Thirty years ago, on a bright January day, I decided to quit working as a part-time teacher and learn something about life.
The decision was not hard to make.
I was untenured, low man on the totem pole and developing all the insecurities that come with that plight. You don't know whether or not you'll be working next semester. It is up to the gods and the Dean. There was also the manuscript gathering dust in my attic, reminding me over the years that the dream would not age, while I surely would. My intention was to have been a writer, not a teacher. Teaching is a job, chores. It was what everybody else in my cirlcle did. It was kind of a temp position.
There were, of course, perks.
The night dean would come in, load me up with night classes, lead me to drink so I could come down from being
"on" all the time. Wife upstairs asking my whey I paced the kitchen floor and whom was I drinking with.
I had "people overload", everybody was nipping and tucking on me. I guess I was a good teacher, but my true vocation was writing, and here I was explaining to students the difference between the subjunctive and the indicative.
Yep. The good old "as it were" and as it really was.
As it really was.
I was teaching too much.
Forty hours a week, half of it at night. Talking, talking, talking. Gesticulating, demonstrating.
Intellectual stimulation all the day and then up to ten at night. Insomnia with my own theatrics and pumch lines still in my head, Johnny Carson impersonator, Professor Irwin Corey, Fungus Freddie of the science classes. Dr Suzuki goosing fruit flies for fun and profit.
I had to run away. To escape. To learn something about life. To write my great novel, which would finally put things into perspective. Theory of Everything... Einstein--now there was a cat.
Now Dr. Rip Van Winkle is back.
The book she is writ; the Einstinian pathway was a rollercoaster.
And what did I learn about life?
Except that science is theology and theology is science--both point marvels above and beyond and both try to form a synthesis. Science and religion sharing the same yoke.
And science is today propaganda---like religion?
I was either dangerously close to the Ass' Bridge where I thought I knew everything, or the very Matrix that everybody is writing about these days.
I was sitting in my loft apartment shortly after I came back from my odyssey.
Thumbing and old bible in Russian.
I noticed strange similarities between Hebrew and Church Slavonic.
Especially in one of the names of god, the old biblical one.
I was getting close, really close. I think I mouthed one of the names out loud.
And then a lightning bolt hit my apartment, and the earth seemed to split underneath.
This will be the last time I will go fishing in forbidden streams or roam in magical forests.
Send an apprentice to the underworld the next time.
The poet says,
Every so often one of us makes a run for the wall.
And brains himself against it.
But the wall knows more wittily than we about being alive.
I had hit the wall.
Oh that "subjunctive and and indicative."
Kierkegaard went mad with it.
And that, I suppose, I share with him.
"Mere literature," Einstein would say.
But Something is out there.
And it punishes.
...And I know that writing on these matters is somehow going to cost me. It already has.