Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Whisky Diaries - day 6

I taught Phuong how to ride a bicycle today. She’d never been on a bike before at all and I thought that was something very embarrassing and silly, and something that needed to be addressed. So we addressed it. I think it took about half an hour of guidance until I was happy with her progress enough (read: she could go for a bit and then stop without smashing her face open) to mosey on over to the grass and read while she did laps along the straightest section of road we could find on the island. 
As I sat on that grass, in the shade just before the sand of the beach began, I thought of the last time I really taught someone to do something. It was about two years ago when a twenty-something year old Thai immigrant friend of mine confessed to me that she couldn’t swim. She was raised in a village far from the ocean and had simply never learned. It struck me as quite dangerous, and my family home in Brisbane has a pool, so I agreed to give her lessons. In return for lamingtons, if my memory serves me correctly. It took two weekend sessions until she had all the basics to be able to teach herself the rest in the slow lane of the public pool and she was ecstatic. I’m given to understand she’s even an avid swimmer these days. 
But anyways, my point is, I began thinking about what you get for yourself when you teach somebody else something. It is occurring to me that there might be some actual reason people have children or become teachers or pursue any profession in which children small monsters are involved. Maybe. Although I do think older pupils (surely?) must make for less painful lessons. And as I sat there looking at the ocean and thinking about how deep it is, I decided that I wouldn’t worry about what I left of myself in this world after I died. I will not have children in order to remain unforgotten, or to create some kind of extension of myself. It seems equally as absurd as wanting to be buried and have a tombstone, except even more selfish. I will not force myself or my works into any kind of permanence unless it is requested by someone else. What I see on this planet around me is far more remarkable than anything I might be able to scar its surface with. This ocean and these jungles and this shaggy dog. I don’t want to change them at all! I want to teach somebody how to bike ride around and appreciate it all. I want to help someone be able to swim in this beautiful ocean. To heighten the human experience in these ways, that they might be more able to engage in all this remarkableness. I think I might try to just teach people more things more often. Real things. Like how to swim and how to ride a bicycle. These are important things. If I could teach somebody how to read some day, or even how to write, then perhaps I could happily feel like I had made some kind of really great permanent mark on the world.
In other news, this afternoon I really got stuck into The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and I'm on page 111, which is about one sixth of the way through. In my passionate hatred/distrust of blurbs, I did not read the back cover and so far, I still have absolutely no idea what the whole book acutally going to be about. Murakami is so great though - he's gifted me with so many memorable literary experiences that he deserves my trust on this matter. If I still don't know what's going on at page 300 then I'll be a little concerned, but for now I'm just enjoying the writing and the characters and how abstract and kooky it all is. I'm un-learning that reliance on plot we find ourselves stuck in as readers sometimes. It's nice. And a perfect task for hammock times.

1 comment:

  1. Teaching is really rewarding and is like a never-ending gift. Poignant post.

    Thanks for sharing.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...