Maxine Greene passed away yesterday. Every single time I saw Maxine, she picked up the conversation exactly where we had last left it, as if I were one of only 6 people who had been in her apartment in the intervening months. But she had talked to hundreds, exchanged letters and notes and phone calls with hundreds more. “Did you finish that article on…?” “Do you still think Obama is…?” “How is your sister, Miriam?” “When Carol was here, we talked about Bill’s new book – have you read it?” There are only a few who know how to live life so fully. Salons. Students. Concerts. Lectures. Reading up. Dressing down. Imagining the possible for our children…and their children.
As so-and-so in this novel by so-and-so, she would say, as if all of us were as intimately familiar with the characters of every book written in the past 200 years as she was…But it didn’t matter. The quotation from the fictional character captured the point perfectly, brought us to those places in our imagination that so often pass unnoticed and yet, when given the attention they deserve, nourish our curiosity and the sense of the possible. She inspired teachers and scholars alike, in fact blurring that very distinction.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
Maxine, a mentor and friend to so many of us, lived a wild and precious life.