Tuesday, February 22, 2011


     I heard a radio interview by Steve Lopez, author of The Soloist. I have yet to see the movie, but I was struck by the lyricism of the passage he read and decided to purchase his book.
     The story, of course, is compelling -- how Lopez, L.A. Times columnist, discovers a former rising star at Juilliard, now on Skid Row, and slowly helps the broken man rediscover himself.
     Their saga could also be a possible blueprint for educators and parents of troubled children, teens, and young adults. When difficulties arise, especially when someone under our care becomes difficult, we may try to impose our expectations on them. Or, exhausted, we may stop. "There's nothing I can do," we throw voices and hands into the air. "When he decides to change, he'll change."
     Lopez, in his hugely-challenging relationship with Nathaniel Ayers, combines both. He looks for what he feels Ayers must silently yearn for, excellence in classical music, then arranges the stage beforehand. Indoor apartment. Donated instruments. Music lessons. Makeshift studio. Exposure to great musicians.
     Lopez watches. Waits. Offers again. And again. And again. Perhaps most importantly of all, he establishes himself as someone Ayers can trust. Then, when Ayers is ready to move, Lopez has his set ready.
     It is a struggle; Ayers slides and fights and bumps and reverts. But he is succeeding. As Nathaniel would say, "Bravo."
     Now back to those children of ours...