|The past may not change, but how we see it, can, and how we use it should.||
Philosophy and Nonsense
(Thoughts about writing, education, and experience.) Presented by Forrest D. Poston
The first goal of teaching is to strengthen, deepen and refine our intrinsic love of learning. All other goals and all methods must stem from that idea. Any that do not support that goal must at least be questioned and adjusted, if not eliminated. Otherwise, we are not teaching but training.
Think, I dare you.
|What we build in the future depends on what we learn from the past.|
|David and the Revelation
by Forrest D. Poston
We spend a lot of time looking forward and even more focusing on matters at hand, but the future and the present can easily mislead us if we don't spend some time getting acquainted with past experience. Sometimes I take it too far and get myself restressed over some action not taken or some banana peel moment seen by the opposite sex, but the more time I spend exploring my biography, the more I find small moments tucked away, odd bits that seem meaningful now in ways I would never have imagined at the time. Perhaps I am inventing meaning as much as discovering or interpreting it, but I'm not sure that matters as long as the meaning reveals something, something that is sometime more true in its nature than in its history. Such is my story of David.
Our paths crossed few only a few years in elementary and grade school, back at that age when kids aren't supposed to be all that bright and aware, at least adults often like to imagine such limited worlds. Even when some of my other grades were not all my parents or teachers wanted, I always got A's in that under-rated "Works and Plays Well With Others". Partly that was because I was too shy to get into much trouble, and no one at school happened to push the buttons that could trigger an instant temper that sometimes bordered on berserker status. (And if I really wanted to do something, I was usually good enough to avoid getting caught.) Still, there were adversaries and enemies along the way. Some of them still raise my hackles even as I write, but others were more complex, and I see them differently today.
David is the one who stands out now when so much else, so many names and faces, have retired to the distant, dusty regions of memory. He had red hair and freckles, Opie with an attitude, but I'll keep the rest of his identity to myself. At the time, I would have called David an enemy. Certainly, he was my competitor. He was a bit of a bully, and I had a knight errant-protector complex. That would have been enough to put us at odds, but we were too similar to leave it at that. (Similar? I would not have said so back then, but I plead youth.) Naturally, we just had to be fascinated by the same girl in our fourth grade class, not that she ever knew it. For all our sparring and maneuvering around each other, we were both too shy to actually give her a hint of what was going on.
We clashed most directly for two or three years, starting in third grade if memory serves, but it was all limited to school. Even though our town was small, it was big enough that we didn't cross paths, especially since his family lived part way up the hill in management territory, and we were down by the tracks in labor country. In later days, hours at the city tennis courts would broaden my social life in interesting, if limited, ways, but pre-puberty I roamed within a fairly set territory. So only once do I remember meeting outside of school, just once during the summer after fourth or fifth grade. It was enough to torque my perspective even then, and not long ago a possible revelation finished years of gestation.
Somehow our paths met by the old Little League baseball field on Kaiser Ave. The field was long ago replaced by a church, and the shortcut I was taking is blocked, so our accident would now be impossible. We had time to avoid each other, and I've no idea why we cooperated with the nudging from the sometimes mischievous universe, but we began a conversation. The words themselves were soon forgotten, but the attitude and two ideas remain. His family was moving before school started again. Like many, his father worked for the local aluminum plant, and several of my friends had already been sucked away by transferred parents. Now, the tide had caught up with my enemy.
But this was no enemy I was talking with. With. This was a real conversation, an exchange, and it was wrapped in a very adult moment somehow. That's what I remember most. It was one of those times when part of me detached itself and seemed to watch, almost film, the moment from the outside, keeping a special record. And there was absolutely nothing childish about the moment, more as if we were equals sharing a moment utterly outside of time, unrelated to age, a truce, and perhaps an acknowledgement. He offered me a stick of gum, not even bubble gum but "real" gum. I accepted, and we parted. Two minutes, perhaps. Three? Certainly it was not one of the hour long interplays I became known for later, just a clip out of time.
Even then, I realized that it was a moment of its own, a moment with a texture and content different from the mundane. I was actually sad that he was leaving, although I also knew that if he hadn't been leaving, the conversation would probably not have taken place. That day rippled the edges of my mind from time to time, but nothing more came of it for perhaps 30 years. Sometimes, I'm slow. I've had some very good friends over the years, male and female, some who considered me a brother in spirit, a deep, deep bond. And I've felt bonds of other types, connections for which we have no name, so we call it love or hate. I once recognized an adversary from 10 feet away before we were introduced, a darkly touched person. I once fell in love at the sound of a name caught in passing days before I met the person named. I've learned that these bonds have little to do with love or hate but are matters of interactions, relationships of spirit, indications that we have something to learn, to teach, to share. Love, hate, sex, marriage are completely different matters for we are connected in a myriad of ways.
So what of this David? We learn that like sometimes attracts like, birds of a feather and such. We also learn that like poles of a magnet repel each other. And people sometimes get caught in the middle of that, drawn and repelled. Of all those friends who have come and gone, all those who are still out there, not in touch yet always on call if trouble comes, of all these, I suspect that David may have been most like me in some way the others are not. I don't know if we could have ever found our way through the tides of our bond to get past enmity to understanding. Perhaps that one moment was all.
Even if I used the marvels of the internet to track him down, the dust and debris we call experience may have covered that similarity past all recovery. Even with a shared spirit, I can hardly expect him to have made choices similar to my own odd, stubborn path. What I do know now is that these bonds exist, these connections beyond blood, and I try to be more aware, more sensitive to the deeper, complex relationships with the stranger on the street or the new friend, the passing moment or the revelation. Naturally, most people think I'm rather strange, but that doesn't bother me. After all, they've always thought that, and it's always been true.
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Writing and Education
Four Meanings of Life
Godot and the Great Pumpkin
A Major is More Minor Than
The Poetry Process (A look at 4 versions of a poem.)
Thoughts About Picking a Major
Quick Points About Education
Quick Points About Writing
Reading Poetry and Cloud Watching
Using an Audience
What Makes a Story True?
What's the Subject of This Class? (Being revised.)
Writing and Einstein (The Difference Between Information and Meaning)
Writing and the Goldilocks Dilemma
Links to Other Sites
Other Essays and Poetry
Something Somewhat Vaguely Like a Resume
Alec Kirby, Memories of an Earnest Imp
Being Like Children
Beyond the Genes (Dad)
The Blessing and the Blues
Bookin' Down Brown Street
The Cat With a Bucket List
David and the Revelation
The Dawn, the Dark, and the Horse I Didn't Ride In On (an odd, meandering, semi-romantic story)
Getting a Clue
Ghost Dancer in the Twilight Zone
The Hair Connection and the Nature of Choices
I Believe in Capra
The Mug, the Magic, and the Mistake
Roto, Rooter and the Drainy Day
Sadie on the Bridge
Trumpet Player, USDA Approved
The Poetry Process
Links to Other Sites