Toe the line

5:45/5:38, 69/88. Podcast
The independence theme is still very much in the air, along with the sulfurous residue of too many backyard pyrotechnicians who never outgrew their fascination with things that go boom. The Almanac today reports on several models of independence. Sam Clemens in 1861, striking out for the territories of Bonanza-era Nevada with his brother Orion to report for the Virginia City Terretorial Enterprise and become Mark Twain. Lennon and McCartney in 1957, partnering for the first time; Pasteur in 1885 taking a chance on an untested vaccine; the birth of the present Dalai Lama in 1935; the persecution of Jan Hus in 1415, and Thomas More in 1535.

We want independence, most all of us, from whatever holds us captive: external control, internal timidity, general lassitude. That’s not necessarily the same as wanting complete freedom. We just don’t want anyone else holding the key to our liberation, and we want to know that the key hangs on a familiar hook we can find at will, when we want it. Like Otis in his Mayberry cell.

What holds me captive? No one thing, I’m sure. But one thing for sure. “For a long time I was reporter to a journal, of no very wide circulation, whose editor has never yet seen fit to print the bulk of my contributions, and, as is too common with writers, I got only my labor for my pains. However, in this case my pains were their own reward.” Thoreau wrote that in Walden, and I can relate. I am captivated by the urge to “report,” to “improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick” by translating experience into language, writing and broad(pod)-casting  it, mulling it over. 
I like being a reporter, I don’t want to be sprung from the job. The low circulation of my “journal” is immaterial, the act of translation is indeed its own reward. It helps me in my vocation as a teacher and scholar (though I always just about choke on that word, when I think of some of the pedants and scholars I’ve known).
“Teacher” is a respectable vocation, but that word sometimes hangs me up too (as it did Socrates). Younger Daughter’s just home from New York, with a terrific little gift souvenir: a fridge magnet with the inscription “I’m not a teacher, I’m an Awakener.” Right! Mostly I’m working to awaken myself, dawn after dawn, and keep myself awake. Again, like Henry. Just trying to toe the line between the eternal sleep of past and future.

Up@dawn the podcast is now on iTunes.

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