He comes to me often, these days – a portly, Friar Tuck of a man, draped in a charcoal gray suit speckled in chalk dust. He comes to me in recollection and day dream. He is gone from this earth. He has passed. I wonder what he would make of these upside-down times … though he grew up, a child in Germany during the Second World War … and he had seen darkness. What did he do with that experience, I wonder? Did he carry the scars of it deep inside? Or was that the catalyst that made him the Seeker of Knowledge, that he was.
Early days of History 101, he gifted me with an epiphany – probably the most powerful epiphany of my life. Perhaps, that is why I think of him now. I long for an epiphany … for an impactful moment of clarity, to shine a beacon of direction into the muddled black … as that Teacher – that Learned Scholar – had done for me, so many years ago …
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Question: Miss Shaw” – his base voice boomed, from the front of the class – rousting me from my less-than-cerebral contemplation on whether I should get my hair cut – or not.
“Well, um – communism … I guess … because, of ya-know … stuff I’ve heard, ya-know … about it being … um … bad.”
“Stuff you’ve heard. H-m-m-m … Well, of course, there are many adherents of the stuff-they’ve-heard school of learning … indeed, I’ve no doubt, that their numbers are legion. I suppose, your plan is, then, to continue to gather more information in this manner, until you arrive at firm, intractable opinions on any number of issues, such as this … I’m referring to issues that shape our lives and our world. Perhaps you’ll get lucky and run into someone, who has all the answers.”
By this point, I was feeling extremely foolish – and rightly so. I felt my face turning hot red, as I, straightened my shoulders and sputtered. “I could read books.”
He smiled – kindly – though I sensed I was about to discover I had just taken-the-bait. "Your thinking being: that if it says so, in a book, or maybe two or three, or even a library of books, then it must be so.”
“Well,” I hastened to add: “there is film on actual events, and reporters who investigate and documentaries, interviews with people who have studied the various issues, the opinions of other students …” my voice trailed off, in the awareness, that I had not – yet – hit the History 101 nail-on-the-head.
“So, you’re off down the path to enlightenment: reading and watching and listening … anything else?” he queried with a fixed straight-in-the-eye stare that dissolved into a cliff hanger pause.
“I could think about what I’ve learned and …” (like a chorus of muses swinging open the gates of Macedonia … my ‘ah-ha moment’ – my great epiphany – crescendoed like an ‘Eureka’ on loudspeakers) … “I COULD QUESTION ! ! !”
He beamed with pleasure, then. “Another one …. off to the library stacks. Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring”, he chortled.
“Pardon,” I interjected – my expression: likely a study in unmitigated bewilderment.
“Look it up, Miss Shaw,” as he began writing on the blackboard, in capital letters:
notes: In Greek mythology, the Pierian Spring of Macedonia was sacred to the Muses, as the metaphorical source of knowledge. In the 1709 poem ‘An Essay on Criticism’ by Alexander Pope, he wrote: "A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring."
graphic: through the maze – W. Bourke (I’m pretty sure the maze graphic offers a path from the question marks into the light. Though – as it was driving me half blind trying to prove it to myself – I gave up on that particular quest for an answer. ~lol~)
© 2017 Wendy Bourke