Thursday, November 27, 2014

Enjoy the Day

Thanksgiving is a quintessential American holiday, a combination of hucksterism and self-promotion, built on a foundation of tissue-thin fabrication used to paper over some dark misbehavior, soaked in a heady stew of consumerism. But this is America, and we can ignore whatever we want to ignore.

Holidays, particularly non-religious ones, highlight how we can absolutely make something out of nothing. That's not a complaint. I'm just struck by how we create castles out of air and move ourselves deeply by doing it.

I love parades. I've been marching in parades in the front row of a marching band for [counts on fingers-- holy crap] about 45 years. And a parade is very cool and yet, what is it, really? You line up some people and put them in costumes and stick some pieces of paper and plastic together in visually pleasing ways and then you walk down the street past a bunch of other people. The unique oddness of it is highlighted by the fact that television networks cannot cover parades well to save their lives-- watching a parade on tv is like watching a parade with the dumbest, most won't-shut-up distant relative you have. There's something moving and exciting about a parade, even if television doesn't know how to capture it.

And this afternoon, grown men will put on matching clothes with extra pieces of equipment and they will chase a carefully shaped bag of air up and down a field of manufactured green imitation-of-grass, and people will find that exciting, too. Tomorrow evening that same band I play in will have a concert, for which a big bunch of us will sit down and blow air through different configurations of shaped tubing to make sounds that create emotion and sensation in both us and in the audience. How does that even work? To me, it's nothing short of miraculous.

Human beings are such complicated, mysterious creatures, hell-bent on creating something out of nothing, striving endlessly to find a way to make our feelings and thoughts manifest in the world in some way that makes it possible for others to hear and see and understand us. And all of it is manufactured, created, invented, built out of nothing, and it requires a lifetime of learning to understand just to keep the lines open between ourselves and everybody else.

And so, schools.

I am thankful that I was born to teach, and that I continue to have the privilege and opportunity to do so. I am thankful that I have the privilege and opportunity to write and be read by others. I am thankful that my school still allows me to help students find a way to be more human, more themselves, more aware of how they can be in the world.

I am standing in a great spot. I am mindful of my responsibility to bring the best I can to that spot, but I am also mindful that much of what I can accomplish is about the spot where I stand, and not that I'm the one standing there. I am a fortunate and blessed person, and I'll spend the day remembering that and being amazed. I hope you have a good day, too.

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