She, with her wings clipped in shackles
Sees the light above the high altar
Through the dusk of leaves and boughs
Beneath the dome of boundless skies
Without spires and stained glass within.
But why else when nature has it all
Sermons in trees, brooks, and skies?
From the haunt of life’s vicissitudes
rests herself under the pillars of trees
As the choristers of hummingbirds begin
The hymns of hope in nature’s cathedral.
Like muffled drums in rains of thunder and lightening, her heart was still beating as the intuitive leap within her was on the verge of falling into the crevice of darkness. She hoped that life would be better or that if life wasn’t unresponsive to her hope, she could seek an elbow room in her writings blog, her glass castle of the soul. In this regard, her purpose of writing and that of George Orwell agreed that it was for sheer egoism of being an individual and recognizing it. For all she had read and seen, her spirit wanted to record it in writing before leaving the world without a trace. How pathetic it would be!
If only. The girl hoped to articulate her thoughts to the unseen public somewhere out there. But above all, the girl used her writing practice as an autodidactic exercise to improve writing skills in the language she fell for. She loved the English language so much that she was ready to forsake the native language if she must choose one. She would have wished to possess the art of English Writing if a benign fairy had asked about what gift she would want. Perhaps she would have made a Mephistolean pact for the craft. Yet her love was alone because she loved the language more than it reciprocated the appreciation to her. How cruel it was!
To pure lead into an open wound, the girl realized her brain was not as alert as it used to be in the locomotive of thinking. As thoughts shape language, she reasoned that a slowly deteriorating neuroplasticity in her brain might have contributed to her difficulty in reading and writing. Something ominous was happening to her, and it was gripping her spirit under its diabolic aegis for the sheer pleasure of tormenting the soul in hopelessness. Words she saw refused to make a coherently complete sentence and enter a faculty of thinking. The circuits to the control center of the brain felt blogged or damaged to the point of making telegraphic phrases swiveling at a vortex of frustration. It had never happened until last year. But why was it happening to her? Alas!
She tried to find reasons for the ghastly maladies and self-diagnosed the following:
- Moving to California
- Demanding nature of her roles and tasks at the workplace
- Attending her elderly mother
- Approaching her end with no security for future
She further decided that the existential frustrations were exhausting her will to essay her creative and experiential values in fulfilling her meaning of life to be expressed in writing. All of it was tantamount to the enormous boulder Sisyphus had to roll up on a steep hill in Hades as punishment for his trickery on gods. But the girl was more akin to a Caryatid, a sculptured female figure used as a pillar supporting an entablature of a building on her head.
But what then was her solution to untangle the web of the menacing spider? She had nothing but her will and resilience born of eruditeness and level-headiness. It helped her sail through some of the difficult adventures between the Scylla and Charybdis in her life’s odyssey. Like an earthling who never gives up hope on getting a signal from an extraterrestrial being via radio transmission, every day, she would write even if it would receive no response. Thereby hangs a tale told by a mad girl in hopeless love with words, full of words and madness, but signifying something.
Life’s meaning is not from distant, lofty examples of public recognition of personal achievements. It can be found in everyday life; however, it may seem trifle or prosaic. For me, I see my mom in her old, invalid self whose back is arched like a bow and her left knee immobile and think she has reached the stage of the Old Woman as presented by Shakespeare’s poetic view of human life composed of Seven Stages of Man. Gone are the days of parental tyranny built on tirades, a rant of frustration, ire of a disappointed expectation, and a delusion of estrangement. Without the queen’s mighty power, she is now approaching the age of oblivion with one foot in the threshold of the last stage of a play called life.
I have recently read Samuel Johnson’s essay on authoritarian parenting. Johnson must have written it out of his childhood experience or observation from others. Johnson follows the Aristotelian definition of parenting as being naturally tyrannical. He admonishes the dysfunctional effects on the child’s mind and body, subject to the illogical rants of inordinate temper and crude ignorance on the part of the parent. To be a good parent requires no occasion for the assistance of high education or social standing of recognition, but unconditional love and understanding springing from the parent’s heart. A good parent encourages, nourishes, and loves the child who will return the jewels of parentship at the Latter Stages of Man. Therefore, it is all over but the shouting that a parent whose intermittent bouts of uncontrolled tantrum inflict pain and exact terror on the child will live in malignity of the disaffected child who mistreats now the old, infirm parent without the presence of love and warmth. What a pity.
Upon reading the essay, I saw the images of a young mom, mature mom, and old mom screened in a phantasmagorial display of the ancient time on a mind’s theater. From childhood until now, mom I have known is lonely, living in her castle where no one would bother or scare her fragile sensitivity that feels too much to confront life’s realities, including parenthood. How I will think of her as a parent is a foregone conclusion not with spite but with sympathy. With her left knee immovable by the osteoporosis combined with calcification in tibial arteries, I now only see an older woman on the verge of extreme pathos about the life she did not like much, among which her regret of not being an ideal mother. Although Johnson had a point in admonishing harsh parentship without love producing revengeful quid pro quo consequences, I cannot turn my shoulders away from my mom, who has none but me to take care of her in this world. I remember Mother Teresa pleading to all of us that charity begins right at home. That’s what I feel when I see my mom asleep like a baby. And thereby hangs a tale.
The Bard must have been punctual like me in doing his business as an actor, a writer, and an entrepreneur, not least because of his perspicuous witty aphorism that “Better three hours too soon than one minute too late.” Yes, the Bard and I are connected, among others, by the number three (3) because when I went to Little Tokyo for Toro’s follow-up appointment with a vet, it was thirty minutes earlier than the appointed time. It seems too pat that gave me a mental jolt, while Toro was trying to get out of a new pet carrying tote I had bought from Amazon. The popular tote failed to serve the purpose of being a portable carriage of the ever Curious Cat preferring his humanoid sister as a moving tall cat tree. In fact, Toro always likes to climb on my back and shoulders, which I wish to be wider and firmer so that he can securely sit on either side of them. My wish was father to the thought unless I saved a fairy who would grant me the wish as a quid pro quo in bona fide.
Since coffee is my morning elixir, I wended my direction toward a nearby Starbucks with the Curious Cat on my right shoulder, making me look curiouser and curiouser. Maybe I should not have gone to the Starbucks but instead to the Seven-Eleven, where they also sold excellent cheap coffee. Or is it just my innately high-strung sensibilities that detect the vibe? Notwithstanding the famous green mermaid’s angelic presence, it was the surprise unwelcome reception at the mermaid’s coffeehouse. My Curious Cat Toro was sitting on my shoulder while I was entering the store, and the two lady barristers looked at us as though they were looking at freaks from a defunct circus closed due to the pandemic. One of them at the register began with a slight grimace: “Miss, you can’t bring a cat here.” I was surprised to hear such an announcement because having seen dogs at other stores; it was more than a mind blow akin to heartbreak. So I remonstrated as softly as possible with my futilely pitiful reference to the dogs at Starbucks stores near my work. Then the other woman who appeared to be senior in staff hierarchy explained: “Dogs are allowed, but not cats. Our district manager is very strict about that. But I will serve you coffee because you seemed to not to know of it.” What a mercy. Yes, I got the coffee, I took Toro to the vet, and at least all was fine. Yet, the incident made me feel sorry about Toro, a de facto discrimination subject, per se.
Thankfully, Toro didn’t know of the episode performed in human language, but my heart sank when I looked at his large green eyes innocently looking into my eyes from a backpack I carried him into. So I showered him with new feather toys and cans of chicken pumpkin soup from a Petco in the afternoon. The district manager’s policy of not allowing cats to enter the premise makes my head swivel in 360 degrees of wonderment. Whether or not such policy is personally motivated under the particular feline nature’s pretext is a mystery, but cats’ exclusion is hard to swallow. Certainly, Toro and his feline kind will be welcome in the coffee houses of Teheran, where their wild ancestors were an integral part of arts and religions. Is that why cats were burned with alleged witches in Europe? No? It makes me couriouser and couriouser.
“I’ll teach you differences,” said King Lear as his motto of philosophical investigations in Shakespeare’s eponymous play. I imagine the ghost of King Lear would utter it again when he deigned to come to our realities of universities in this time. The importance of responsible education to remove the social ills and carbuncles resulting from dissentious political domination has never been more conspicuously called for in our high learning institutions as a recent consequence of the George Floyd incident, and the following the Black Lives Matter movement. However, this doesn’t mean that universities should be a breeding ground for training gladiators equipped with political syllabuses and dogmatic agendas to fight against the public foes. Instead, education should disabuse the ignorance of the unenlightened for our society’s universal betterment.
Professor Benjamin Y. Fong, in his NY Times article “Teaching Racial Justice isn’t Racial Justice,” addressed the issue of education as the fighting tool. It has become fashionable that most American universities have competingly added courses on social injustice to the Black Lives Matter movement. However, the idea of education is to provide students opportunities to learn and actively engage with conflicting thoughts and various real-life issues in a place enriched with knowledge linked with the fellow members of the human race from antiquity. In this environment, a university is a place for education that can improve social conditions in the fight against social, political carbuncles, not for the battle itself, training students for social gladiators.
Many universities are focused on the quantitative quota of educational syllabuses aimed for the universities’ reputations as the most liberal and forward-thinking higher-learning institutions for the socially recognized prestige, not the qualitative aspect of the education of the minds. It is not the textual syllabuses filled with political ideologies and social campaigns. Still, the practical teaching of various conservative and progressive considerations enables students to incorporate the learning to their perspectives. Education serves to articulate ideas based on the standard of reason and taste universal in all human creatures regarding the principles of judgment and sentiment common to all humankind.
Suppose we want our higher learning institutions to remedy the existing ills of our social and political realities by implementing more social justice courses. In that case, we must first understand the fact that education itself is not the fight itself. Neither Plato’s academy nor Aristotle’s lyceum was a place for the battle against the absurdities of Man. Or even the beloved, peripatetic Socrates did not use his open universities in Athens as a place for campaigning against the government hostile to his philosophy. Remember that there is no new thing under the sun as long as we as the collective enterprise called Humanity continue to voyage in the Universe.