Monday, May 3, 2010

About face....

Inside, under a human-made roof, lit with human-made energy efficient fluorescent bulbs, listening to a human-made tune through my human-made laptop, cozy with heat generated from a human-made furnace, drinking human-made ale in a human-made pint glass, I am absolutely petrified of dying.

Even worse, because it is so permanent, I fear death.

Once I get my butt outside, I no longer fear death. (I still fear dying--I spent years watching a very creative god figure out myriad ways to dispatch his toys.)

The more human I become, the more fearful. Words trap us.

So I did something drastic. I quit Facebook.

I used to watch my dying father watch television. He enjoyed it, as I do, and he could watch it for hours, as I could.

He died anyway.

The biggest mistake I can make teaching science is convincing children that this whole thisness is in any way manageable. It's not, nor will it ever be.

I have never regretted being outside. I have been frightened out of my skin as lightning rises from the ground no more than 10 yards away, or as some night critter ambles past me as I dare piss under the moonlight at 4 AM, or when caught in a riptide that threatens to carry me back to the land of my ancestors.

Pure, adrenaline-soaked, black-out fear beats the snot out of the day to day impending nameless dread I occasionally feel when inside.

I teach science so I can share what (little) I know about the universe. I suspect science is mandatory in high school because folks in power believe the opposite, that through science we will conquer disease and death, and maybe get whiter teeth in the process.

I want to continue to improve as a science teacher, focusing on the natural world beyond the human world.

So I did something drastic. I stopped tweeting.

I took my AP class outside two weeks ago. I had the students "randomly" map out square meter plots, and describe everything alive they could find within their assigned plots.

Within each square meter lay an unseen universe. Ants and clovers and grubs and "baby trees" and tiny yellow "hoppy thingies" and bees and plantain and worms and dandelions and grass. My lambs were surprised, as I am every time I bother to look.

I need more time to look. I left Everything2.

My students will all leave digital footprints in their lifetimes. If I have any influence, they will be aware of their virtual footprints as well.

This past weekend I saw an osprey carrying a small bluefish in its talons, the fish carried headfirst, perhaps dead, perhaps not. I saw a seal and some dolphins. I grasped a razor clam and felt its desperation as it tried to pull itself back into its watery home. I saw glossy ibises feeding in a vernal pond.

Even now I am distracted by a male mosquito, his voluminous feathery antennae searching for the right frequency (Kenneth?) as it walks across an envelope stamped with Google on my desk. I love Google as a drunk loves his hooch, and it is about as healthy.

I've used up more years than I have left. No more Delicious. I am full.

The mosquito antennae were mounted by a Victorian entomologist, lovingly
preserved by Howard Lynk. I'd love to buy him a pint.

And yes, writing a blog makes me a hypocrite--consider it a disease, a personal failing, a weakness, a whatever.


gail said...

Sounds pretty zen-like. Think you'll make it after all.

Sue VanHattum said...

>And yes, writing a blog makes me a hypocrite--consider it a disease, a personal failing, a weakness, a whatever.

Oh, stop! You're a poet, and this is how you publish.

Thank you for a lovely sermon. I think I'll go clean out my chicken coop now. Thanks for the reminder to get out there. (Yep, I do enjoy cleaning out my chicken coop.) I was playing with photo booth...

John Spencer said...

I think a blog is very different from other "social media." I quit Facebook and now I'm thinking of quitting Twitter. I'll keep blogging, though, because a blog really is different. A blog is what forces me to "publish" what would normally go into a journal. I need to be pushed into being a little more extroverted.

momomom said...

Did you really twitter?

Books are not so ephemeral, e2 and blogs are not either. There is value in your words.

But yeah, twitter? hahaha

Kelly said...

Please keep blogging - I would miss your voice. I agree with John - the social media is just that - a light cocktail party chatter that's distracting. I'm becoming more aware of the time I have spent on Twitter, etc.; a lot of why I started it isn't valid anymore, and I just get annoyed with all of the negativity. And, I don't want my sons to picture me with my neck at a permanent 45 degree angle.

My and my husband's initial instincts about social media were right, and I am only sorry I didn't take heed. The social media for me, is a way to share a joke, or some interesting news that otherwise I wouldn't. But that's all it should be --chatter over the fence and wash lines.

But - please keep writing.

John Spencer said...

I've been stealing your "if you touch that, you will die" phrase. It's led to some great conversations.

Anonymous said...

Great blog... thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm pleased you found my website interesting, and I'll take a rain check on the pint! Howard

lucychili said...

lovely image

same dread of exclusively human contexts
i remember finding hope
when i was a child in a bathroom
when i saw that even there in
that chrome glass tiled box
dust was softly reclaiming the edges

the soft pink hands of the
crocus are gone
as if they were never there

best wishes

Kathryn J said...

I am grateful that you kept blogging. This blog is important to me because of the science, the teaching, the ocean, the bay, and your writing - definitely not in that order. I hope to blog again soon but for now I choose sleeping.

I've played with Twitter and Delicious - some value but they didn't stick. Facebook I've kept but I don't play games or do quizzes - friends and family hang out there; FB keeps me in touch with friends in Sweden, Luxembourg, as well as across the US with whom I would ordinarily just exchange cards around Solstice time.

That all said - I need to be outside more. I'll take another lesson from you on this one!