One of my close friends is a regular reader of this blog. She rarely comments publicly although she often sends me private notes, explaining her thoughts. I appreciate her sidebar comments; feedback is helpful. This week, however, I’ve heard nothing from her about the content I’ve posted; I sent her a note. I inquired about her health and then I asked if there was any particular reason why she hadn’t commented on my blog posts this week.
I shouldn’t have asked, but since I did, here’s what she said:
Your publishing schedule’s all messed up. Posts on Tuesday, nothing about gardening on Wednesday (Hell, nothing at all on Wednesday!) It’s all over the place. It’s a mess. It’s a mining disaster on steroids. It’s like the Johnstown Flood meets Hurricane Belinda in the Yucatan, has cocktails and schnapps and hurls rainbow-colored coal-dust vomit all across the Mayan ruins.
Sometimes feedback hurts, but I asked for it and I appreciated her comments. Thinking that my blog posts might be like coal-dust vomit all across the Mayan ruins got my attention and I wondered why things were so disastrous this week.
In the midst of all this swirling Technicolor coal dust, Reggie Black sent me two “MUST READ” articles by John Taylor Gatto. Reggie has encouraged me to read Gatto’s writing before and last night I disciplined myself to read these two articles carefully. I took notes and thought about them. I even called Reggie when I had finished and we talked about them because I wanted to make sure I understood what I had read.
Reggie’s smart; I’d put him in that category of “the smartest people I know” although he’d find some smart-aleck way to deny his bold intelligence. He might even be self-effacing about the things he knows. That’s Reggie, the international man of modesty.
The article was a critique of public schools and here’s the part that stirred up the coal-dust in my stomach:
But many of the rest of us were flushed clean away from our roots. We were forcibly retrained to regard our own families, churches and neighbors as expendable, disposable, exchangeable – to think of them as conditional on good performance.
I know it’s dangerous to take two sentences out of a grouping of two hundred and say “ah, here’s the root cause.” The article references this theme often, though, and I don’t think I’m in dangerous waters to say that Mr. Gatto is not an advocate of our current system of schooling.
We’re not going to have a big fight here on the blog about schooling today, though. The reason I bring it up is because this sentence helped me to understand why my blogging has been like a mining disaster on steroids this week.
Here’s a snapshot of what my roots look like.
I can name every person in that picture. Herbie Blackstone, Uncle Bob, and my pseudo-sister are all in it; the people in the picture who aren’t related to me by blood are related to me by love and through time. We were at The Club and it was three minutes to Hermfest 2013. Every person in that picture is personally significant to me and it’s difficult living far away from them. They’re not conditional for me. Instead of writing about it, though, I’ve been sick to my stomach and spitting coal dust all over the internet.
I’m sorry about that.
For anyone who might be feeling sick to their stomach today as they contemplate the vagaries of life, I send you my thoughts and prayers. There’s nothing wrong with love, concern, and sadness. The people we worry most about losing or the people for whom we weep most for having lost are the ones who are personally significant for us. We are not machines; we are human beings.
Pass me the broom so I can start sweeping up this Technicolor coal dust.