© 2020 Drew T. Noll

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Masking a Future Distant

The Distance Among Us — 

Creating distance is as easy as stepping into your own private dream-liner, fully stocked with aspirations on hold for a time not demanded by regular life. The same is true of actually dreaming, in the sense that the life we live over in that world is always on hold for later, sometime in the future of ‘my’ perception of ‘me.’ Like a vacation that has been had, almost, not stacking up, but nevertheless over, a reflection on the past that happened before the last little bit determines the energies to be spent on the next little bit, and into the future. Breathe … it’ll be okay. The masks we all wear protect us from many things, and they isolate us from others. Covering the face can cover the window to our inner-being, while protecting us from the bio-terrors around and unseen. This also prepares us for a launch into the next generation of us. Just like sleeping and dreaming, we store up our energies and breathe in to our souls, just enough, to light up a future that is mostly paramount to none.

Sitting here, eating matzah with matbukha, I’m trying to remember how I felt during the year gone by. The last Pesakh I was in school to learn a new profession, in order to add it all up in the end of a life well spent. But, the end seems to have launched earlier than previously understood, or known. And … now we are all wearing masks and gloves like in an Asian sci-fi, or something. Was that racist to say? Is it even relevant today? It’s so hard to know anymore what is real, what is important, or … what is ‘me,’ with a capital ‘I.’ Do we continue down the path we began, is it even possible, or do we change course and fly into the eye of the squall, and … um … WTF does that even mean?! I mean, IT’S THE DAMN APOCALYPSE, right? (I usually refrain from profanity, but, circumstances oblige…) The whole world seems to agree, that the end is near, and that our pomposity of human dominance on the land is disowned, disheveled, dishonored, and drowned.

Next week I begin to teach, once again. My 9th grade classes have been returned to me, while my 10th languish with others. I miss seeing my students, maybe 150 in total, and my life is on hold like are their lives, and others. During kholamoed I built lessons for distant learning, from the comfort of my studio, where I’ll teach my students English, at least from grade nine. Using my tiny laptop I’ll try, with a window unto the world that is separate, mostly a dream, to build a connection to each of my students, and to tie bonds to our futures. From my studio I’ll try. With the blessing of the Internet, I’ll wear my mask and not complain, from my tiny imprint on our planet … I’ll try. The future is blooming, just on the other side, I can see it, not in a dream, I can see it shine, waver and shine! I can see it learning, I can see it grow, I see that it wants to, and with the help of others, I’ll see it mature, bisrat Hashem, you can be sure.

The beginning

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Freedom is a State of Mind...

Surf Chicken, oil on canvas, DTNoll © 2020 - 
My vacation was cut short by work. I was informed that I would need to cease and desist my online lessons, which did happen for a week, but I was then informed that I would need to continue again. Scrambling to aspire, I rose to it all, completing the additional week of lessons prepared and delivered to hungry minds via my laptop in my studio. With Surf Chicken on the wall behind, I spoke about reading, vocabulary, various grammar points, and did just fine. I had much help from a great staff of great people (teachers are like that, you know), and I smiled a lot while delivering my lectures to more than 150 young minds on the other end of a computer line. Even trapped inside, I have it really good, which I’m never really sure how to gauge, since I’m mostly always beating to a different drum, it seems. Is it okay to say I’m doing okay? Is it offensive to speak about it while others suffer decay? Sometimes I just don’t know what to say, so I don’t.

That is those silences you hear here, when I’m lost in chaos unfolding nothing from naught. Do we all experience such blanks in significant thought? Filling the voids with stories told by others? I loose myself further, quite often, creating more chaos to transcend; but, transcend I do always (thank God). I think of my students trying to grasp it with a world gone mad, and I find that I’m at a loss for words, much of the time—with nothing much said, I look into the horizon that I’m fortunate to see, and I begin again to write ... or paint … or draw. That’s what this is, you know, my process exposed. My legitimate flaw, thawing the life I carry on my shoulders, keeps creeping up and singing along with me. Sometimes it’s an echo, but real nevertheless, and because of my world being small, I struggle with righting it all; so, I don’t.

Or, maybe I do? At least I write it, sometimes. We are supposed to be asking questions right now, anyways. Plague has always been temporary in our histories, with grand out-comings blooming on the other side of seas splitting, on the other side of borders falling, and at the far reaches of our abilities to even understand where we are heading, and possibly … posthumously, where we began. One of my students delivered ice cream to my front door today. He was wearing the requisite facemask and gloves, and we stood miles apart while locking eyes in a knowing embrace. Ort, the school I work for, had contracted with my student’s father to deliver joy to their teachers, in a way that really made my day. Riches abound when least expected, as the mask-covered smiling face at my door attested. The struggle we face collectively is mute when confronted with astounding reality, as we can all endorse from our lives lived; and in the end all we can do is to try and fit an obtuse shoe onto a well-worn foot (at least in our own minds)—in the end, to lay it barely, all we can scarcely muster … is to say: I do.

חג שמח וברכות בצד השני, לכולם!