Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sleepy Saturday's Eve

I'm enjoying a slow, sedated, sunsetting evening. I spent all day in school watching a new teacher inservice that had such a nominal effect on me intellectually and spiritually and rationally that I can't even muster a comment.

I sit here now in my little home listening to Neil Young, Loretta Lynn, Leo Kottke and the Louvin Brothers. Sleepy twanging tones of the fading elders of American music slowly lull me into a trance. I miss America. I miss the smell of cut grass and barbeque's. I miss the crack of a baseball bat and the twittering of continental song birds in the morning. The snow birds sound similar but foreign here to me. I miss fireworks and the Shriners weaving back an forth on skooters across the pavement during a parade on mainstreet in Anytown, USA. I miss the burn of ice cold Coca-Cola on a hot afternoon. I miss staring up at the stars through the tops of green needled trees in my parents yard, our land. I love so many things about this bizarre arctic Eskimo world, but this is not the America I've ever known. This is a different world, and it is not my own. This will never be my land.

I peeked my head into a town meeting in the gym today. The town corporation was having their annual meeting. I've never seen so many Mekoryuk residents in force intently concentrated on a serious matter. I was fascinated and blown away. A scraggily man that I've never seen on the island approached me, drew close into my personal space, and asked me very stearnly who I was. I said simply I was a teacher.

He returned "This is a shareholders meeting."

I immediately got an eerie felling that I wasn't welcome. Even though it was a meeting about money, my community and the grocery business that runs everything (that I have a random vast knowledge about and could be of use) I was totally and completely and outsider. It just hit home. I don't belong here. Ralph the maintenance man is marrying one of our white teachers this summer and commented that even after ten years of marriage she may never be a shareholder. This is not my land. I know that now and it shattered a great divide in my heart.

I just feel like so much has happened since August. Spring is supposed to be a time of change, and birth, and cleaning house and new fresh starts. But spring for an educator in the arctic, an outsider, is a time of reflection like that of the fall in the white man's world of the lower 48. I can't stop thinking about how many unknowns and possibilities and opportunities there were in August. Now after only one year, of intense reflection and desperation trying to comprehend this foreign world all I have to show is the simple, humble, modest realization that these people don't want or need me here. How do you come back to that? How do you return in the face of all that we've been through.

Maybe its the fact that I know the futility of it all. It like a firefighter that runs into a burning building even though everyone else is running out. If you can only get in and find the helpless child hiding under their bed on the 34th floor and also make it out with out losing your life. I get so scared that this experience will change me too far, stretch me too much and leave me worn out like a Vietnam Veteran or a recovered heroine addict.

I have so much love to give, so much sharing and learning to do and no matter how much positivity I seem to put into the equation the only product I get is a sad picture of the last dying people of the old way. Sometimes at night the cold reality of the hopelessness of it all keeps me awake. I think its so dangerous to dip my toe in this water. But I need to test it so that I can feel the temperature of living a life defined by accepting the chaotic hopelessness of humanity. Its a real feeling. Its a moment I don't like to live. But possibly, its a moment I need. I need to feel the complete tragedy of it all so that I can once again, rise from the bottom, broken down to my elements to start the cycle again.

The cycle of Hope. The cycle of believing in good again. The cycle of faith in the minute possibility that life means something in spite of all my logical, rational observations and deductions about the pointlessness of life. Even though every sign, everything I have experienced seems to scientifically point to the fact that nothing we've done, are doing or will ever do means anything at all, I still, illogically press on believing in goodness, hope, meaning, dreams and love. This is what defines the darker sides of Radiating Warmth. People want to know where faith lies in a person who doesn't believe in God. Well, the faith basically boils down to the fact that despite and endless string of evidence pointing toward the nothingness void of life around us, I still choose to live and love and make everyday count for myself and for what I can do for others. I search for so that I can ignore the why to survive.

Please don't give up out there. Please don't let me give up. Please, please, please don't forget about your heart.

I love you all so much goodnight and have a restful, reflective Sunday with those you love. I know I will be thinking of those people tomorrow.


hdt said...

It can be quite saddening to think that nothing you've done has meant something. But can you make that statement for sure? What about years later or the very small ways we impact people, subtley and slowly? I get this feeling a lot during subbing. But then a spark will glow and I see that somewhere deep inside I have reached someone. It usually is the people you least expect. Maybe you'll never see that, maybe you'll never feel like you belong. But you're focusing on the ends, not the journey. Don't worry, you've impacted many of us from the far corners of the earth.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kale,
You express your feelings so well. I think you speak volumes about what many of us here feel. At times I can feel so hopeless and lonely and I think signing my contract to come back was a bad decision. I miss so much about the small town I was raised in. I miss having people know I'm a good person without constantly feeling like I have to prove it. I miss friends and Friday nights and baseball games and road trips.
But maybe living out here is not about what we can give to these people, but what they can give to us. We realize what we used to take for granted and we have learned how to be better educators and human beings. We now know how it feels to be the odd man out.
At times this experience can be horribly lonely, but right now I don't think its about what we're giving out. Its about what we're taking in.
AND if all else fails in 4 weeks we're outta here!

Dirk Martin said...

Dude, that is deep stuff. I hear what your saying though. Sometimes, I wonder if the kids even take anything away from my verbal onslaught of knowledge everyday. They don't seem to give a crap, but it's impossible not to have an impact , and I would like to think a positive one. I feel that the impact we have on the adult population in the village is even harder to guage, but it's gotta be there. You will be staring at stars in your parent's back yard in no time my friend. And you've got to remember that your experience next year will be hugely different and much improved in many ways. keep on keepin' on!

Mr. Broz said...

Hey man,
Part of being an outsider is making all the missteps on your way in. Each mistake or rebuff you encounter will allow you the opportunity to either explore why it was a mistake, or it if was something superfluous laugh it off. Whenever I've dealt with a rebuff, generally not with whoever rebuffed me, but with some else who would have more knowledge of the situation. These periods of vulnerablity generally allow for relationships to strengthen with whomever you have the discussion with. Just throwing some stuff out there.

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