Today, my brother sent his usual Thursday musings to me by e-mail. He used to be a gospel evangelist and musician, but now he's more of an inspirational speaker, writer, and music producer, well respected after years of grueling travel and even more grueling deprivations that come with living in the cold fire of career independence. Although I think he still rejects the idea, he and I were born of the same blood, as were our brothers, all of whom took their own quite interesting, volatile walks through the world of people who observe our kind with disdain even as they watch our showmanship with envy.
In my brother's message, he wrote that he had done well in front of a Wisconsin audience the other night. He seemed equally proud and amazed that, even at his age, he could still press his talents in the service of bettering the lives of a crowd of strangers.
He told me that he wanted as much for me and asked if I could do what he does, so I am using this forum to answer him. I do so here because this is where, for a long time, I have put some of my stronger talents on show to no material success in changing the world.
Dear Brother and Fellow Traveler:
As the song, "Turn the Page," puts it: "Out there in the spotlight, you're a million miles away/ev'ry ounce of energy, you try to give away..."
I am a teacher. My career is in its nightfall: technological substitutes for masterful teaching are winning the day; hence, I am driven into the night, alternately fancying my life behind me a rock star's self-narrative and an incomprehensibly long run of brilliant lectures and students elevating to scholarship and civilized reasoning.
Here's my secret, good brother. When I walk into a room full of students, I imagine that I am bringing with me a lake. I set it in front of the students, and then I walk across it. Many have been my superiors who have diminished my career, my reputation, even my aspirations because of this overarching arrogance I parade in crafted defiance of my betters.
Few have been my academic fans. Far more have been my students who will never forget me.
On balance, this choice of how to live my life has not been good: I will die and go to Hell, and the music of life will skip not a single beat for my life or its passing.
Sometimes, though, resignation to failure is the assurance of victory.
The good news is this: I shall live awhile longer, which means I will remain for that while an annoyance to those better than I could ever be.
Weyou and Iare out there in the spotlight, which is where we were made to be. It might not be the brightest light we could have had, but it sure keeps the nightfall at bay, doesn't it?
Be well, brother.
Be well, good readers. Very soon, I shall return to publishing articles.