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A toast to Mr. Siebert and all of you

Created on: 09/22/14 08:55 PM Views: 3357 Replies: 4
A toast to Mr. Siebert and all of you
Posted Monday, September 22, 2014 08:55 PM

The class reunion was wonderful.  I only wished there would have been enough time to really get to see and experience everyone a little more deeply.  The speeches were great and I particularly enjoyed the mention of Mr. Siebert.  It inspires me to tell my own epitome of his influence on my life.  

Life has provided me with a canvas awash with the richness of contrasts.  I have to say he definitely exemplified exactly that for me. 

A tragic accident took the life of my brother, Michael,  in my sophomore year of high school .  Grief punctuated the world I knew.  I was living in a black and white movie and agony lurked beneath my polished veneer.

That same year, I was gifted with Mr. Siebert; even though it didn’t feel anything like a blessed gift in the beginning.  Both my brother and my cousin, Brent Wilde had Mr. Siebert before me and had laid the foundation on which I landed.  And the theme of their relationships carried over to his attitude toward me. 

No matter how good I felt I wrote, he made it known to me I had a challenge on my hands.  It didn’t help that from the back of the class I had muttered the name, “OLD SEABISCUIT”, as I had heard both my brother and cousin call him.  I quickly knew I had chosen to choreograph a particular challenge into my personal life drama!  It was a battle of wills and the gantlet was thrown down. 

The more I tried to take command of my identity as a creative writer, the more he let me know I hadn’t perfected those skills.  The angrier I got, the more opportunity I had to descend into the  emotional barrenness that my denial had supported. He prodded me energetically into facing the truth of what lied buried there.  The darker my writing got the more engaged he became.  I was painting my words with the pain in my heart and transcending the numbness I felt.  He was onboard with this process and redirected his energy from persecutor to friend.  Mr. Siebert became my best friend.  He was a mentor beyond words, but beyond mentor we had a deep soulful friendship that I will never forget.  

He taught me not to question the foundations of my own truth.  There is not a guidebook penned by someone else to give me a roadmap.  My inner voice knows my way.  There is no greater gift than authenticity.  Mr. Siebert taught me to be authentic and to speak from my heart.  He taught me to experience my experience; live life fully; feel your feelings deeply, and to know that the highest expression of your experience of aliveness is in knowing that all of it is your own creation.

There is an art piece in my studio that has the phrase:  “is willing to accept that she creates her own reality except for some of the parts where she can’t help but wonder what the hell she was thinking.” 

We’ve all had quite a ride in life, not without scuffs and bruises.  It wasn’t meant to be entirely pleasant.  It was meant to be full and rich and rewarding in ways that cannot be measured, maybe until this physical form expires and a higher perspective is seen and known.  I walked into this life with my eyes wide open.  I knew something more than most around me, something I hadn’t forgot on my journey here; And all I can hope is I continue to immerge with my eyes wide open with a taste of my own divinity and yours.  I am a hero at the heart of all I would criticize and fault.


One cannot transcend the limitations of humanness by limiting the experience of it. 


A toast to Mr. Siebert, to Life, and to All of You.



RE: A toast to Mr. Siebert and all of you
Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2014 11:23 PM

Sharon -- Now I am more than sorry that I didn't get to connect with you during those magical short hours.  What a finely written piece you have posted!  You and Mr. Siebert shine on among us for sure!  Here's another toast back to the both of you!  (Enough exclamation points?  But I am being authentic.)  I remember being in Mr. Siebert's class, but I don't remember what year or semester it was, and since neither Mr. Siebert's name or photo appears in any of the Annuals, it's hard to verify his existence.  From the distance viewpoint of 50 years, I remember a lanky, tall man with dark, thick hair, and dark bags under the eyes, with a high forehead and romanish nose.  A serious scholar, I see him now as a man in exile, sent by circumstances to our desert community, but still with a burning passion for teaching excellence in word weaving.

Now for a stupid memory, a bit of trivial minutia that hardly bears repeating, but is part of my high school fabric.  It feels like a springtime memory, warmer days, for Mr. Siebert has no tee shirt beneath his cotton dress shirt, which allows some curly, black hair to slip out between two buttons like a SOS pad glued to his belt buckle.  Not a big deal, except if you are Marilyn Foster sitting in the very front desk by the window row where he stands leaning against her desk to lecture.  I honestly didn't laugh; I was silently embarrassed for both of them; but there were some giggles.  I think I wondered how and why he had hair there, because I certainly did not, and couldn't imagine that I ever would.  But was it worth writing about in my next essay?  I decided not to go there, and to this day am thankful for all the things I thought about and DID NOT say these past fifty years.  O God, forgive me for all I did say that I wished I hadn't!  And thank you, Mr. Siebert, for the Lesson of the Hair.  You,as Sharon testifies, were and are a very fine teacher.

Russ Rehm 


RE: A toast to Mr. Siebert and all of you
Posted Wednesday, September 24, 2014 12:03 PM

Oh how funny.  

His character is definitely a descriptive one that one could not possible imagine in their head.  

Did you know or remember the top of his head was blown off in an explosion in the war which accounted for the blacked eyes and skin around his face and the patch of glued on hair.  The grafted skin smelled like rotten eggs.

 But radically contrasting his appearance, he was a very refined sophisticated man.  He was a very gifted pianist.   When he played, the music played him.  He was a very deep and beautiful man.  Would it not be fun to see the things he wrote?  

His life spoke volumes to me on a lot of different levels, my only regret is that I don't know more of his story.  I am sure it would be an inspiring biography to read.

Thanks for stirring up the memory.  It is one worth remembering!

RE: A toast to Mr. Siebert and all of you
Posted Thursday, September 25, 2014 06:31 PM

Thank you, Sharon, and you, too Russ for your memories and reflections on Mr. Siebert. He was indeed a deep human being with a passion to bring out the best in his students. I'm not sure I ever knew about his war wound and how that affected his appearance. He could certainly drill into you with those deep-set eyes!


RE: A toast to Mr. Siebert and all of you
Posted Sunday, September 28, 2014 06:45 PM

Thanks for the memories...Mr. Siebert was one of the most inspiring teachers ever. He used to read the Edgar Allen Poe stories in class and he kind of reminded me of Vincent Price in the way he presented them. My mom and I would see him @church some Sunday evenings wiith his "lady friend" and he was always very engaging. It helped me to view him as a real person, rather than just a teacher....