Wednesday, November 6, 2013

(somebody in our group gave a little speech at Hawkins Elementary School last week and allowed me to share some of it here on the blog for your reading enjoyment)

"There was in fact a tiny group of us, as reported.  And yes, sometimes we engaged in what is sometimes termed give-and-take style conversation.  Many people do not consider this activity to be the slightest bit unusual, right?  Some call it "an activity to be filed alongside all other important and/or essential activities."  So, uh... yeah, I guess there's that.  Uh... yeah, we all probably need to be a little more organized.  We're not above admitting our shortcomings, right?  That doesn't serve the interests of us eventually reaching our overall goal, which is to become an intelligent and cohesive group working for positive change in society.

Ok, let me see here... just a couple more things...

Our leader had been nominated for hardest-working person in America...our theme song was 'Half a Person' by the Smiths...our favorite food was applesauce...our favorite reading material was Twitter...our favorite season was winter...

Yeah, right, we really enjoyed staying indoors, and the bitter cold weather gave us another solid reason to do it.  So... yeah, you might be wondering... was it all about conversation?  The give and take of good conversation?  Was this really at the bottom of everything?  I don't know.  You're a difficult audience!  I'm watching your faces as I talk, trying to gauge how close you're attending... and yet... we enjoyed the great indoors.  Sometimes we went on imaginary canoe trips deep into primordial wilderness.  It was a big mistake most of the time.  I'll admit that.  We didn't understand mother nature.  Our leader didn't win the contest, and it turned out later that her nomination had been submitted in jest.  She was ok with it, though.  People in our group all enjoy a good joke, ya know?  We wake up very early in the morning and sit for awhile by the open window, even in winter.  There may or may not be conversation.  That's for each person to decide for themselves!  Somebody brings up the applesauce and the water and we proceed to eat and drink in total silence.  The conversations may continue, or they may end abruptly.  As in mid-sentence, sometimes even mid-word.  Again, that's a decision that we all must wrestle with as atomized individuals.  If somebody decides to go back to bed after just a few minutes by the window, that's ok.  None of us are very hard working, to be honest.  That's why the nomination was ironic.  Do we enjoy mother nature?  Do we enjoy having a theme song?  Do we have any formal reasons for pursuing give-and-take style conversation with so much focus and zeal?  Probably not.  We were born, somewhere on earth, into some family circle, went and received education, went further and procured some form of employment.  Do we perpetuate the cycle?  Again, that's up to each of us as desert-island-type individuals.  We enjoy foods from all around the world but applesauce is at the top of the list.  We enjoy many types of music but 'Half a Person' gets played every single day, many times in succession.  Does it make sense to ask why?  Does it help to engage in activity?  I would say that the answer is probably to both of these questions.

Our group was very little, let there be no confusion about it.  Besides Twitter, our reading material came from 10 or so different primary sources.  In terms of old fashioned stuff, there was always some Shakespeare, Cervantes, Montaigne, Robert Burton, and Emerson lying around.  In terms of modern stuff, there was Nietzsche, Kafka, Beckett, Bernhard, and David Foster Wallace, etc.  Some of these authors reportedly engaged in dynamic conversation for their entire natural lives, while some of them, at some point, fell silent, and continued on in a somewhat quieter vein.  That's just the way it goes sometimes, right?  There's a lot of factors to think about!  Do you want your career to have 'meaning'?  Do you want to work alongside others, using teamwork and team-building principles, or would it be be better for everyone if your work was the sort of work that could be carried out in almost 100% isolation?  Do you enjoy mother nature?  And if so, at what distance?  For example, during lunch break, is it possible at your workplace to spend any time at a local designated wilderness area?  Think about these things, ok?  Go home and talk with your family, friends, neighbors, online peeps, or whatever.  There were also random Taoist writings that we perused from time to time.  We wanted to make room for everything.  We needed to get our lives back on track, basically.  Waking up extremely early in the morning, when it's still essentially the freaking middle of the desolate night, and trying to make these distinctions, and trying to sit by the window, with composure, maybe or maybe not engaged in conversation, peering out into the stillness, silence, darkness, and solitude, wondering about the applesauce, wondering about the activities, wondering if our leader is really suited for the hard and thankless job of leading people like us.  Extremely complicated questions, many of them without obvious answers.  Maybe no answers, period.  Questions destined to go on forever, defying all and any solution.  

I'm not sure.  Maybe that's why we decided, at a certain point, to just go ahead and form our group.  None of us really liked conversation anyway, but we needed some sort of common starting point, right?  Looking back over the record versus not looking back over the record.  Eating freshly picked apples direct from the neighborhood orchard versus eating applesauce made very far away, parceled out into little snack cups or jars, and then shipped over the ocean, and stacked neatly in the neighborhood supermarket.  We sit up all morning, waiting, except for those with energy problems.  Those types just glance out the window, mutter something, shake their heads, and head directly back to their little cocoons.  We try to make room for everyone.  Some people in our little group have very obviously gone off the rails.  If you asked them, they would admit it.  Our group values honesty, sort of..."