I learned that my 6th grade English teacher passed away within the past 48 hours. This was a woman who was tough, but fair. She always pushed her students to do their best, yet as they got older, she encouraged them to march to the beat of their own drum. She was best at marching to her own beat in a time that most felt uncomfortable with anyone or anything that was not descended from the same train of thought that they were.
One thing I did learn was that she expected to hear our own voices when we wrote–not a rehashing of what someone else spent months and years pounding into our heads. There are days I simply want to scream, “This is who I am!” knowing that very few accept my not-so-conventional train of thought (and probably never will). I do not know that she ever experienced this depth of feeling so alone at times, but I know I experienced it for most of my life.
Death has been a constant companion to me. It is neither male nor female, and yet it’s presence seems to invade my space and that peace I have as of late. It is a part of my life, having been touched by it many times in my youth, and damned near experiencing it myself twice. I won’t go into the details of it, but I know what it is to come very close to experiencing that endlessness that everyone seems to fear with so much dread.
I don’t fear it though. Why bother fearing it when it touches us all more than we realize? If anything, it is what we leave behind that we should fear. It is the failing of saying “I love you.” to those closest to us each day that should have us reeling in repentance for neglecting to realize that they DO need to hear those three words from time to time.
It is our failing as human beings to do what we know to do that is right even when nobody is watching us that we should fear. It is the children and grandchildren that will learn what it is to inherit a lack of integrity as a result.
It is our non-acceptance of others regardless of how different they are from us that we should grovel in tears over, because our children and our grandchildren will learn what it is to be a bigot if we fail to realize our own stupidity with respect to this issue.
It is our unwillingness to give selflessly of ourselves to others we should show some remorse over, for our children and our grandchildren will learn what it is to be self-centered from that alone.
It is our willingness to dash one another in thought and tongue from our presence (since it is not legal to kill them) that we should weep over because if we are willing to force our wills upon someone else rather than take them as they are or banish them that teaches our children that hatred is a good thing–as well as power.
There is power in hatred. From hatred springs every evil known to man–murder, destruction, wars and sometimes pestilence. Anyone who disagrees should look at how there have been many advantages given to Death to do its deeds with each successive conflict in History–and we won’t even discuss periods of time when hundreds of thousands of people to millions of them were slaughtered.
Sometimes when I cry, it is because although I know Death is a constant companion in life and to life, I have joy for it does not dominate me. Death in and of itself is a release from the bonds of our own nature it seems. However, if we are not concerned about the tracks we leave behind in our trail for those to follow, then we have lost all consciousness of who we are and what we should strive to become throughout our days. Does that make sense? If it doesn’t, then reflect on it a while. How should we WANT to be remembered? I know how I remember my teacher and several others that have passed before her would answer that question.
Sometimes when I cry, I remember that they gave me a torch to carry and to pass on to my grandchildren–and I will do so–regardless of what others may think. We should never fear those we don’t answer to–but we should fear what we leave behind for our descendants to answer for in our behalf, I think. For what we leave in our own tracks, we are accountable because it is the future generations that will always pay for our own stupidity in spades in the end.
Yes, we should follow our own drum–but we shouldn’t sentence our descendants to follow the drum others make for them. Sometimes when I cry, I fear that they will not know what to follow because they are pushed so hard to be like “everyone else” and not themselves now–or so it seems.