20 May 2012

The End

The end of the academic year quickly approaches and I, for one, am most grateful for this swift passage of time. It has not been an easy one as far as things go; students were unusually abrasive and combative with regards to doing work of any sort. One student told me it was a supreme difficulty to watch a movie I was showing. That should speak - to any student, former or current - for itself.

Robert Frost has pushed himself into all this, as any good poet will do. He wrote of trees and swinging and the great fun of the innocence of youth, with such gravitas that the reader, such as me, can hardly walk away unimpressed. I'm thinking specifically of his reflection on those birches and how, in his youth, he was a swinger of such and more than anything, how he wished to go back to be: to be thrust past the invented cares and preoccupations of this world and its silly ideals.

A month ago I was on a sheep farm in Wisconsin: a state I never  before visited and a type of farm I never before saw beside a cursory passing. It was telling, that place, not only because of the mind-numbing sheep but because of the company and the overall setting, something that exists in a kind of perpetual sunset, blood-soaked red submerging beneath the horizon: that moment when you know things are fading and you don't know, for sure, what it means.

The experience reminded me of the relationships in my life: family, friends, students, colleagues, tax collectors, etc. The point is that none are simple, none are transparent. I'm often asked by a drunken slag who I am and what I'm about. There's an insistent tone in their questioning: they figure I'm gay if I don't want to experiment with them, if I don't want to hurry to some dark corner with their tired, liver-failed selves. They are, in the end, utterly perplexed by my simple and un-emotional refusal. I've grown to the point that none of this matters. None of it.

These last few years have taught me much about life and letting go of the things and relationships that  bound me in different ways. My thirties, I suppose, will be directed instead towards things that let me go: long walks and random books and conversations with those who come and go in my life like a pilgrim who passes a storefront. In the end, I suppose, nothing could be greater than finishing a breath with a word of gratitude for the complex and beautiful pilgrimage this has been.  So much has collided with the broken and the yearning that I often find myself a foreigner in my own place; nevertheless, there occurs one or two connections that transcend it all.

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