(There was a glitch in the Matrix because this post was not published yesterday. Hope you enjoy and there will be a new one later.)
Tears slowly creep from the seldom used duct, forced outward by the constant vibration of my laughter. My stomach begins to hurt because my abs are contracting at a rapid pace.
“I loved having the students do this Prezi project,” I tell my colleagues in the famed and oft-speculated Teacher’s Lounge. Prezi is a moving powerpoint presentation that allows its users to include video and sound. Recently, my students finished reading The Outsiders. One of the major themes of the book is society’s affect on one’s individuality. More specifically, we notice how society limits individuality because society classifies individuals as different or weird if they do not fit the societal norm, if they do not conform. Thus, for the their projects, my students had to create a Prezi that demonstrated their individuality; the guiding question was, “Who are you?”
Deep for a sixth grader. Deep for anyone.
“I feel like I know them much more now,” I continue, having a love-fest moment with my students and their work. “Wait, I have to share this poem with you.” I type feverishly on the keyboard, reopening his project, finding my way to his poem.
“Mermaids,” I begin. “Ponys are real. I like to feel the ocean.” The laughter starts to bubble slowly in my stomach. I know the punchline. I love the punchline. And my body reacts to the climax of the joke that I have yet to share with my peers. Why is he giggling has to be my co-worker’s dominant thought as they anxiously wait for their invitation to join in the laughter.
I then turn to the next slide. My abs are contracting at a faster rate. In between suspended chuckles, I read, “This is a poem I wrote when I was angry. The title, ‘Mermaids,’ has nothing to do with the poem but makes it feel magical.” I lose it. I am unable to contain my pent up laughter. I laugh uncontrollably, and my colleagues laugh as well. Smiles fill the room.
The fact that he recognized and wanted to capture that magical feeling for his poem, hence the title, is refreshing. In his anger, he turned to ponys (which is misspelled by the way and adds sincerity) and the ocean for solace. He purposely picked “Mermaids” to express the magic that he somehow captured, as if Ariel from The Little Mermaid resided in his grasps. My eyes are cleansed by those tears of joy, a true appreciation of the innocent and often simpler logic of a child.
What happens to that magic?
Where is our adult magic?
Do we lose it by virtue of living long enough in a society that supports conformity and confronts individuality?
Therefore I ask you, “Who are you?”