A character, even if it is based off of oneself, is not real. His or her experiences don’t have to follow the way of the rules of the world. The character is given a blank page every five hundred or so words, a new chance to create his or herself, a new chance at being somebody, a new chance at redemption, a new chance at life. So embrace your inner character. After all, everyday is a new page that we should not be afraid to write.
“…residential camps consisted of young native children that had been forced to leave their homes, were not allowed to speak their language and were treated very cruelly( they were beaten). And Canada SHOULD be ashamed of what happened but they can’t just hide these facts from us. Being a little bit native myself I already knew about residential camps, I was so shocked when almost all our class had never heard of this. I noticed that in textbooks they make it seem like Europeans and Natives were “working together”. Not really. It seems that the textbooks given to us in school are trying to create the image of Canada where things are peaceful and always have been.”
The United States is flip-flopping between its support for Mubarak and its support for the Egyptian people. This is primarily caused by the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood will most likely take power of Egypt if Hosni Mubarak steps down from the presidency. According to many Egyptian people, the Muslim Brotherhood is an extremist group who are very much opposing the U.S. influence in Egypt. Due to the geographical location of Egypt in relation to other countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. is most likely afraid that these countries will eventually ally against them. This provides a major threat to the U.S., and the government there is unsure of which side to support. It is true that they have given a lot of funding towards Hosni Mubarak and have been in a political relationship with his government for many years now. This has been one of the main reasons why Mubarak has stayed in power for so long, fulfilling the United States’ goal to maintain Egypt as an ally. However, the strength of the people in Egypt is growing in these riots that have been occurring, while that also shows that a new leader needs to step into place very soon. Despite this, having Egypt in the control of the Muslim Brotherhood is not a very good idea, so a new party with different representatives is the key in Egypt. However, Egypt’s first true democratic election in almost thirty years will obviously be decided by its people, who will now have the right to elect anyone. The rioting in Egypt will end as soon as Mubarak steps down, but the problems created from this crisis on a national (for Egypt) and global scale are unlikely to end stop soon. As for what will happen to the bond between Egypt and the United States, it will most likely be severed if the Muslim Brotherhood takes power.
It may seem an odd thing, considering that Egypt and Israel have fought four wars since 1948, their people are generally opposed to each other, and until the Camp David Accords, Egypt did not recognize Israel’s right to exist. But the flow of American money is meant to stabilize Egypt and that it has – for thirty years Egypt has fought no war, and indeed has not even had a regime change. As Mubarak, a former military man, receives all this monetary aid, he has channeled the money into the military, which certainly contributed to stability. But how did it do this?Money can create stability in two ways: through investment in the economy and social programs to keep the people happy and self-sufficient, or through investment in the military and other security forces to keep order for a discontented people. There are times when the second option is preferable – like, say, Israel in 1948 – but generally, the first option is the best thing to do. Egypt was not really particularly threatened by any of its neighbours, and even Israel, the most controversial power in the region, is very unlikely to attack a major Arab power, for obvious reasons. So the question then must be asked, should the American aid go to buy tear gas canisters, used only to suppress protesters, or should it go to create jobs and a livelihood for thousands of people? What do you think?
I just don’t understand your views about how the Egyptian government “is fair and righteous”. As Mr.J pointed out, Amnesty International says “The most pressing human rights concerns that Amnesty International has documented are the use of emergency legislation to arrest and detain people without charge or trial; the widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment; grossly unfair trials of civilians before military and emergency courts; restrictions on the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly…”An article in The New York Times states “The government [of Egypt] has maintained what it calls an Emergency Law, passed first in 1981 to combat terrorism after the assassination of Mr. Sadat. The law allows police to arrest people without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly, and maintain a special security court.”
Next, the police, who you said “are present to stop the people from blowing themselves up or setting each other on fire in anger; they are not Mubarak’s bloody torturers.”, are torturing and raping people all over the place. You have Mr.J’s example from Amnesty International “In addition, government security forces have harassed and intimidated people engaged in public displays of support for victims of the bombing.” You also have a variety of examples of police brutality from The New York Times, “The Egyptian police have a long and notorious track record of torture and cruelty to average citizens. One case that drew widespread international condemnation involved a cellphone video of the police sodomizing a driver with a broomstick. In June 2010, Alexandria erupted in protests over the fatal beating by police of beating Khaled Said, 28. The authorities said he died choking on a clump of marijuana, until a photograph emerged of his bloodied face. In December 2010, a suspect being questioned in connection with a bombing was beaten to death while in police custody.”
I know teachers tend to throw out mixed messages, “Be open, share. Be careful, be scared.” This could be an authentic real world experience to create something beautiful with a larger group of people than those within our immediate community. (I invite other teachers to share this Flickr setand this post to see where it can go. Ask your class to leave poems, stories, haikus, comments anything. Maybe we can write a book, record an album…)
There are many things we can do with the images, the words, the connection. I hope that at least a few of you will share a few ideas in the comments below. I don’t know who will respond, but that is the beauty of sharing in whim 1, if you throw enough out there, occasionally something beautiful will come floating back.
The above photos were shared on Jabiz Raisdana’s blog with an invitation to Zach Chase‘s students to join into the fun with the proposition that if enough comments, poems, phrases and inspiration and were left on the photos, Jabiz would write them into a song that he would share for future mashup, remixes, or…?
What will you do with it? Download it. Remix it. Add your voice to it. Set it to images. Create a video. Rap it. This version is only a draft and is not even close to being “done.” Tear it up!Stones by intrepidflame
And while I mightn’t have “tore it up,” or reinvented any of what had previously been created or recorded, I sat at my kitchen counter after work on Friday, donned a set of headphones, and spent the better part of an hour adding my own voice to a project spanning both North American coasts that had gained its initial motivation and impetus from an unmet friend in Jakarta, Indonesia. In kind I offer my own addition to the project in the hopes that it inspires others to lend their own creativity, perspective, and voice to collaborative expression that would have unthinkable even five years ago (to me, anyway), but is today the sort of thing that can be accomplished on a Friday afternoon, between work and dinner.
We’ve been talking about the benefits – personal and collective – that come with sharing a lot this week in the Talons class. Seeking an elusive objectivity in media and student reflections on the recent tumult in Egypt and across the Middle East, the class has moved past a definition of the (capital ‘T’) Truth which linearly separates Right & Wrong, or Truth & Lie, to an understanding that we can only know what we might collectively deign in shared exploration, conversation and reflection, and that this process must be ongoing.
Yesterday we distilled some of the more potent aspects of these expressions in a Typewith.me page that we hope to continue to shape, sculpt and share in the coming weeks, as a first experiment in working with the web as not only a research and publishing platform, but collaborative space wherein there are few, if any, limits.
Share, and be vulnerable: it may just be what we’re here for.
To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love ourselves with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee; to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this, just to be able to stop and instead of catastophizing what might happen just to say, ‘I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable is to feel alive?’”
If it is true, what Liam wrote yesterday, that, “Collective will is the most powerful force in the universe,” then we are truly onto something here. Let’s keep it going.
Today, Zach Chase writes, looking back on what a week it’s been, is the day you jump in and create something.
Bryan’s note: this is so the title of the book / album / movie. ↩
This week semester two began with the class’ study of Manitoba’s Red River Rebellion, Louis Riel, and the explosion of Egypt’s political upheaval. On the edge of a new unit, and the coming onset of spring, the Talons have set out to uncover the truth behind media and political interpretation of both history and recent current events. Seeking the more basic truth of individual experience and expression in a record of social bookmarksand blogposts – not to mention comments the class is attempting to answer personal questions about the goings on in Egypt and Middle East that were identified as relevant topics on the class wiki this week:
* What are the conditions that have created the anti-government sentiment in Egypt? Where else do such conditions exist?
* What are the specific goals of the protesters? Who is emerging as their leader / spokesperson?
* What is important to know about Egyptian history or culture to better understand these recent developments?
* What has the Western (European, American, Canadian) response to developments in the Middle East been?
* What conditions or factors influence the West’s decisions regarding these countries’ fates?
* Who and what is the Muslim Brotherhood? What do they want?
* What emotions factor in journalism?
* What does ______ have to gain by influencing different outcomes?
* What is the media’s responsibility: to tell its audience what it is expecting to hear? To challenge people’s existing views or opinions? To objectively present information?
* Are there viewpoints or perspectives missing from coverage of events in the Middle East?
Along with the collection, and discussionof many different brands of media’s coverage of the recent struggles for freedom across the Middle East, the Talonstook to the blogs last night, and haven’t looked back. They began by seeking out the untold stories, the truth behind the media, even only in as much as they could interpret their own response to them.
I have read so much about these protests, it’s all I can do but to try and imagine what it is like, standing side by side with so many others, all fighting for freedom. I wish I could say that I have done something like that, made a change. Who I am, and what I do, is hardly history textbook worthy. I am a child, a child in a never-ending world which stretches on forever in any possible direction.
For the past week, this is all I have been able to think about. But then, just this night, something occurred to me. The cause of the Egypt rebellions was from a push; a movement from the people of Egypt, but more specifically, the youth. Whenever an article on this is written, you can bet that it usually at least mentions social media as one of the causes. Does the “Facebook Revolution” sound familiar? Or maybe Twitter? These were the means by which the word was spread, the dissatisfaction in the government and the voice they felt they didn’t have, and the realization that something could be done about it.
In this article , it is thought that Khaled Saeed’s death was one of the many factors in the start of the Egyptian protests. On the news, there was some footage of demonstrators holding up pictures of his face and shouting “Khaled Said!” with passionate anger.Khaled’s brutal death was one of the events that pushed the Egyptians to voice their anger, but was it worth his torture for the sake of his country’s change?Do you think that if he was alive today, that he would endure immeasurable amounts of pain to have the same outcome? Would you do that for your country and for future generations?It sounds as if I’m bordering on sacrifice here, but that’s what this is isn’t it? Only a small percent of people can actually say whatever comes to mind and publish it for whoever to see without having to sleep with one eye open.The other percent are faced with the possible death of what they believe, who they love and even themselves if they share what they think.And they do it anyways.It seems as though Khaled was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and happened to be given a glimpse of how twisted everything really is.The people who were trained to protect and provide an example, were instead exploiting their power in order to get a quick fix.I think Khaled’s death was one caused to uphold an image, but then later on turned into ammunition for millions of people who were wronged on a daily basis.I don’t know this man, nor will I ever get a chance to meet him, but the fact that he chose (unknowingly, perhaps) knowledge instead of his own life, made me admire him anyways.And that is what Khaled said.
And Lexi wonders if she – and perhaps the rest of her classmates – might be onto something bigger:
It’s like I’ve started pulling at a thread that doesn’t end. And maybe that’s the thing about truth. Maybe truth cannot be absolute, irrevocable, and undisputed.
Egypt’s rebellion will be known as the “Revolution of Dreams”. This vision is where thousands of men and women work together to fulfill. Leonardo DiCaprio once quoted in the movie Inception “Once an idea has taken hold of the brain, it’s almost impossible to eradicate.” As a result, the Egyptians voiced out, allowing the world to make known of their words. And through this movement, we come to understand that when “people power” unites, it will ultimately conquer the government.
Raw facts, especially numbers are the truth, however when it is being reported, it become opinion. So, really a report is like myth. At the heart of every myth there is a grain of truth.
I think, as I told Richard in a comment I posted tonight, that this grain of truth is the essence of our study of history through communication:
The socials curriculum is weaved out of stories of exactly this sort of political instability and unrest:
we study the revolutions of England, France, and in America
we reenact the Confederation of Canada
we are introduced to rebellious figures such as Louis Riel (who in his own time was a fugitive of Canada – teaching highs school in Montana – before being hanged for treason)
These lessons, and a continually rigorous interpretation of current events are the basis of a responsible participation in democracy, but also the pursuit of illusory truths that are the telling, and retelling, defining of human history, starting with a record and discussion of the present moment.
Which brings us right back to Megan, who writes perhaps some of the most inspiring words yet rendered on the class blogs:
And then you come back to me. Still sitting in front of her computer, and still on the opposite side of the world. I am a child, in this age of information. But I am also part of the age of information. I have just as much say in what occurs as everyone.
If what happened in Egypt is any indicator as to what can be accomplished through communication, I think that maybe, I need to realize, or maybe we (and I’m talking to all my fellow youth out there) need to realize that if we organize we can accomplish something big. People may say that children and youth are better seen, and not heard. But you know what? We are the new generation, and we should have a say about what sort of world we are growing up into.
So hey, there’s my two cents. Just tossing it out in the world of the internet.
But I guess you might say this:
I know that it actually matters now.I am a participant in this age of information.
The class will be engaged in a process of exploring a diversity of opinions across these topics in the coming terms, and invite your input in our discussion, if you, too, are possessed of an opinion about the way of the world, at this unique moment in time.
You can check in with the discussion on the embedded blogposts and bookmarks on the Talons Socials Wiki, as well as Blog and Comment feeds in RSS if you would like to subscribe.
In response to Chris Kennedy‘s recent post of British Columbian edu-bloggers, and in the spirit of referring my fellow bloggers (and blog-readers) to the people that I read, I thought of putting together a short list of a few noteworthy local student-bloggers. I hope that their blogs can further become hubs of communication around their evolving educations, and that their voices might be lent to the rest of ours in a larger conversation about the future of education.
At the risk of highlighting the myriad astonishing aspects of the entire TALONS class set of blogs, I highlight these three student blogs as diverse examples of young learners continually creating the blogging medium in their own image. Arranged from oldest-to-youngest.
As I said, these are but three examples of young bloggers I have had the good fortune to meet and work with, and who challenge me to be a more prolific, progressive, and productive blogger with each new post. I’ve seen posts recently by Dean Shareski andWill Richardson asking about student bloggers pro-actively creating their own online brand, above and beyond what their class and student-blogs might ask of them, and heard Andrew B. Watt ask much this same question sometime last spring.
But I haven’t been referred to too many sources of student-blogging leadership (outside the international Student Blogging Challenge, and Comments4Kids program, which both tend toward the elementary, or middle school grades), and would appreciate (as would the Talons class, I assume) any leads and links you might be able to leave as a comment to this post.
I believe this is what I want to be when I grow up… if that makes any sense.
I want to be a meaningful part of this education revolution! EVERYONE (not just the students in the TALONS class) possesses the skill and capacity to achieve. The current education system doesn’t promote that anymore. A lot of the students “learning” in a “run of the mill” education system are not reaping the benefits that they rightfully deserve.
If technology and other aspects in our life have changed so much, why didn’t education?
Sitting down to recast an updated listing of the RSS feeds, Twitter favourites, and podcasts I make a habit of perusing on a daily weekly monthly basis, I would be remiss to not isolate one of these sources of infotainment above the others — the unparallelled public radio institution that in all honesty, I cannot praise highly enough: This American Life.
My love for public radio goes back to a few consecutive summers I spent living in the woods at the Gus Blass Scout Reservation in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Outside our tents on Saturday afternoons, furiously packing our things for a weekly twenty-hour furlough into neighbouring Conway, or Little Rock, the Saturday broadcasts of NPR would accompany us into cars and down the dusty road leading back to civilization and the comforts of home.
Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion, All Things Considered and Morning Becomes Eclectic quickly became a part of my weekend routines. Doing laundry, drying moulding sleeping bags and pillows, and catching up on massive debts of sleep accrued in the sweltering wilds of Camp Rockefeller, I was kept ample company by the likes of Diane Rehm, Robert Siegal, Mr. Keillor, and others. And even now I am never far from a host of disembodied voices that accompany me (in podcasts) on road trips, insomniac nights in bed, runs around the inlet trail in Port Moody, in headphones, car speakers, and the tiny drone of my iPhone’s audio output.
These days, there is an unequivocal champion in garnering my listening attention. His name is Ira Glass, and he hosts a little show called This American Life. Part gonzo journalism, part contemporary American fiction, part living history, This American Life is many things to many people, and difficult to describe. The long and the short of it, as Mr. Glass prefaces every episode, is that “Every week we choose a theme and then bring you a number of stories on that theme.” Where each show goes from there, well…
We view the show as an experiment. We try things. There was the show where we taped for 24 hours in an all-night restaurant. And the show where we put a band together from musicians’ classified ads. And the show where we followed a group of swing voters for months, recording their reactions to everything that happened in the campaign, right up through their final decision. And the show where we had a story for each of the Ten Commmandments. Or the one where our producers all collected stories for a weekend at the same rest stop. We also occasionally do our own versions of stories that are in the news, including award winning economics coveragePlanet Money. that spawned another entire program called
We think of the show as journalism. One of the people who helped start the program, Paul Tough, says that what we’re doing is applying the tools of journalism to everyday lives, personal lives. Which is true. It’s also true that the journalism we do tends to use a lot of the techniques of fiction: scenes and characters and narrative threads.Meanwhile, the fiction we have on the show functions like journalism: it’s fiction that describes what it’s like to be here, now, in America. What we like are stories that are both funny and sad. Personal and sort of epic at the same time.We sometimes think of our program as a documentary show for people who normally hate documentaries. A public radio show for people who don’t necessarily care for public radio.
To get started, or to even see if This American Life might provide an introduction or addition to your podcast, or talk-radio listening, subscribe through iTunes, or check out the website’s Favourites Page. You can also browse through more than ten years of the award-winning program in their archives (which is handy, as downloading old episodes on iTunes costs 99 cents). It is honestly difficult to find an episode not worth your time.
Some of my recent favourites:
Notes on Camp – Fittingly, this episode tells the “Stories of summer camp. People who love camp say that non-camp people simply don’t understand what’s so amazing about camp. In this program, we attempt to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between camp people and non-camp people.”
The Georgia Rambler – The This American Life team heads to Georgia to retrace the steps of 1970s “reporter Charles Salter [who] wrote a column for the Atlanta Journal called “Georgia Rambler.” He’d get into his car, head out to some small town, and ask around until he found a story. This week, nine of us go to Georgia to try it out for ourselves, in small towns all over the state.”
Origin Story – An eclectic collection of “little-known and surprising stories of how all sorts of institutions—from a controversial legal precedent to a Hollywood teen dance flick—began. In one story, a man tries to set the record straight about his life’s achievements, which he says include inventing thumb wrestling and popularizing the eating of shrimp in the New York area. And the story of a seven-year-old old boy trying to figure out where he comes from.”
And if I’ve yet to see you thus far, even the Simpsons know how cool Ira Glass and his little program are (though I would probably skip the Condiments episode):
I told one of my friends’ parents about TED about a year and a half ago, and have since heard him tell various groups of people that “if you participate in no other mental exercise during the course of a week, spend twenty minutes to watch these things called TED Talks…”
Regardless of whether or not he credits me with first telling him about the site – he never does – I have to agree that making the time to watch one TED Talk tends to yield the Lays Potato Chip Effect of one-becoming-at-least-five, and is an economical means of filling one’s imagination with the ideas shaping today into tomorrow.
Here are five TED Talks I enjoyed this week (you can subscribe to TED podcasts, RSS, and other materials here):
Robert Gupta | Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity
“This was the very essence of art, this was the very reason why we made music: that we take something that exists within all of us at our very fundamental core, our emotions, and through our artistic lens, through our creativity, we are able to shape those emotions into reality, and the reality of that expression reaches all of us, and moves us, inspires and unites us.”Robert Gupta
Shekhar Kapur | We are the Stories We Tell Ourselves
“We tell our stories, and a person without a story does not exist. So Einstein told a story and followed his stories and came up with theories and came up with theories and then came up with his equations. Alexander had a story that his mother used to tell him, and he went out to conquer the world. We all, everybody, has a story that they follow. We tell ourselves stories. So, I will go further, and I say, I tell a story, and therefore I exist. I exist because there are stories, and if there are no stories, we don’t exist. We create stories to define our existence.”Shekhar Kapur
Sam Harris | Science can Answer Moral Questions
“So, this, I think, is what the world needs now. It needs people like ourselves to admit that there are right and wrong answers to questions of human flourishing, and morality relates to that domain of facts. It is possible for individuals, and even for whole cultures to care about the wrong things. Which is to say that it’s possible for them to have beliefs and desires that reliably lead to needless human suffering. Just admitting this will transform our discourse about morality.”Sam Harris
Temple Grandin | The World Needs All Kinds of Minds
Chris Anderson: Thank you so much for that. You know, you once wrote, I like this quote, “If by some magic, autism had been eradicated from the face of the Earth, then men would still be socializing in front of a wood fire at the entrance to a cave.”Temple Grandin: Because who do you think made the first stone spears? The Asperger guy. And if you were to get rid of all the autism genetics there would be no more Silicon Valley, and the energy crisis would not be solved.Temple Grandin
Jane McGonigal | Gaming Can Make a Better World
“An epic win is an outcome that is so extraordinarily positive you had no idea it was even possible until you achieved it. It was almost beyond the threshold of imagination. And when you get there you are shocked to discover what you are truly capable of. That is an epic win. This is a gamer on the verge of an epic win. And this is the face that we need to see on millions of problem-solvers all over the world as we try to tackle the obstacles of the next century. The face of someone who, against all odds is on the verge of an epic win.”Jane McGonigal
I grew up with the sea, tasted its salty breezes and threw rocks into its seeweedy depths. A small dirt path concealed to all but those who knew of it led from the bottom of my cul-de-sac to a rocky outcropping where the tide washed in. Here, in the placid waters of my early childhood, I combed the beach for sea glass and pottery chips, swam to barnacled and grassy islets, and let the summer sun crust the salt to my legs.
The Islanders on San Pedro too lived by the sea. But their’s was a wild one. The sea washed through the pages of Snow Falling on Cedars. It soaked the story in storms and mystery and defined the rhythm of the islanders’ lives. San Piedro was an island of “damp souls” with a “rainy, wind-beaten sea village, downtrodden and mildewed.” The sea wind gusted through the town, “making its single traffic light flail from side to side” or causing “the town’s electrical power to flicker and stay out for days.” Yet the beaches glistened with “smooth stones and sea foam” and somehow it managed to retain a “brand of verdant beauty.”
Your definition of a friend: “Oh sure I’ll talk to you behind a screen but I really dont have the social skills to come up and talk to you in person” or, “Hey! I saw the back of your head as you were leaving school one day! I should probably add you!”
My definition of a friend: “Hey Donya! So we’re still meeting up for the movies on Friday right? I cant wait to spend some time with you!” and ” Oh hi Donya. I heard you were sick, so I picked up some candy on the way home for you Candy can fix anything!”
The traffic through the park slowed down, until I felt like I was the only one around, outside of the occasional car that drove through the calm in my head. I went through every song I’d memorized, and I looked around, watching the sun as it fell behind the bare branches of a tree off in the distance, the darkening sky, and the unchanging and, at the time, empty park. Nonetheless, I continued playing, and though only myself and the air around me received my music, the aloneness of the moment made me feel…quite content.
Mockingbirds have also been referred to in the real world by Charles Darwin as a prime example proving his theory of evolution. This is also why Atticus, Jem, Scout, Boo and all the other mockingbirds in this story are starting the “evolution” of Maycomb society to become more peaceful and tolerant. Before the Finches, one would assume that the town of Maycomb were unanimous in their dislike of Black people and religious beliefs. In comes Atticus and his children, and suddenly there is a different opinion forming in the town. People like the Finches are still a minority in this book, but it starts the evolutionary chain for Maycomb, from where they were then in the 30’s to modern day 2010. Though the story of Maycomb County ended in 1935-ish, our society today could still benefit from more evolution in terms of racial tolerance and equality.
One day back in November, I barely missed my bus, and as a result I spent a solid 20 minutes alone, just watching the rumbling clouds go by. I remember that moment for some reason, I remember thinking about transit and how intricate the system was. I thought about the peace that the bus brought me (usually anyways…). I got home and proceeded to write the first of many non-mandatory blog posts. So, in a way, the bus got me started writing. Whether it’s stillness or talking that I find when I bus that day, it results in the same thing: thinking. Often, after that comes writing.
At this point, my mother comes running up to the car window and I throw her the phone. I sit in the car and watch as my mother stands between the girl and the road, talking to the 911 dispatcher. I realize that this girl is not hurt seriously. She sits up onto the curb and continues to wail and laugh and cry, all at the same time. My mom tries to help her up but all the girl wants to do is flail her arms and yell profanities. My mom puts the cellphone away, and stand protectively over the girl, to make sure she doesn’t try to run on to the road again. The downed girl’s friend is standing off to the left side, talking about how she doesn’t want the police to come.
They slouch behind the back gate of my high school with sagging pants and sagging faces. I see them as I leave for the bus stop, right hands holding cigarettes, left hands draped in their pockets. I don’t stop to wonder what they’re thinking: the divide between us is palpable and, following a strict, unspoken code, we avoid eye contact.
I broke the rules once. As I stood under the bright winter sun waiting for the 97 B-Line, a stream of smoke floated to settle above my friends and me. The smell was the same one engrained into my memory of my grandmother and into the tablecloths we inherited from her after she died of lung cancer. I turned towards the boy and his cigarette.
“Will you please stop smoking upwind of us? Do you know that what we’re breathing in has twice the amount of nicotine as what you are?
All these things will be gone, maybe in a few minutes, a day, a month, a year, decades, or hundreds or thousands of years. The sun will sink into night, the eagle will die, the shell will crumble into sand, the diamonds will fade, the glacier lakes will dry, my friends will pass on, and the hurricane will disperse. They will be gone. Perhaps others will take their places, but it won’t be ever the same again.
However, I’ve seen the burnt and cracked trunk of a lightning-struck cedar covered with heavy moss and Dead man’s beard. I’ve seen the the skeletal, bleached-white trees that will never flower or bud again. I’ve seen the crushed feathery wings of a baby robin in the middle of a parking lot with its body gone. I’ve seen the bloody salmon struggle up the rapids, torn and dying.
Perhaps not everyone would find all these scenes attractive, I see a terrible beauty in them. The struggle that these living things were once subject to breaks my heart a little. The vulnerability and emptiness of these things, gone and broken down by time and accident radiate coldness and bleakness.
To those who have not yet, don’t be shy: Join the conversation! Comment, link to us, and enrich the TALONS learning! And to thosewho have: thank you for supporting, listening and teaching 30 young learners (that total includes my teaching partner and I), who are indebted to you!