Thursday, September 13, 2012

Clamming, teaching, living

It's September, and I'm busy.

For all the clamor and the noise, for the rules and procedures, for the structured universe in a building where the dull hum of fluorescent light replaces the summer sunlight, there remains something very human about caring for a stranger's child.

In a couple of days I will paddle out to a mudflat, and rake up a few dozen clams. A stiff northwest breeze will strip words from my world, and allow me back into the bigger world around us. In a world suffused with artificial light and flavors and relationships, only a privileged few get to dance in the wordless beauty of a tidal flat, where clams sweeter than music await.

I sing a lot in a classroom. I rarely sing on a mudflat. No need to.

Still, the song may be the last vestige of any sense of connection to the world and the Word. Some call it the "real world," seemingly unaware of the irony of the redundancy.

On days I sink ankle-deep into the muck, I have no need to sing.
But on days I find myself trapped indoors, it's the song that keeps me sane.

The kids here me sing, and, confused, they listen. That crazy old man has seen something he wants to share. The world is bigger than all of us.

The heart of the matter comes down to matters of the heart.....


John Spencer said...


I've been pushing Brenna on the swing, noticing just how close she is to not wanting me to do that anymore. She'll be going at it by herself.

The light is dying. Fatherhood is slipping by. I don't feel cheated by this. It's full of life, but like the light, it's falling fast.

I walk back into the house and read a bunch of politically charged nonsense (not because it's political, but because it's about issues rather than people) and then I land on your blog.

And I'm reminded why I still stick around the internet at all.

Mary Ann Reilly said...

pure poetry.
enuf said (and sung)

Lee said...

Your posts about clamming and the mud flats always makes me want to get back into the woods. Haven't been there for almost a year. I miss it.
My little jaunts down the road first thing in the morning with the dogs are what get me through the rest of the day as I sit in front of a computer working at something that doesn't have any real lasting value, once all is said and done.
My desk is near a window though and sometimes I'm lucky enough to see some deer or wild turkeys grazing out there. I can see them everyday and it still gives me a thrill. Go figure.
Your students are blessed that they have someone who cares about them so much, and who will sing to them. If we lose our connection to the "real world", the one outside the brick and mortar we wall ourselves up inside, I think we lose all hope for any kind of meaningful future.

Malcolm said...

i sing nonstop in class. in my current status as a substitute...i get to spread my 'crazy' persona all around the district. kids actually think I am a little nuts. on occasion I am rewarded with a number of "oh i remember that song", but there are too many deaf ears for silly children's songs.

nature is the best sedative alive. give me a knife, a big book, and a forest and i might just stay there.

thanks again, doc doyle.

doyle said...

Dear John,

"I don't feel cheated by this...."

A wonderful worldview--I think that's the essence of happiness, letting go of whatever was never ours anyway.

Living well (which is not the same as living lucratively) matters.

Dear Mary Ann,


Dear Lee,

Thanks for the warm words.

The sad thing is we don't just lose a chance for a meaningful future, we lose a meaningful now.

Dear Malcolm,

"Nature is the best sedative alive."

That we even need to be sedated when we're well fed and well sheltered speaks to our madness. I'm getting all kinds of wisdom in my comments these days. Thanks!

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