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Ambush

Music of the Streets.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Fayetteville, Arkansas

I've wanted to write to you for some time and tell you about my trek up Sarah's Hollow beside the Mulberry with my best pal Buckaroo, tell you about friends and extended family, tell you about community and fellowship in the time of The Dissolution.

I tried twice or thrice, but the words began to appear odd on the page, as if I'd never met them before.

I thought it prudent to quit trying and just do it, knowing we won't get 'round to The Dissolution, not today; but knowing, too, that we shall get somewhere.

I'm thinking about the past, about the lost year at R _ _ _ _ _ and how it stands in stark contrast to the won years at Havana, thinking about how some among us are genuine and others are fake, about how easy it is to slip into condemnation when all most of us really want to do is get along.

Dissipation into Mangled Tenses.

Skills dissipate, the language becomes cluttered. I stand before a group and mangle my tenses. My mind races ahead of my tongue, silencing the formal voice in favor of folksy colloquialisms. I revert to the music of the street.

You know I can't be frank with you about R _ _ _ _ _, about what happened there and why I refused to accept the offer to return. I had to resist the tugging at my heart, chose to leave my students to other devices. They can manage. They are strong and resilient. They know how to build their defenses. None of us in the master's chair should ever trick ourselves into thinking we're a very big deal.

I offer in a cryptic way one shard of intelligence: The Wrangler lay in ambush, thirsty for psychic blood.

The Wise Admonishment.

Well versed in tactics and weary of the battle, I chose another path and walked on by. Was it a cowardly retreat, or a smart strategic maneuver? I've not settled the issue. You can see that. But I hear the wise admonishment: Why raise a ruckus when the alternative is to let it pass? Why fight an undeclared war?

I do know that even with those you love and respect, you can't be certain of how much to reveal. Fear is a real thing. It can rise up to blunt the power of sharing and deafen the ability to communicate the good that's out there.

I mean, I tell you, the truth is . . .    I know all of these amazing and wondrous people. They are you!

I want to tell the world about every one of you. If not the world, then at least my fellow travelers, tell you there remains a fine lot of good folk in a world gone wrong.

Has it? Has the world gone wrong? Or am I missing something?

It Can't Be So Very Wrong.

When I think of you when I remember the times we shared, the problems we solved, the others we nurtured and helped along the way I know it can't be so very, very wrong.

I think of the youngsters at Havana High, especially my former tenth graders turned seniors, and tell you how proud I was to see them gathered in the library last month. They had come for their senior pictures and what a fine group they were, standing tall and confident in the old schoolhouse, eager to cross the threshold into the year of their deliverance.

Leaving them, I knew once again I would miss the opportunity to teach them. Looking back, I see also that today's letter is peppered with I, I, and more I (me, me, and more me, the grammar checker suggests, but the checker doesn't understand the context, the nuance, the sustenance of self). Sometimes it just comes out that way, the proliferation of I. This time I'll leave it be.

Change.

I do know that something vital, something of value, something with profound personal meaning is emerging to change things here at Crow's Cottage.

I am eager for the arrival of autumn, not so much for the colorful leaves, but for the cool and bracing air.

I also wonder about limits and restrictions, ponder what can be done to ensure good sense and communal respect.

How can I capture the essence of the idea before it slips away?

Pulled from the Smoking Wreck.

A dear friend told me the story about one of our former students who was a passenger in a car crash, how the guy with her, the guy driving the car, just up and walked away, about how the car was on fire with our former student trapped inside, about how she was screaming "Help me! Help me!", and about how a teacher who stopped to help had to wrestle with the jammed passenger door, how another first responder just stood by and watched, shouting "Get away, get away, the vehicle's gonna blow," about how the teacher continued to tug at the jammed door, and how our former student was finally pulled from the smoking wreck, and one of her arms was almost severed, and about how she would have bled to death if the teacher hadn't removed his belt and used it for a tourniquet. A helicopter eventually arrived to fly her to a distant hospital. She survived.

I remember how she was in the classroom we shared during her senior year, remember her struggles and her triumphs, her determination to earn an A, pass the big test, and go away to college.

How long ago was your crash? What do you struggle with now?

Rejection, the loss of privacy, another's mania?

A tumor, diminished power, the absence of inspiration?

Promises not kept, money lost, the unexpected episode in the continual loss of innocence?

Does someone you once loved with a fiery passion become distant, far removed?

Are you at one place when you'd rather be at another?

How deep and wide is the estrangement from so much you once held dear?

I would rather you find everything you're looking for. I would rather you saddle a horse that rides. I want you to come back next time and read about my trek up Sarah's Hollow beside the Mulberry with my best pal Buckaroo. I want you to help me ward off The Dissolution.

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