Forces of Nature
Now it's time for tour preparation, leaving home for another almost month seems a wonderful yet exhausting prospect, though to be honest, these days I probably find it harder to relax when I am home for too long than I do when faced with a constant schedule in a little black binder. When I am in Austin the most relaxing thing for me to do is to visit the pre-school where I used to work and while away time with Noelle and the kids. We chase, throw balls, all of that stuff, and then I just go into the classroom with them and sit and chat as they make pictures or hit each other over the head with plastic cars. They have no concept of where anybody's been, what they've been doing, advances or failures, and frankly they don't really care. The only thing that matters is the immediate present and so the interaction is pure. It's all new- all discovery.
That ignorance, or lack of experience, is a really amazing thing. It seems that the older you get, the more of your freedom you are forced to abdicate. In reality, I suppose the reverse is true because you are gradually gaining autonomy from your parents, aacademic instiutions, etc... and guiding the course of your own life. But it doesn't really seem that way, does it? I suppose it's a give and take. To fix your eyes on something and then seize it, you must gradually incorporate increasing levels of beaurrocracy, and thus increasing levels of external control and influence. Who is really the key determiner?
I'm standing behind two of my students, Evan and Emmitt, who are plying with a stick at something on a tree trunk. I lean down and ask, "What are you doing?"
In unison: "Killing fireants."
"Killing animals is cruel. Just imagine if somebody smashed you with a twig the size of a fire truck!" This logic is quickly superceded.
"No, the fireants are eating this caterpillar and he's still alive. We're trying to save the caterpillar. I wouldn't want to be eaten alive."
This is true, being eaten alive would be terrible. I start thinking again about wonderful ignorance, about how these two five year old boys are naive enough to believe that by the elimination of fireants they can save the caterpillars of the world, I think about abandonding the scary inevitability of natural processes. How wonderful to be completely oblivious of all the things around that control you, that will one day control you. And then I start to feel terribly sorry for them, mainly because the environment is going to shit. I mean, global warming is completely terrifying and nobody seems to give a shit. What can we do, realistically, about global warming? How can we preserve things so that blissful ignorance can continue to pervade? And how touching and simultaneously heartbreaking to know that this crushing weight and worry rests on not only you and me, but also on two clueless boys trying with all their might to save the world one caterpillar at a time.
Suddenly I am snapped out of my thought process.
"But it's a force of nature, right Ramesh?"
"What did you say?"
"A force of nature, what happens with the ants is a force of nature. Right?"
"That's right, Evan. It's a force of nature."