A former high school English and Humanities teacher, Caroline Castle Hicks, author of Such Stuff As Stars Are Made of: Thoughts on Savoring the Wonders in Everyday Life, is an award-winning freelance writer and poet. Her essays and poems have appeared in numerous publications, including two editions of the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series as well as Open My Eyes, Open My Soul, an anthology published in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 75th birthday. She has also been a regular public radio commentator on Charlotte, North Carolina’s NPR affiliate, WFAE 90.7 FM.
A Sample of Caroline’s Writing
It Goes Right Over Our Heads
Caroline Castle Hicks
Becoming an astronaut was not my destiny. I’m too claustrophobic, for starters, and advanced math was never my thing. But that didn’t stop me from developing a lifelong fascination with all things space-related. I’m one of those people who keeps track of the phases of the moon, the seasonal positions of Mars and Venus, and the likelihood of a meteor shower. It sounds paradoxical I know, but for me, there’s something comforting about the unfathomability of it all. Naturally, it makes my day whenever the local paper announces that the International Space Station will be passing through our celestial neighborhood. By now, my husband and kids are used to seeing a sticky note appear on the kitchen cabinet every few weeks reminding me of the exact time and coordinates of the next fly-over. Shaking their heads, they smile indulgently as I bundle up before dawn or leave dinner on the stove in order to keep my regular five-minute rendezvous at the end of our driveway. Sometimes, if it’s not too early or too cold—or if the TV isn’t too mesmerizing — they join me, and I keep hoping my cosmic cheerleading will rub off on them. We tend to get ourselves so revved up over the stuff that’s shoved in our faces every day-the latest sports statistics, the latest American Idol auditions, the latest antics of Brad and Angelina. For me, those few moments spent in the dark, waiting for a fast-moving pinpoint of light to climb out of the horizon, provide a wake-up call, a welcome reminder of what’s really amazing. Every once in a while, it just feels good to marvel, to stand in awe, not only of the universe, but of the collective earthly intelligence that vaulted a house-sized metal contraption into orbit and enables human beings to live and work on it for six months at a time. There are people up there, I think every time I see it, and I get goose bumps still. What do they see, I wonder, as they streak across the night sky, sometimes threading right through the notches in Orion’s belt. The whole east coast of North America, at least, its cities mapped out in lights, and all of it bumped up against the vast darkness of the Atlantic. A Saudi Arabian astronaut on the space shuttle once said that “on the first day, we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day, we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth.” The rest of us will never have that stunning perspective of our planet, but I think it would do us all a lot of good to step outside in the deepening twilight every now and then and watch for the ones who do. After all, watching them watching us can’t help but make our own world view a little bigger.
What Caroline says about WordPlay
In the dedication of my first book, from which my essay “It Goes Right Over Our Heads” is taken, I wrote that Maureen’s “remarkable writing and creativity classes have transformed me from somebody who ‘always wanted to be a writer’ into somebody who is one.” Maureen sometimes refers to herself as a “creative midwife,” and over the course of our 19-year friendship, she has indeed labored with me, nudging, encouraging and breathing my writing dreams into being. As I’m sure many of her other students could attest, she is often an incubator as well, keeping our dreams warm until we come to believe in them as much as she does. Her nurturing spirit and uncanny teaching skill make WordPlay a powerful wellspring for all of us who long to bring our creativity to life.