I wrote this about someone a bunch of years ago. I was practicing writing about people other than myself.
It was about a real person. Or at least it was my real take on him.
Now as I read it, I see him in the descriptions. I also see another. And another. And maybe another.
In their specificity, the words become universal.
Somehow, that is always the way.
Nothing about him makes any sense, and yet all of his pieces taken together create a whole more complete than anyone else I know.
An anomaly in the physical universe, he is unbounded by time, but able to be in any moment of it, the ages of all of man contained within his mercurial soul. Continue reading
One of the positive things that came out of Superstorm Sandy for me, is a new ease in letting go of things. (Ok, maybe ease is not the right word. I mean, if you look around my classroom, most of what adds the personality to the room as been gifted to it, or me, over the last 10 years or so.) But in the short span of time since the catastrophic wave with which Sandy turned my home into into a host for growing fuzzy mold and my stuff into a floating garbage heap, both of my parents have passed away. It’s been a rough three years, and a lot of stuff to let go of. But, like I said, Sandy left me with a newly honed ability to purge things.
It was with that purging skill at full throttle that I was tearing through the desk in my office and I came upon a small square sticky-note unanonymously anonymous, upon which the sticky note writer had left me one of the best things anyone has ever said to me. “You know how we all want an August Boatwright in our lives? Well, you’re mine.”
Much as I love that thought, and hope that some piece of it is true, I have a hard time accepting it, because August is one of the wisest people I have ever met. You know the kind of person I mean. The ones who know unknowable things. Who make you feel safe and challenge you at the same time. Who take your questions seriously, without mocking, without that “someday you’ll understand” smirk that the false sages wear. The ones who don’t have to say much, don’t offer advice in the traditional way, but hold up a mirror in which we can see ourselves and get a better sense of our place in the world. The ones who seem to have mastered, as much as that is possible, what it means to be human.
I rarely think of myself as a master of anything, let alone the infinitely complex and paradoxically simple practice of being human. There is so much to figure out as we fumble our way through the incalculable combinations of person and circumstance that flow around us and near us and through our lives every day, that the thought of mastering even one thing seems laughable at best, megalomaniacal on a Donald Trump scale of pathological egotism.
But I am a master builder. Continue reading
One spring day last year, a friend and I were quixotically tossing around titles for a book we would someday write together.
Choose Truth was an option, but it sounded too much like a command. I’m not much for telling anyone else what they have to do.
I Always Choose Truth was another. It sounded better, but it didn’t sound true.
I (Almost) Always Choose Truth. It was good and true. (Or mostly true.)
I’m choosing that now in homage to a beautiful and fruitful friendship, and laying claim to the title, for me for now and for something else someday.