knowledgeable, but I have left home, as he did, and every time I go back I know that things have changed, but I don’t want to listen about it. I like to keep the memories I have of that place as they were when I lived it, and I refuse to appreciate new things and new people as good as the ones that were there by the time I was growing up. The right answer of why this happens I cannot tell, but what I guess is that we see our memories as perfect, even though they are not, and as new imperfect things happen, or as we meet new people, we won’t see them as perfect until they become memories.

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    • 5 points. It’s true that once we leave a place, we often think it is “ruined” by change and can find it difficult to accept that change. One thing Sanders’ essay also teaches us is that when we do go back to places we used to live, we can gain new insight into that place and ourselves from our memories and past experiences there.

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  3. For me, this essay by Sanders was a little more difficult to connect with and relate to. I think the main reason for this is due to growing up as an Army brat. Sanders writes about going back to Wayland, a town he grew up in and around. He is consistently recalling memories of his past due to what he sees around him. For me, I don’t think I will really ever have this experience, to a certain degree, because I have moved so many times and lived in so many different homes and towns. If I were to go back to one of these locations in the future, I could try to think of how it has changed, but it would be difficult since I only lived there for a year or two. If I wanted to compare how things have changed from when I was younger at a certain town, it would have to be where my grandparents live, in Dubuque, Iowa, because we would go and visit almost every year. The town of Dubuque is a place I am most familiar with at this point in time. I can recall going to the parks with cousins, to church with my family, or my grandfather taking us out for ice cream. I could recognize what has or has not changed since I was younger.

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    • 5 points. A mobile life such as with a military career does offer a very different kind of experience. There are gains and losses no matter what our experience is. It’s good that you’re able to latch onto Dubuque as at least a somewhat consistent place touchstone in your life.

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  4. When returning home after moving away for some time is a very strange experience one that doesn’t seem like it would be difficult but it can be because some harsh realities may come back to you. When I had returned home I think one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp was the fact that things were still going on while I was not there. My brother’s voice deeper while my sister started putting on more makeup, mom lost weight, and daddy greyed. Coming home to you family changed was very difficult for me. One of the hardest changes is when I see my grandmothers. My grandfather passed away during the school year last year making it very difficult to forget that he is gone sometimes. Every once in a while I catch myself about to call him cell phone just to get his opinion on something or even to hear his voice. Most of the time I just replay the old voicemails I have of him, telling me jokes, calling me to tell me he was picking me up for practice things like that. For me coming home is strange and unnatural and one of my first times home was an eyeopening one but coming back to where you came from is never a bad idea.

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    • 5 points. I’m sorry for the loss of your grandfather. That is certainly one of the most dramatic types of life occurrences that remind us that life goes on in a place while we are away, and in fact we’re always missing out on something when we’re absent. That of course doesn’t mean we should never go anywhere else, but we should always be conscious and appreciative of what we’re missing when we’re away from home.

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  5. The essay entitled ‘Wayland’ brings up several good points about human nature. Many of these show different emotions we face growing up and how they establish a relationship with the nature around us. He talks about his experiences as a child, one of these being when he first dealt with the subject of death. His pastor was someone he had grown accustomed to and one moment he was here the next he was gone. This is the same for all of us, we grow used to life and death as an ordinary occurrence through out each of our lives. For him he was unsure of where the body would end up. He wasn’t aware of the bodies need to return to the ground for burial. He then moves on to discuss how we drink from the earth or more specifically he drank the cider from the willow and still remembers how it ‘quenches our thirst, answers our hunger. Who having sipped, can forget that it is the earth we swallow?’ He knows the taste and the satisfaction felt from drinking that of the tree planted firmly in the earth. He remembers the barn filled with horses and the touch of their tongues against his bare hands. I enjoy his imagery used and agree that nature can present us certain pleasures. For me nature is and has always been something that I admire and know that I can sometimes take for granted; but it is all around us. I fills us with new inspirations every day. For Sanders it engulfs his life and how he sees the world. He then proceeds to talk about his teacher expressing her love of nature. This is how he took an interest. Or how has an adolescent he climbed a tree to be with his girl. In all of this he ties it all back together as one main idea. He states, ‘Afraid of dying, yes, but even more of not having lived, afraid of passing my days in a stupor, afraid of squandering my moment in the light.’ He wants to live life to the fullest and not let his fear of the unknown control the man he can become. I agree with this statement. All to often fear grips our hearts and keeps us from doing what we most desire. It stops us from living life to the fullest and taking chances. For me though, the chances you want to take must be something you have thought through and not just on a whim. Be certain it is something you want to do and then commit to it. Nature has a grip on all of us, but it is how you establish roots toward it that really forms a relationship with in it.

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    • 5 points. Very thoughtful analysis of “Wayland.” One of his main points, too, I think, is that living life to the fullest, as you say, can happen anywhere–even in small places and in places that you don’t leave for a long time. A lot of times, people think “living life to the fullest” must take place in exotic locales and/or must involve being in a lot of different places, but Sanders’ position is that that’s not necessarily the case.

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  6. In his essay “wayland”,sanders talked about his life in his little town and also his fear of unknow reason disappear which is dead for people when he was a child.He told us that he memory of this little town never changed even it changed a lot.At this point,I also started to think about my childhood memory.I lived in a housing estate with a public garden and I played hide-seek a lot with my little friends.At those moments,I thought there were giant trees,grotesque stones,unique flowers.However,when I getting older,I found out that when I’m in different perspective,cause I’m 100meters taller than I was a child,everything had changed even if actually sheldom changed in this garden.At the same time,in today’s walk out exercise,I realized eveytime we changed our perspective either mentally or physically,things changed rapidly and unexpectedly.This is also why human destory our home and nature so seriously without noticing it at early stage.The protection of our home,universe or Earth,also have to be start out small,in every tiny steps to fixed all kinds of problem.The interaction of us and Earth can also changed due to burial in the ground or even simple garbage classfication.

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    • 5 points. Sanders’ perspective on Wayland certainly has changed in adulthood, as looking back on childhood does for all adults. At the same time, Sanders is able to understand the importance and profoundness of that childhood experience to his life experience and adult perspective.

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  7. “Wayland” by Scott Russell Sanders really hits home for me because for all my life, I grew up in a small “fly over state” town of Plainfield. I grew up in a time when there was only one Church, one cemetery, and everyone knew pretty much everyone who lived in the village. As of now, Plainfield is one of the fastest growing towns in Will County, let alone Illinois. But even through this fact, I can relate by always remembering all the memories I had of the small town and not really being phased by the growth. I still think of it to this day as a small town of 5000 people, not so much 45000 people. Its a shame to see all the corn fields I drove by every day to grade school being built over with houses that all look the same, only for the company to go bankrupt and having empty half built houses everywhere. Every time I return form Iowa City, I see a new building go up, or the entire city filled with orange construction workers working on the next “big thing.” If we as a human race continue to do this to our selves, we will run out of area to plant and grow necessary things to survive. I didn’t appreciate enough what I had to look at and see when I was a child, but now that I am older I regret not taking it in more and just admiring the beautiful land we had around us. In the end, I am going to hold on to all the memories I have of Plainfield, because before I know it, it will go from rural to urban and nothing to show for it.

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    • 5 points. Urban/suburban sprawl continues today at amazing rates despite the economic crash of 2008-2009 and our growing understanding of how destructive it is to our planet. There are movements and efforts that are changing the way we build and live, but it hasn’t stopped a lot of what you describe here.

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  8. This was a piece that I was able to distinguish both sides of the story in a way, because I’ve actually kind of experienced the same things as Sanders does here, but also the opposite. I moved around a lot when I was younger but around the age of 6 we finally settled down in a certain city for a long period of time(still at this time) when I go back to my “hometown” that we finally stayed at I can completely relate to Sanders and what it’s like to go around town and not only remember the vivid memories, but also to just find it kind of eery when you see all of the changes that have happen while you were gone. I also can see how much of an impact the rootedness can have because when I’ve passed through cities where I didn’t stay at for very long and didn’t create these memories like Sanders describes, it is merely another city to me, unlike the hometown feeling that we get throughout this piece.

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    • 5 points. Great perspective on Sanders’ essay from the viewpoint of your own experience. Those visits to places we’ve lived before indeed can be strange, or inspirational, depending on our past relationship with them.

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  9. I am able to connect to Scott Russell Sander’s “Wayland” through the theme of returning to a past childhood home. Last March I visited a house in Berkeley, CA, in which I spent the first four years of my life. Being so little when I moved away from this home, I only had “snapshot memories” of my house and neighborhood. Sixteen years had past, and I was curious to see if the memories of characteristics I had still existed. As a kid I had always remembered the sand box and swing set down the block from my house. I visited that spot, only to find that it looked like hadn’t been touched since I moved away, with spider webs, decaying wood, and even a rusty toy truck which I had owned years before. Sanders quotes, “Beyond the arch, the woods and fields and houses of Wayland shimmered in the October sunlight, appearing to my jealous eye scarcely changed after a quarter of a century”. This quote refers to Wayland, Sander’s childhood home, appearing almost the same as he had remembered it. I felt this same sensation as small memories of my old house came to life through last year’s visit.

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  10. In Scott Russell Sanders’ essay “Wayland” he talks about his old hometown that he grew up, lived in, and moved away from. He also talks about his return to it, the changes, and how it used to be. I do not really connect with Sanders on the returning to a old hometown because I have lived in the same town my whole life. When I read this essay, instead of thinking of a hometown to return to, I thought about my old elementary school. It is a catholic school that is located about two blocks away from my house. My brothers and sisters attended it before I did, so I was always in the building as a toddler to watch my siblings sporting events. Once I was old enough I attended it from daycare to eighth grade, so I spent about 10 years of my life at that school. Nowadays whenever I walk through that school, it brings back all the memories and friends that I made while I was there. I also see all of the changes that had occurred, and I think of how things used to be arranged when I attended it, much like how Sanders does with Wayland when he returned to it.

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