Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Teachin'.

I had an emotional morning today. I was in my third period high school class, the Juniors, when one kid came to me with another teachers assignment. His English teacher had given her class Robert Frost's classic poem, "The Road Not Taken", and she wanted them to write down what they thought it was about. They asked me what I thought it was about, and I told them. if you haven't read it in a while, here it is.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I told them it was about taking the reigns of your own life. Going your own way. Making the scary, unexpected or unconventional choice and finding a rich reward. Make your own trail in the world, and you'll find a path that's more interesting.

Reading the poem and thinking about it, I was reminded of another. A long time ago I posted a video, stealing it from this guy. I loved it then, and it resonates even more to me now. I looked for it on the computer in the class room for about 20 minutes, frustratedly wading through sites that were blocked by the schools system. Finally, I found it, printed on some poetry page, and I had the kids come up to the computer and read it. It's called "Roll The Dice", by Charles Bukowski. Here's that video I posted before.



After class, as I was driving off out of the parking lot, headed for my next class in San Saba, and I found myself in tears, sobbing uncontrollably. Reading that stuff again brought back a lot of feelings that I usually hide behind a facade of confidence. It hit me this time, seeing these kids, with their whole lives ahead of them, opening their eyes to things that I didn't really become aware of until very recently.

It hit me, like a baseball bat in the gut. You could say I was feeling sorry for myself again if you want to, thinking that I haven't ever taken the road less traveled, or really risked anything. "No killer instinct", as a friend would say. It brought up all the old shit about how much of my life I've wasted, being safe and comfortable and avoiding life, whatever the cause.

All the regrets washed over me again. Now that I've woken up, I see clearly what I could have been, and it haunts me. I'll never have my youth again. I'll never have kids, or grand kids. I have a wonderful woman now who loves me deeply, but I'll always regret all the years when I should have been out there, learning who I am and what I want, risking things and living a full life.

Part of me feels compelled to chuck everything away and "roll the dice" to see what's out there in the world now, but I'm 48 years old! I've pissed away the dice rolling years, and they can never be brought back. I find myself now, holding tightly to this wonderful woman who loves me, and looking forward to a time when we can both retire and have some sort of good life together. Isn't that what I'm supposed to be doing at my age?

I tell myself that the time for picking a new trail is past me. I'm on this road to San Saba now, having finally achieved what I've always wanted on a professional basis. I'm a real Professor now, looking at another fifteen years of hard work, and then maybe retirement and some time to relax after that.

If I'm lucky I'll still have this woman who loves me, cooking for me, or I'll be cooking for her. We'll take turns, like we do now, and our love will continue to grow. But despite all that, there'll be a day come when I'll be the only old geezer in the home with no cool stories to tell. I'll sit back then, like I do now, listening to guys talk about their adventures and I'll try not to let anyone know what a looser I've been.

I think sometimes about what could happen to me in the next fifteen years. Anything is possible. The world could still be my oyster, but chances are I'll be drivin' up here to teach some day, zippin' along at about 75, and some stupid shit will go wrong. Odds are it'll ether be a drunk, or a cow in the road, or I'll probably end up swervin' into a guard rail while I'm tryin' to light a cigar. That's already almost happened once. You know, shit happens!

It would really suck, but it'd also keep me from having to listen to and think about all that old crap any more. I wouldn't need to pretend any more. What's better I wouldn't have to spend the next twenty years sitting back and watching as all of my best friends and family slowly die on me. You know, that's what really sucks about being the baby... Looking forward to being alone some day with my memories. Funny, but I find that not really giving a shit is kinda liberating.

Anyway, the library is gonna close on me, so I guess I'd better shut down this depressing rant and go show the jail birds how badly they did on their first Government exam. If one of those fuckers shanks me over it, it's been real. Cheers!

7 comments:

Mushy said...

If I hadn't already been privy to your follow up post, I'd be on the phone, trying to get in touch with you. However, unlike others, I know it all turns out well, and once again you have come to your senses.

Think of all the places you've been...ships and ports, albeit alone, except for your peers, but not completely alone. Sharing things with others is quite nice, but sharing it with a woman is special. Now you have that special time...fuck the past dude and focus on today. Tomorrow will only come as a surprise and another opportunity to explore life.

I erased the rest 'cause this is about you and I got into my own deep fears and thoughts.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Thanks brother. I had a moment, as I'm likely to do from time to time, but it's over. The dragon has slipped back into the cave and everything is cool. The follow-up says it, as you know. I sent it to you because i knew you'd freak when you read this one. I just had a moment. I guess I'm wired for these times, but I'm slowly getting over it. Everything you said is true. Today is really the first day of the rest of my life, and we'll make it fine. Fuck everything else.

Mushy said...

Exactly!

pat houseworth said...

Not giving a shit is good sometimes...I give a shit on things only I consider important.

{include the the wife and on occasion the kids}

If it ain't life and death, if ain't important....I regretted somethings in life, but soon forgot about that, because it's water under the bridge, and I have moved on.

Christina LMT said...

Regrets are useless, believe me, I know. My daughter graduates next year, and I've found myself boo-hooing on occasion, because her whole life is ahead of her, and I feel like mine is over already. Then I smack myself upside the head and move on.

GUYK said...

I once heard Ray Charles answer an interview question about him having regrets...he allowed he didn't have any although he knew he had made some serious mistakes.

He allowed that he just couldn;t regret decisions that he had made when he thought he was making the right ones..says he wouldn't have done what he did if he hadn't thought it was the right thing at the time. I reckon so...

I have often took that path that not many traveled...sometimes it was worth it and sometimes the reason there was grass in the path was the end just didn't justify the journey...but I wouldn't have know if I hadn't took the path

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Pat - I hear you man. I'm tryin' to think thatta way.

Christina - Feel free to smack me now and then, when I get stupid again.

Guy - That was a wonderful bit of wisdom there my friend. Thanks a lot. There are always folks out there with worse problems. I guess it just gets to me sometimes... Thinking of what could have been. Kicking myself for it. Useless. Useless. Thanks for the words.

Thanks, everyone. You all make my journey brighter. You have no idea!