I happily, in comparison to a week of futility and sadness, get up at my witching hour of 4:45am with a strong urge to write. To be able to move is a blessing. There is a persistent feeling that not much of anything, short of the spectacular, has any meaning. I know this can't be true, yet I feel obliged to recognize the sadness. The dreaded doldrum certainly recognizes me, knows my weaknesses, and merges well within, deep inside my psyche like an old sad friend.
I am glued to the bad news broadcasting over the air, Hurricane Katrina has punctured New Orleans, our American underbelly upturned for the world to see. What was once Labor Day weekend has become the shadowy memory of 9/11, the psychological parallel to my wife's suicide, and layered over this now in additional, Iraq and New Orleans incopetance. The ugly side of my nation mingling with my own sinster self-disdain.
Can the only silver lining be a negative? Bush looks bad and, in this case, bad is good. Continually all my life assumptions are undermined by the continual sea surge of neglect and denial. I feel so lucky in my life, simply because I have one while others don't... yet I remain coated in a blanket of dull despair.
Is there an empowerment close at hand? I keep reaching for a cause, because causes can get one lost in the moment. I am old enough to know, the only battle worth fighting is my own. That endless side step around old patterns toward reconciliation here in my head. Yet I can't help but think there must be a way to be so much more than just mucked up. So I will redistribute my attention on immediacy, angling in.
My work is 'language teacher' and here is my first crisis of faith. There is no master pedagogy that can blanket the needs of all my students. There is not even a general assumption of need, with student motivation both subjective and fragile, often as superfluous as teen fashion. The leadership is caught between a need to bump-up enrollment with customer gratification, and a pseudoscience of language acquisition. Few believe in much more than self preservation and their own island of methodology.
Sunrise a hint of violet on gray blue clouds. I wake to my morning messages from a slightly subterrane conscious. An inner voice chastises me on two fronts, my lost heart for teaching and my threatened heart from aversion to physical labor.
An angel of a housekeeper has come to put me in my place as she performs a season worth of housekeeping in just one day. Cleaning from room to room, to shed to garden, she excavates my cobwebs of inactions, a tornado of efficiency. I am put into my place, as a limbering lout ponderously procrastinating my life away. She is as her mother before her, manifesting perfection by applying the anal aesthetic to create a world of cleanliness. My uptight lust for orderliness is shamed, in my incompetence to manifest what I assume to be right. There is no hesitating in the righteousness of this angel.
By witnessing the fruits of the sweet laborer, I come to see the error of my ways in the quagmire of my employment. There is no orderliness there either, no manifested cleanliness of the soul. I can not see the trees through the forest, the students through the class. There is more lug-along reality to teaching than the romantic heroic self image I long for. The bravery is in facing the normalcy, and this is where I cower.
I love to criticize the world around me. In flamboyant bravado, I stand on my soap box explicating in prose my endless con job of self-aggrandizement. I chatter about how my students, the next x-generation of Japan, refuse to work in factories nor in the rice fields of their ancestors. Who, I wonder, will produce the milk and honey, the material goods for their capitalists, when everyone expects to be as me, a member of the service-providing leisure class?
How brutal to see my own hypocrisy. As a child of the American work ethic, as someone who willingly surrendered labor for the shallow integrity of a hundred service professions, how can I be anything but guilty? I am the affluent that suck the cream from the top and then blabber on from my academic podium of the laziness of this generation.
How I hunger for self-justification. A rational explanation for who and what I am. What curriculum can serve the future? What survival skills do I have to offer these precious children that is both rich in integrity and potent in promise? They deserve instruction grounded in a wholesome fertility, yet I provide seed poisoned with platitudes of despair.
Is this notion of clean earth for planting a fabrication of my 'child of the 50's' mind set? The inherited 'cut, burn, and then clear of stone' fields of my American come-later ancestors, laced in post war-years with petroleum based pesticides, what organic vision have I to offer? Shall I leave the corrupted corpses of my own sorted values their in the soil, make fertilizer from the decaying decadence, the corrupted corpse of my holy hippy years as self-proclaimed savior?
Surely there can be some sort of consistent honesty. Surely I have extended to the very limits of my sociological leash enough to know where my freedom ends. Isn't there some way where I can face the lump I have become, and the clay from which I was made? The fingerprints of the potter are all self evident. Why do I hesitate to articulate his name? Obviously I fear his wrath, so I circumvent our direct dialogue through a venue of confessional writings. I am a child afraid of parental anger, dancing around the truth in a naive monologue of rationale.
I fear insanity. That and heart disease. Maybe because I believe now I have both, operating just below the surface. They compliment each other. A reticence to move, to the point where I can barely bend over anymore, and an insatiable appetite. Suicidal slope, as embarrassing as it is unnecessary.
Autobiographical self-absorption makes for tedious reading. Yet embarrassingly this is what I do. Narcissists are self-possessed, this is a fundemental. The perversity of our infliction is how unaware of our unawareness we remain, despite the glare of reflective surfaces in our life.