Invocation

If it is a clean-shoe and giggling stroll through the park, on the crispest of days, you’ll always be yearning for fire, desperate for even a flicker. If it is wrapped in satin and bought at the mall, you’ll wonder what the cotton feels like that she made from pieces of her youth and drapes around her shoulders every full moon. If she sums it up with memes and words she never wrote, you’ll remember the maddening covet, propelling you from just a sentence once scribbled on your refrigerator. From the oval pattern of her steps leading to the passenger side of your car, to the song in her sighs, and sage oil in her hair, she is leaving you wishing to be able to explain the phenomenon, whether you are beside her, or watching her twirl under the water below you, 52 feet deep.

I hope that while you lick batter off of your fingers, you momentarily feel as though they are my own, and that the .02-second-moment leaves you mute for the entire day. When you are slipping on your smile-for-the-picture, teeth-baring grin, which you have practiced since the 1st grade, and you’re standing near the entrance of a cafe built in 1943, I hope that the melody to escape the splinter-ridden doors cradles itself onto your skin, and follows you home. You place it into the box of items you don’t have an answer to, a file cabinet, a category, a label for. And you continue to play it, long after you’ve forgotton all names.

She is entrancing you on your living room floor, adoring your heart by way of devotional movement. You wake up and wonder where your mind had to go in order to conjure such gestures. In your waking hours, in the layer of reality just under what can be seen, you spend your time looking out for anything as tantalizing as what you see in your dreams.

I hope she writes you poetry that scares your name out of you–yes. If she doesn’t invoke The Absolute Entirety of Your Heart, she isn’t the one. The Unravelling of The Fabric of All You Think You Know, waking up cooled beneathe branches of spider-webbed new, and dying-sinking trees, on earth men have not paved or trimmed for your ease or your liking, the truth swiftly moves to sit it’s page on your forehead: you have never fallen in love with The Woods, for how could you, if you’ve never set sail to meet her?

In all the tender reasons we fall for people, may The Ability to Fly be one of yours.

I know you like simple, straightforward and logical sequences that fit into an understanding militaristic, routined, and packaged. I know that a psychology textbook brings you momentary relief from the incessant plea for rationale–the ever-liquidating “Live, Laugh, Love” mug you hold in your hands. False Order giving you temporary satisfaction. This is not a homely or agreeable Tale of Good and Evil. Predictability will not  suffice. A torn page in your Book of Being is in tatters on the street, and you’ve tried in vain to make your story meaningful without it. Kept afloat by definitions, you peel away at life vests you’ve been prescribed for too long. You long to be brave, to gaze deeply into the faces you don’t want others to see.

 

 

 

 

Authenticity & Identity Lesson

In my ELL classes we have been talking about words nationality and culture, exploring what they mean to us, having discussions in and outside of class, interweaving stories and perceptions from other people around the world by way of clips, Ted Talks, and reading about perspectives outside of Hawaii. Today’s discussions were exceptionally meaningful. Maybe because we have already been discussing these matters, so the kids have been warming up? I have been learning to ease into projects, and expose them to as much as possible before dropping the project rubric on them.  We watched Ted Talk by Hetain Patel entitled Who am I? Think Again. In his talk he has dancer Yuyu Rau translate for him until he finally joins her in speaking something other than the repeated Mandarin paragraph he “learned by heart” during his visit to China He proceeds by using various accents, emphasizing his many experiences and suits of culture he has tried on for himself, bringing him closer to his own authenticity. Throughout the lesson we looked at the transcript, discussing words like assume, assumption, authentic and authenticity. Other words were gone over and of course each class was differentiated in our explorations, according to who was in class and what questions they had. (I had little to no input in discussions). Here are the highlights:

  • One boy, who is Vietnamese, said he is assumed to be Chinese when he goes to Chinatown with his aunty, and sometimes he will be spoken to in Chinese. He also said in a different part of class that he thinks more people in younger generations have a harder time answering questions about where they’re from or what their culture is.
  • One girl expressed how she wishes she did know more about her culture, often feeling left out in one group, then not completely a part of any single group. Springing from this we talked about what it feels like to not belong, and how there must be so many people in the world who feel this way.
  • In all classes, speaking about the word “assume” surprisingly brought on discussions about what we assume when we meet people, and why we construct those assumptions. The classes came up with clothes, skin color and then of course accent and language being main causes for our assumptions. We started to then go into why these assumptions are made and why they are different for each of us.

I split the class into groups of 3, having one person as recorder, one artist, and one leader. They had a blank white sheet of paper, a computer, and markers. Going through the transcript on the Ted Talk, (which also can be translated, and which was helpful for my Chinese, Korean and Japanese students) they had to record and illustrate all of the things they found that make Hetain who he is, authentically. Collections of visuals, quotes and words were written and drawn on the sheet such as “Born and Raised in England” “Bruce Lee philosophy” and “Indian clothes not COOL” and they each had to share their creations with the class.

Overall this was an interactive way to explore components of culture and discuss ways we’re authentic because of experiences, as well as the small and large pieces that make up our culture and identity.

hetain patel