MENTAL NOTE

"Though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run."
Blue, resist the urge to use facebook. You can do it. Good luck.
Cats and dogs can be friends. So can cowboys and indians. So can we.
Why try to be the best when there's no hierarchy in heaven?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

And Poof... She's Gone

Do you know that feeling when you're having a hard time taking yourself seriously? Not because you think you're no good or not worth anybody's while, but because you see things clearly when you really don't want to — like a deer caught in the headlights, only different. 


Tuesday afternoon. As I scribble this down on a sheet of paper watching my students doing their finals, I can't help but wonder if they're not wasting their time. Who in their right mind would be interested in linguistics and language acquisition when life is as short as it is?

Only thirty minutes ago, a colleague of mine knocked on the door to my office all misty-eyed and told me she wasn't looking forward to her final lesson. I said, 'Why not?' She said, 'Because one of my students just died.' Twenty-odd years of age and, poof, gone. Just like that. Knowing my colleague was pressed for time, I didn't ask for any details given that the only thing that really mattered was her needing somebody to talk to — if only for a few seconds. And as I sit here in my quiet little classroom watching my students struggle with the tough test I wrote only twenty-four hours ago, I can't help but wonder: why? Some of them are suitably red-faced and concentrating so hard you'd swear it hurts. Others seem worried, probably asking themselves how they could've underestimated the torture they were in for, and none of them are smiling.

But isn't that what life should be about — smiling? Doing what you really like? I know, most people on this spinning globe in infinite space aren't so lucky. Most people feel they need to take the bitter with the sweet. They accept the fact that they will first need to jump over hurdles in order to reach that higher goal which, when eventually reached, is bound to put that well-deserved smile on their collective face. It's called sacrifice. Maybe what I'm really saying is we people do things we call 'important,' things which everyone would agree fall into that well-known category of 'serious matters,' but what if we're just wasting our time? Shouldn't we be spending much more time with our loved ones? We are always in a hurry. We're always busy. We have no time. Busy, busy, busy. Oh really?

We see our own mothers maybe once a week, tops — if she's that lucky. I see mine twice a month because I'm so busy. And then some student I don't know dies and I'm, once again, stopped in my tracks looking in that metaphorical mirror wondering: why? I comfort myself thinking that twenty percent of them are here on a voluntary basis, meaning they really want to be in this room sweating and sighing, giving me a look that says, 'Man, this is hard!' At least they thought they did. And if that's how they choose to spend their precious time on earth — tick-tock, tick tock— I should just feel honored and give it my very best shot.

See, I'm feeling better already. Now, all I need to do is smile. But maybe not just now when some of them are looking at me. That would be cruel.

* * *

60 comments:

  1. Wow, that certainly puts things in perspective!

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    1. My point exactly. Hey, who are you doing!

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  2. Terrible tragedy about that student. Way too young.
    My mother lives many states away from me, so I see her once or twice a year. Trying to make it more often now as my parents are getting up in age.
    Time is precious. We do spend it struggling to get to a place where it will be enjoyable. I guess if it was enjoyable all the time we'd never press on to greater things. We'd probably just become piles of Jello lying around, not motivated to do anything. I don't want to be Jello. And I don't want my last meal to be Jello either...

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    1. Hi Alex. Of course you don't want to be Jello. The Jello look doesn't become you. That said, maybe we spend too much time trying to get somewhere instead of living the moment. Someone wise (you know him, look in the mirror) once told me this. But I hear you. No one would've invented a rocket by dreaming of Jello.

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  3. Blue,

    This is tragic and it does make one pause to wonder is it all worth it in the end. We must live our lives with the hope that life will continue on for us. I do, however, believe life is about balance and reaching those stars we dream about. If everyone just ran about doing whatever nothing would be accomplished. We do need to take time to smell the flowers in the journey..l"ve never heard anyone say they wish they spent more time at work. So what am I saying I am saying enjoy family and friends and why not meet that person that has been waiting on the sidelines to greet a friend. Just sayin'...Smile Blue even in sadness there is light.

    Love ya...

    why not explore new shores????

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    1. Have you ever thought about the possibility that human beings might be overrating the importance of accomplishments? Here is a medal... that kinda thing?

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    2. Of course I have thought of that I think many core values have been lost through the years. I have always traveled a different road..some accomplishments are personal in nature and the reward is internal for you alone to know you made it over that boulder or up that hill..do you need a ribbon when you pass a hurdle..of course not. You know me and what I value..life is about balance..I've yet to find that balance..

      Thinking of you my dear blue...

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    3. Balance... wouldn't that be a great reward? I have been unbalanced since the year dot, but I've been making some progress. Some.

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  4. Life must go on, its really tragic to hear about that. Things happen but we must stay happy and hopeful. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Happy and hopeful is the only way that works for me. But then again, I'm afraid of dying, so... And I mean that in a positive way for life is precious. Thank you for stopping by. You've become a regular Blue man visitor. I appreciate that.

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  5. Yeah, I know that feeling all too well. The only way to avoid falling into a crippling depression that results in inaction and a waste of this gift of consciousness is to join the inevitable flow of life, continue to gather those experiences that make life meaningful to one's self. Ultimately external meaning is rendered meaningless by the disparate perspectives of the other. Death is inevitable and crushing, but the best way to honor those passed is to celebrate the life you still are lucky enough to enjoy. It doesn't mean you can't mourn or indulge in the occasional existential crisis, but recognize them for what they are. Good luck navigating the halls of hyper-focused perspective.

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    1. Ultimately external meaning is rendered meaningless by the disparate perspectives of the other. Pick, you have a way with words that I can only dream of, but I hear you and I couldn't agree more. Still, what if we exist simply because we do. That there is no reason. Human beings always think in terms of logic and there being a reason. That's how our brains work. Dark and light, good and bad, male and female... life and death. Does that mean our being here has meaning?

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  6. the thing is you need to first feed yourself and the loved ones before hanging out with them :)
    Your students have finals already in May?

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    1. True. But what if you're not hungry? Or too hungry?

      Yes, they do. Next week as well. Those who don't make it are in for summer school. Or boot camp.

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    2. not the long, shiny, stiletto boot camp of yours????

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    3. But of course! It's the mother of boot camps.

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    4. pffft you missed to chance to write it as 'butt of course' :)

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    5. Just creating another opportunity... for you.

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    6. why, thank you sir, much obliged....

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    7. How doth thou showest thy thankfulness, Sir Muchobliged?

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  7. When I hear of the death of a young person, I think of his parents. A lot of tears, coping and pretending. I think of their eyes trying to avoid the empty chair at the breakfast table. I think of them trying to placate his dog, as it runs from room to room in search of it''s master. I think of them glancing in another direction as they pass the closed door to his room, recalling the notes reading, "private, do not enter." that he hung on the door when he was six. I think of them looking out the window at the car parked in the driveway, his Ford jalopy, spattered with mud from his drive up "Lookout Mountain" with his girlfriend. I think of them ignoring the cloying scent of funeral flowers that permeates the house. I think of them.

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    1. Thank you for this comment. Heartfelt does not even begin to describe it. You rock. I told you.

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  8. That is so young indeed. We never truly know at our feed. Can get hit by a bus and croak wishing we never awoke. Can you wish when you are dead? That could strain the head. Making all those students work hard at your sea, geez, how rude of thee lol Luckily, I never had to work hard at my sea, go to class, study the teacher and I knew what they exam was going to be. Aced most everyone, except one that even if I had triple the time I wouldn't have got done. Stupid teacher though they were funny, making it longer than Bill Gates has money. Is it worth it in the end? I guess to each that would depend. We see those at work more that our kids, spouse, pets and such. And people wonder why they lose touch? Plus work more than many should and become fat and bad health at ones hood. But you need food on the table, no goose that laid the golden egg fable. So damned if you do and damned if you do not. Unless you try a criminal plot. Then you may go to the slammer, free food and board though after down comes the hammer. Just can't be a dope and drop the soap. Life is what it is, can't beat the working biz. Worth it I say not. But have to do what you have to do to avoid a death plot.

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    1. Thank you, Pat, for this excellent comment. I here what you're saying and I get it too. Can you wish when you are dead? Good question. I wake up every day thinking: I'm still here. Pickleope calls it the gift of consciousness, and I keep having a hard time imagining what it's like to not be able to realize I'm still here; that only the people still breathing will be able to remember me, but I won't, simply because 'I' is, well, no more. Do you know what I mean? I know most of our fellow bloggers cling to an after life like it's a given, but I'm not that way, much as I would like to fit in. So I just wake up every day being grateful I'm still here. One day I won't be able to think, hear my own voice and be grateful. I find that hard, you know. Good thing human beings are well accomplished when it comes to burying our heads in the sand. Anyway, thanks for this wonderful comment. We make a lot of fun, but this one... well, let's say I really felt it.

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    2. You "here" what I'm saying huh? lol I know I shouldn't point that out, as mine had a few about. Head in the sand can sometimes be a blessing, until a cat walks by and begins umm messing. Then we wake up until we find a new spot and stick our head into the same old plot.

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    3. Crap! Not again. Good thing you wrote what they exam was going to be :p Don't stick your head in the sand when the beach is a litter box. You know what I mean.

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  9. Life can be gone in an instant. We have to enjoy as much of it as we can

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    1. True. But here's the problem: joyfulness only matters while you've got a consious brain to experience it. When it's gone, it's gone, and you don't even know it. Well, that's just my brain talking. It small and doesn't understand the universe.

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  10. So sorry to hear about that student! Life is short, but that kid's was too short!

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  11. My daughter's track teammate just passed away last month in a car accident. 12 years old. Talk about a life cut way too short. My daughter wanted to know why I was clapping for every girl, even the one's that weren't on our team, as they ran by. Well, because every girl is out there giving it their best. Life's too short to not lift each other up. We should all offer encouragement on making it to the finish line without quitting.

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    1. Life's too short to not lift each other up... See, that's why I like you, Theresa.

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  12. I'm interested in linguistics and language acquisition. I'm sure you are an excellent teacher, and I would enjoy every minute in your class. I've seen Favorite Young Man three times this week. That's the most I've seen him in a long time, and it feels good. I try to find ways to enjoy whatever I need to do.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Thank you, Janie. So kind of you to say that.

      Good plan. I'll try to do the same thing.

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  13. News like that certainly stops us in our tracks. And only 20 years old. How tragic.

    And I regularly wonder what there is to smile about ...

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    1. And have you figured it out yet?

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    2. No. And it appears you haven't either.

      Let me know if you do ...

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    3. oh, pull yourselves together you two... Lana del Ray will write a song about you if you continue with the depressive thoughts :)
      Good deeds, good friends, children, good people, those are the things that you should smile about.... And Dezzy is here too to make you smile :) Blue, shall put on my rainbow shorts so that you can eat my happy shorts? :)

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    4. Shut up, Dezmond. Good people? What good people? Oh, you mean Blue and yourself, I suspect?

      Righto, I shall sing 'Tiptoe Through The Tulips' for the remainder of the day, whilst smiling like a fool and thinking happy thoughts ...

      As you were :))))

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    5. not thinking happy thoughts but doing happy deeds, dear :)
      Our illnesses have broken our bodies, but it doesn't mean they have to break our spirits too..... 'tis the only thing we've left.....

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    6. Dezmond - Thank you for your advice, Confucius. I shall do as requested and execute a happy deed. And no, I shan't be putting anyone out of their misery ... per se....

      Blue - Dezzy told me (on his blog - I get around) that I've been dezzed, and that I should ask you what that means?

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    7. What! You have been..... dezzed? Oh my, Wendy, now you're in serious trouble. And of course he sends you to me... that dazzling dezzzmeister. I mean, I have been dezzed too and look at me! When you have been dezzed, it means he's put this spell on you that makes it hard not to like him. I drink tons of bourbon, stick my head in the sand (the one on top of my shoulders, Dezz!) and lie to myself 24/7 just to forget about the fact.... that I've... been.... dezzed.

      Need a drink yet? Yes?

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    8. there you go, you've both been dezzed! Whatcha gonna do about it?

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    9. Certifiably deranged. The pair of you.

      Dezzed ... by a dezzmeister no less ... I don't know. Hmm .. so, if I also stick my head in the sand, drink tons of bourbon and lie 24/7 is there any chance of being ... undezzed? No?

      And what am I going to do about it? Where the hell is the bourbon? That's what I'm going to do about it!

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    10. no chance whatsover but with a ton of bourbon you can end up dezztoxicated if that is what you wish :)

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    11. Wendy... I think one of us (Dezz and myself) is more certifiably deranged. I'm sure. Really sure. Dezz knows it too.

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    12. Yep. Definitively mad. One more so than the other (maybe) ... Saying that you're both delightfully entertaining nevertheless :)

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  14. Oh no! What a horrible, horrible shame! It's always hard to see someone leave this life too soon.

    People must do what they feel is best in this life, and sometimes what's best is not very pleasant. It can be difficult to make those determinations while you're in the moment, though. I mean, how can you really be sure that what you're doing is going to be for the best in the long run? You can't. Sometimes you just have to make a decision, take that leap of faith and make adjustments as necessary along the way. It's called "winging it," and I'm pretty sure that that's what all humans end up doing for about 90% of their lives.

    Basically, life is like a test. A test that no one has had the chance to study for. Good luck with that, people! (I'm rambling now, pay no attention.)

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    1. So true. Plus I love your rambling, for winging it is the name of the game.

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  15. Sorry to hear about your colleagues student.

    I'm watching a friend's daughter at the moment who has no clear life direction at 19; is taking a gap year because she can't decide what to do & is working part time in the interim. There is much talk amongst the "grown ups" about how she needs to be focusing on the "serious matters"; yet the grown ups complain about how little time they have to do the things they love. Sigh. Perhaps they should be encouraging her to have some fun while she is deciding - & better yet, spend some time having fun with her in the interim.

    It's certainly a difficult one. I sometimes wish my working life was more along the lines of something I loved; but maybe if I did it 12 hours a day 5 times a week I wouldn't love it any more. I love that it gives me the opportunity to do the things I love though so it's not all bad :-)

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    1. What I coincidence. And of course her parents want her to focus on the serious stuff in life. Typical, right? I call it burying your head in the sand while appearing to be a serious adult facing life.

      Well, at least we've got a job :)

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  16. God. Too young to die. Yes, Blue. Life SHOULD be about doing the things that are important and make us happy. According to my recent 'Meaning of Life' A- Z, that's exactly what everyone says we should be doing and ultimately what we all want to achieve at the end. So, why are we not all following that principle?

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    1. Good question. Here's the answer: because we have no power.

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  17. OMG Blue!! This is really sad, really.
    But I know the life is short and are things we never will understand! Sigh..

    xo

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    1. So true. Maybe it's for the better that we don't.

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  18. Oh, Blue... this is a very deep post. I am sad for that student's family and friends. However, I have had experiences that make me believe that she is in a better place.

    I am not religious at all and do not base my beliefs on anything but personal experience. Therefore, experience is important to me and I think that is what gives all those seemingly unimportant things we do significance.

    Perhaps all those monotonous tasks, all the sacrifices, all the obstacles that are in our path, are there for a purpose? Maybe learning in a classroom and learning in life and learning from reading and learning from traveling, mean something because we grow and our perspective grows with us.

    For example, do you remember when you were a kid and your family might take an hour long car ride? Would you get a pillow and a book and a snack and move into the car like you were setting out on an epic journey?

    That hour back then as a kid seemed so long.... now, years later an hour is very short. I think this is because as an adult my perspective is larger due to more life experiences and so in relation to that, an hour is very small.

    Actually, I think the notion I am trying to explain is illustrated in a lot of great literature like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Siddhartha.

    Those works of literature are open for interpretation but I think that is the point. It is all in us. In order to find our own course (what makes us smile) we must not be in Kansas anymore, we must go down The Rabbit Hole, we must experience our Hero's Journey. These are the things you describe as "sacrifice," or even "waste of time."

    And at the end of our journey we may find that we are right back where we started and our ruby slippers took us home.

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