School’s Out

BBQ to celebrate the last day of classes. The four of us celebrate, as best we can, markers of our children’s lives, and our own special triumphs while attempting to support our individuality.

Their friendship means something to me. I often wonder why some relationships work out and other’s don’t.

My last week of classes all too often become fatigued to the point that my squirrely thinking leads me to question everything. Easily, I begin to believe the lie that I’m a loser or people don’t want me around. Although I make attempts to shirk off these delusions, they linger. I usually retreat and isolate.

The last to leave, finding the solace in solitude, I sit in my “office” and take in the light, air, lines of the classroom’s image, and the sounds that make their way through the limited openings of the windows.

By 4:00 on any given school day, when the sun’s light takes a turn toward the western side of the building, I begin the process of leaving, which could take upwards to an hour. I move slowly to the rhythm of my hearts pace; no more or less than what’s necessary.

To be and then be nothing as I move through the paces of rounding up my belongings. The smells of the emptied school building envelope my senses. Sober reference, connecting to a greater purpose for me working here, beyond my own financial self interest.

I press the elevator button, always tinged with guilt that I don’t walk down the stairs to the basement. Indulgence, and privilege motivates me too easily. I exit the building through the back door, noting the emptiness of the school – feeling the heavy absence of people – the thousands that come through each weekday for the 10 months in operation. The last exit of another year.

At the end of school BBQ, the girls ask me about finishing for the year. How did grading go? What were the students like? Their sincere small talk, is just that, small. This light conversation provides a means for me to find my way through feeling like the outsider.

Eventually each inquisitor retorts the big reflection question, either with a sly somewhat envious grin or large bubbly smiles, “are you happy to be off? My forced smile never gives away my wincing frustration, and I exclaim, “I’m ecstatic! So looking forward to it!” My heart and soul, exhausted by my life watches as they happily nod in approval.

My friends mean well. They always do, but my angered, lonely, tired spirit makes me hungry for something different.

Each summer I am reborn by expectations of wanting better than how the year finishes. Each disillusioned perception signals the need to be committed to a summer rehab that will fix the broken end searching for a new beginning.

This year is no exception. In fact, the crystal ball’s future looks bleaker than in past times. The New Rules being applied to my job, with rubric after rubric, feeds a new level of insecurity.

The suburb BBQ redirects me. My girlfriend’s consistent efforts to celebrate slowly works me over and takes me in. School’s out for summer, and the School’s Out BBQ tastes delicious.

Return to the Idiot’s Root!

My inbox had my daily dose of TEDx Talk and it was George Papandreou Jr. speaking about the future of democracy within the European Union. He made a compelling plea to the European Union, and its allies, to enact more communitarian initiatives hoping to repair the systemic flaws in the political system. He advocated for the development of more global political institutions, which would better complement the global economy. Parochialism is dead and dangerous – and unless checked, it could further destabilize Europe’s, and in turn, the world’s, balance of development.

During his TEDx talk, Papandreou claimed the naysayers were idiots. Now immediately you would think that calling all critics of communitarianism retards might have some bearing. However, doing so  would basically be unproductive, as well as unprofessional. Papandreou quickly explained his definition of the term.

Referencing up the ancient greek definition of idiot, Papandreou gave his political yarn a new spin. An idiot referred to an ancient greek representative who was imbued with their own material political power over the welfare of the state. These ‘idiots,’ characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private—as opposed to public—affairs, concerned themselves with only local needs and wants. For Papandreou, idiots were born, and citizens were made through education. We would get to choose who we are.

These ‘idiots,’ layman without professional skill, would never be able to see the larger picture where cooperation, compassion and reciprocity provided a fairer distribution of goods and services, necessary to keep unity and fair trades. These laymen would have to change all that they knew –  to rethink how 21st political economies should work. He claimed the old models cannot be applied since the way we operate is so interconnected.

A new way of thinking is not easy for an idiot, ancient or contemporary. They would have to set aside all that they knew, and be open to a new experience, with less power and prestige. They would have to share more, and see themselves in the race and gender of others. Values perhaps would be universalized, although wearing different cloths.

One might say it is the idiot who gives up so much. But in reality, the real idiot is the one who cannot see how having so much excess is creating less for all in the long run.

Maybe we need some more TEDx talks to help.