U. Munich, 2004
…Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
I forgot to take off my shoes. But I did make it to this spot; the University; where I did see and I did hear... perhaps not well enough. Maybe it was my shoes, maybe it was my paperwork. But I made it to the atrium where Hans and Sophie Scholl threw the leaflets that defied the Nazis. That’s another story. Maybe I am undergoing some kind of transformation. That’s another story as well.
The story here is my six year teaching “career” and what I have learned from the students. Let’s call her Sarah. She’s a single working mom with a minimum-wage factory job. She works full time, takes care of her kids… and now she’s going to school to get that infernal “degree” in hope of a better life without dullness and drudgery. She deserves a teacher like Buddha. Instead, she gets me…and my bitter manifesto.
Maybe Sarah didn’t care about “learning” anything and just wanted her ticket punched. I didn’t want to hang her with more drudgery and paperwork… although I’m sure she would have taken it like the trooper she is. I got to see Sarah actually become interested in something new. Sarah taught me that a novice can write from the heart and get over comma splices and run-on sentences without realizing they’re doing it.
I’m sure Sarah has no idea what a comma splice is, doesn’t do them any more, found her own voice and someone who appreciated it. And, yeah, I did that deliberately. I can’t take credit. She had it in her all along. And without realizing it, she moved “…toward writing that requires thorough and sustained inquiry and analysis.” She created her own “genre” because her “audience” knew what she was trying to say.
Sarah’s greatest “audience” was her own noble heart. She didn’t need to learn all the wanker dogma about packaging. She simply needed to apply her natural determination toward abstractions expressed by words and phrases. Her own metaphoric tools worked just fine, and she learned to perfect and polish them with precision. She talked, she listened, she wrote and read. I finally got to see her smile.
I hope her kids will be there when she learns how to laugh again.
More bloody blather:
Our Empire of Dirt
An Old Friend's Ashes
Every Tear Would Turn a Mill
The Strange Family With Small Lanterns
Very Well, Alone!
The Culture of Looting
Spring in Alberta (A Christmas Story)
Cheaties! The Breakfast of Winners!
The Answer to Everything