Saturday, May 25, 2013

My life as cycles (I)

  I see my life pretty much in cycles of between two and three years, give or take. When a certain amount of time has passed, I start or am started on another phase of my life. It isn't like I follow it with mathematical precision or anything, I most certainly do not, but when I feel ready or when circumstances, both positive and negative or neither dictate it, I move on to other things.
  The first cycle is the first seven years before I started school. It wasn't really that perfect or anything, but it’s what I see as real childhood. This was in the early sixties, before children stayed in kindergarten, so I stayed at home with friends, and we excelled playing in the vast wilderness surrounding us. I pretty much saw school immediately as I see it today, as a cruel limitation of life. Regimentation entered out lives and disempowered and destroyed as much as it possibly was able.
  «My schooling did me a great deal of harm and no good whatever; it was simply dragging a child's soul through the dirt».
                                                                             George Bernard Shaw
   Even as I excelled in pure learning the first few years, it eventually turned sour on me. It was just too damn meaningless and yet another method of regimentation, and I knew that, with every fiber of my being. The second phase is my first two years of school. At the start of the third I met a person that would become my good and trusted friend for many years. He accepted me as I was, but still kept challenging me to better myself. One of the few regrets I have in life is that, when the time came, I wasn't able to do the same for him.
  The third phase is the next four years at school, until we moved on to a new one and met new, even less impressive classmates. The three years following that, from I was thirteen to fifteen were just more of the same, more of the same unappealing bullshit. Everything good happened outside school. I had started writing my novels and my friends and I had lots of fun, especially during the long holidays, where the regimentation of school felt like something distant and immaterial. During the two months of summer we could almost forget all about it. We had long philosophical discussion in the night and learned to appreciate the beauty of the forest.
  Tenth grade was a little special at that time. It wasn't mandatory. Those attending did it to improve grades. The irony is almost too much…
  And, as it turned out: that year became more than a little special to us all. It started off fairly normal, with more of the same shit, but then, after a couple of months we got a new main, homeroom teacher. He basically ended up turning all our expectations about life upside down. That wasn't necessarily his intentions. The composition of the students also played a part, I guess. But what he did was to encourage us to grow on our own terms, to truly empower ourselves and not by learning lots of meaningless crap. He was an anarchist, a nihilist trapped in a world he disliked, and not necessarily very nice, but he helped us, truly helped us to find our footing, to find ourselves. He was only the third person to teach me my own value and he did that in abundance. That year was one of the best of our lives to that point. We reveled in our newfound freedom. Chaos erupted and grew the longer we stayed in that place. We, by our mere presence had become great and powerful Agents of Change. The others students began to emulate us and establishment held long meetings on how to deal with the situation. Establishment sighed with relief when the year ended.
  Among many things he taught us was to give the world the finger, and one of the results was that, at the end of the year all our grades had improved significantly. Even the teachers detesting him couldn't deny the results. We got better across the board, not just in the subjects he taught, but in all. I became a better writer that year, a better human being and made the first, nascent steps to become the truly independent human being I would eventually become.
  We, and the school were forever Changed…
  The next three years, during high school, we were back in purgatory, to the same, old shit. It was a colossal letdown. End of story. I call my thirteen years at school a beautiful disaster. At least, if nothing else it helped me decide what I didn't want.
  I had my first sexual experience beyond making out during those three years… and can still not recall anything about it. I had a blackout and I guess that is very symptomatic for those great high school years. I flunked, only in one subject, but the rest of my grades were so bad that it didn't really matter.
  So, here I was, twenty years old, without a viable education, and I felt nothing but base relief and joy, both because the suffering was over, and because of all the exciting plans I had for the rest of my life.
  On the day I turned twenty I swore I would change my life. I realized I mostly lived for others, to satisfy their expectations of me, and like a tape recorder repeated others' words and actions.

  I kept writing my novels and set up three main goals for myself to fulfill: I set out to truly become a writer, an author and to have my books published, to play poker for a living and travel around the world.

  My life as cycles (II)


Erin Kane Spock said...

I'm in the stage of my life where people are realizing their not young any more and either: panicing and being reckless or accepting it with some mild depression based on regrets.
I teach high school, so it's interesting to see the priorities in my student's current cycle and remember times when little things meant EVERYTHING. Life or death, such intense emotional responses. It's both comforting to know they'll get through it, and eye opening to reevaluate some of my memories.

Unknown said...

I like learning more about you..but it is your comment on the forest which hooked me.. I had a transcendent experience at about eighteen.. A city kid who never been int the forest met the Vermont woods. I walked into those woods and it was as if I had taken LSD (in retrospect, as I had not done so yet) I walked into thise woods & felt a pull so strong I thought I would never leave, but be pulled in and disappear..My true home..

Amos Keppler said...

Cindy: It was pretty much the same with me. I had little or no deeper experience of the forest before I started opening up in general. Once I was wide open I could truly appreciate nature for what it is. Every time I venture into it now it does indeed feel like coming home.