Hi Joe,

Monday, 17 January 2005

I almost went into teaching high school. It’s such an electric time for the mind. They lie about so much then. They don’t tell you how you’re being held back. They don’t tell you that Michelangelo carved the Sistine Pietà before he was 25. That Isaac Newton developed calculus a bit younger than that. What is known so deeply at 16, that life is all but over at 25 and all but gone at 30, isn’t anything but Truth. School, except for that one, sometimes, teacher is nothing but social gelding, graduating social skills enough for Retail or Burgertown.

The emotions without a name in any dirt born language, the intensity, the clarity. I knew at 17 I was smarter than I ever would be again. Every year some sophistication, insight, and control improves, but about the rest, I was right.

School, like all bureaucracy and public works where there is neither punishment for ineptitude nor reward for excellence, gravitates toward the lowest point possible. Of course it’s a waste. Of course they can’t see it. You do. Unless you go ivy league, you’ll see the same or worse at university.

The things I wish I knew then: What’s right is what’s right because it keeps you sane and in self-respect; those are things that matter. Loneliness is always temporary and it’s not the worst thing, by far, in life. Happiness isn’t wrong and it persists past its weaker cousins. The ones who don’t get it don’t matter; you can’t get mad at them, you can’t blame them; they’re not in your way, only you are.

You’re twigging early to it. It’s not fun but it’s good. A lot, I mean most, don’t get it till they’re waist deep in a 30-year mortgage, a fictitious marriage and a stack of babies, with a cheap seat at the cube farm, hair growing in the ears.

I’m not sure why you thought to write me. I’m glad you did. Don’t toss your moment or surrender your clarity. Don’t flinch.

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