Nothing in my life has ever happened without my participation. I wonder if it’s real, the people who do things completely by chance, who meet people, go places, and have things happen to them through luck. I spent years, maybe decades, continuously falling downhill toward nothing. No random meetings. No love at first sight. Nothing but an empty existence.
When I began to do things, I developed the philosophy that there were no repercussions to anything I do. In a way, that has always been true. I do what I will, and the results are what happens. I do nothing, and nothing happens. I try to avoid harming people, but beyond that, there are no repercussions. Even if I don’t like how something turns out, it’s still worth my time.
There has been fallout, from words and deeds, but I am willing to take the blame, even if it’s not my fault. I cannot fix someone else’s behavior, I can only change my own, even if it’s just avoiding that person in the future. I would rather take the blame and move on than hold a grudge, and I don’t believe that I am so important that my anger could solve any problem. There is a difference between what is right and what works.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to control people, especially when you are the teacher. There must be structure, but how I feel always affects how I teach. I was never worse at my job than when I had to deal with the anxiety of the Christmas play, and I know that made my life harder. Now, I am still trying to really learn how to teach, not just the material, but to be that person.
Patience is a useful tool, but time must be obeyed in our class. I would rather let the kids play and burn out, but they have to learn. My older class is easier to deal with on science day because they want to talk about science. They play, and laugh, but they are still on topic. The younger class plays without the focus. I yell at them a lot more, and I always hear my brother’s voice when I do. I never sound so much like him as when I yell.
I keep questioning the tactic. Yelling works, but it’s not right. There are other ways, but they are never as effective. Students don’t respond as well to being excluded, to having things taken, or to politeness. They are old enough that sarcasm has begun to work on them, but even that will only work for so long. The best I can hope for is that they learn to use it as well as to be affected by it.
That’s always the twist when teaching children. Any action may be picked up and absorbed. They might pick up some words, but they internalize behaviors. Like in kung fu, yelling at the students either teaches them to obey when yelled at, a critical flaw in self-defense, or that words are powerless against them. That is the better option, but only when they become self-sufficient.
I’ve been listening to Joseph Campbell, the study of mythology. There are always ideas of what happens when a child becomes an adult, things they must do, milestones they must reach, but the most important thing is to abandon everything they have been taught. We spend so much time teaching them to look to others for answers, to call for help, to go to family and friends for protection, but the goal is always to help them find the point where they no longer need to.
One of the failings of so many adults is that they look to others to deal with their problems, whether it’s parroting arguments they heard online or simply hiring someone to fix their plumbing because they never learned how. One of my students always asks questions before he thinks. If the answer isn’t automatic, he doesn’t even try. By this standard, he is the most childish of the class.
None of them are self-reliant, and they are young enough they shouldn’t be, but there is a laziness that has been encouraged in him that will do him no end of harm. The problem is that it’s not really his fault. Children have some drive, and some personality, but they become who they are surrounded by. Many people change based on who is in their life, but few adults are blank slates in the way that children are.
But I wonder if the children who are obedient are any better off. They may be able to speak five languages, play multiple instruments, and do amazing things, but if the only voice driving them is someone outside themselves, how is that different than a schizophrenic? A voice that drives them, rather than a desire or a purpose.
I always wonder where the line for insanity lies, and I think it’s really about functionality rather than normality. There is a normal, but it is so vast that most people never see the edge of it, even those in the fringe subcultures. Anyone beyond that edge stops being able to function as part of society, and society usually can’t even understand where they are coming from.
Most of what I do is not mainstream. Kung fu, philosophy, traveling, studying, but all of it functions well in society. I have been close to the edge, but I never really wanted to pass beyond it. But in the end, I do what makes me happy, and that has cost me the mainstream life I once thought was right. But it’s not about what’s right anymore, only about what’s effective.