An allegory

I’m going to try, it’s on 9:18 p.m. and tomorrow I’m prepared to give a presentation to Psy class, near immediately after class begins at 9:30 a.m., just over twelve hours. Interestingly, Chapter 5 begins with a story about a man in a medical induced coma, on a ventilator with Covid. I can step that story up a bit- and even have a video to show how another story ended the same way, and with numerous physical issues, and a fun little brain issue too.

The key of course, will be to show the video and give my introduction, present the entire material, and pull myself in a case study to detail some of the contents of the chapter. If nothing else, it will present a marker in time to differentiate my presentation from the prior two thirds. Not knowing the presentation skill of my group mates- and yet still unknown if the two absent group members will appear and hope to participate. Having read my material repeated now, the first time online and now a second and a third time directly from a paper book, I feel quite comfortable with the idea of going ad lib on the topic, with hopefully just a few glances at my notes to keep me on track and on time.

Unlike this morning. Don’t get me wrong, today worked out great, and I was not late. However, I skipped breakfast again. I rolled an extra time or two and was quite sore this morning, and by time I got out of the shower, dressed and downstairs it was nearly 9:20. I suppose, I could have used the ten minutes to eat breakfast. Rather, I was too sore, sat down and tried to decide how much pot I could smoke versus how much I wanted my leg twitching in class versus how hungry I would become over the duration of a 90 minute class.

Somehow, still leaving behind at 9:34 and taking Cooper to the highway to Floyd, I arrived at the edge of my margin and hurried as I walked to McDivitt Hall, into the building, up the steps, down the hall turning the corner to see twenty students standing outside of room 218. Few seats available, half were standing or sitting on the floor. I saw a row of three attached chairs with a young woman sitting in the middle seat. Walking towards one end, I asked if she minded if I joined her. Replying quickly, “No, not at all”, she stood and moved to the other end seat while I took off my messenger bag and turned to sit myself.

Surveying the room, my bench mate was par for the course- 19 of 20 students were on their phones, scrolling and tapping away the opportunity to meet their classmates. This is Rome I suppose, so I pulled out my phone and began to scroll myself. In a few seconds, I looked up again, two other standing near the intersection of the halls had put away their phones and began to talk to each other. A new comer to the group found a spot on the wall opposite of me near a friend and began to converse lightly.

I put away my phone, and turning towards my bench mate, I asked, Do you think it’s normal in a group of twenty people that nearly everyone is on their phone? I could see the moment that the question struck her and she said “In this day and age, yes” as she turned to look at me in her reply. Taking the moment, I outstretched my hand and introduced myself: Hello, my name is Jeromy.

Brooke is a second year student with a daily drive time coming up from south of the County each day. Her second college experience, as the first in the ‘Zoo’ was a bit much for more of (with a bit of imagination,) a self-described small town girl. Interested to learn more about another person, I had responded that I was familiar with growing up in a small town- in fact my high school football team used to play her school- and that I had also so far found a comfort in the Jackson College experience.

Knowing already our teacher was human, this moment she appeared and ended the conversation with my bench mate. Would my time have been better served by scrolling my phone? Is it not better to take a moment and learn something that you may never have another opportunity to learn? Personally, I’m rather glad I have now had another, even if small, glimpse into another person.

Greeting Holly as I entered seemed to be well received (that would be the teacher,) as I found my way across the front of the room and up the few rows to my seat. Class started well with a discussion of our previous submitted music listening assignment. Doing what I could to spur a conversation, I was quick to speak into the void when the class was asked for our opinions. A long holiday weekend and an ‘early’ ten am class did not seem to provoke abundant conversation, and the teacher’s softly spoken prompts did not seem to help.

A few more bits of my own thoughts played out, as the teacher and I played our comments against the class to pull out more conversation on the assignment. Next, we counted off to split into three group to work on a number of questions about one of three greek artifacts. My group was able to study the Discobolus, the statue of a naked man throwing a discus by Myron. Aware of the statue in the vaguest sense, I was also looking forward to the group activity rather than more lecture. Down the steps, across the front and up the second row on the other side, I joined my group.

With a good initial small group discussion, we all turned to our laptops to produce the answers to the listed questions. When was it made, why, by who? What did it mean, how was it used? How was it seen in its own time? How is it seen now? Several others perhaps too.

Shall I repeat the details of a classroom assignment? Or, shall I mention a conversation with the teacher after our group had completed and were occupying ourselves with idle chatter. First, my response into a pre-existing conversation and the teachers reply to me. Obviously an educated and well thought person, I had shared my recent fondness for the arts. From there, for perhaps two minutes, we discussed a stem versus arts state of mind, ending with my reflection of the circularity of the arts and science.

A puzzled look on her face, I went to describe the pianist I saw on AGT last night, a pure and simple expert in her field (I hope that girl wins!) Common among musical geniuses, if you ask them, is the commonality of the errors and imperfections in their work. Record them, play it back for them, and they may undergo a very scientific analysis of there errors, the specific causes and hypothetical solutions.

Conversely, scientists at the top of their fields currently debate the beauty and simplicity of string theory- rather subjective terms for a theory commonly referred to as unprovable. Yet, once study is over and research is exhausted, a scientist has not even answered their own questions completely about how the world works and at the end of there careers are left spouting their opinions of what may be found next.

Does art become science? Does science become art? Is this the yin and yang represented by the duality of the human experience?

Shall my life work be determined by what I feel? May I create art in my words that communicate good ideas to a wide range of people?

Shall my life work be determined by what I think? Is there even a difference? So quick we are to separate the two, yet can it even be so? How do we separate our thoughts from our feelings on any topic or idea? So intertwined, I think many people sacrifice one for the other. Even internally, co-existence of disparate thoughts and feelings is difficult, yet not impossible.

In hindsight, I can think of many, many past situations that I often handled primarily in thought or feeling, as if the exclusion of one or the other was more beneficial for some tasks, whether they were at work, with clients, coworkers, family, others, etc…. Rather, how confusing the world is that way, as if I was walking through my prior life with one eye or the other closed the whole time. More often confused if I opened them both fully, I never spent the time to learn how they each could be focused to not only not interfere with each other, rather to complement each other. An added perspective of depth, enables a more full vision of the world and others around us. Always best to give our whole two cents in a conversation now, I think.

Glad I started early, only 10:24 and I’m already past 1500. After class, I returned to my original seat to gather my things and was the last out. Conversing more with the teacher, she followed me out to lock the door and began to walk with me down the same hall as we continued. She thanked me and welcomed more my participation in class, and I expressed my willingness to the point of provoking the conversation of others. As we walked, I explained some of my past experiences as an instructor and my appreciation of her attempts to pull whole class into meaningful discussions.

By the time she paced me down the steps, I inferred the conversation on her part was intentional, as an escort all the way out of building would appear rare in my limited college experience. By time we made it to the parking lot, I shared for the benefit of our discussion the source of some of my newfound perspectives, my rTPJ damage and some of the experiences brought on by them. She as a mother of two and a bonus child, was interested when I shared the perspective of a twelve month old without an operable Theory of Mind.

I can remember how that feels, I think being aware of how it feels, I can now both detect the necessity and response of it. Almost triggering the same feeling of complete openness to feelings and thoughts outside of myself. The experiential experience of listen to some peoples stories. We parted ways as we approached the parking lot and bid each other well.

I rushed home to eat. Got my, replied to a message from my friend that I was now home (she mentioned needing a printer, brought a laptop, but did not print…) if she still wanted to stop by. Very nice to have a visitor for lunch and an afternoon smoke. Refusing to eat herself, I did my best to slow the process of inhaling three grilled cheese sandwiches. Conversation and discussion of hostas. Off to pick up her son from school and proceed before too long, yet not before I was able to learn a lot more about her.

With a half hour to spare before I needed to go back for my second class, I took the time to read the Allegory of the Cave by Plato. No, not randomly, this was our Humanities assignment for the week. Quite an interesting piece, obviously to have survived the test of time to bring it into a college assignment today, I was glad I took the time to read it. More ideas to assimilate into previous knowledge, more learning.

How much can I write? Then I went English, another good class. Then I went home, relaxed for a while, then wrote my forum response (a 30 point grade,) for the allegory assignment. Again so interested, I hope I did not over write. For five or six questions, my document ended with fifteen hundred words. We’ll see if any classmates choose to read and respond in kind reflection of my reflection. Spontaneously, perhaps not, yet we are each to reply to two other students, with even distribution I may be critiqued.

Oh, back to Humanities class. Not gonna miss this. In the group discussion, I had asked our group for their thoughts on the physique of the discus thrower. In our times I said, it would be held up as ideal, a ‘perfected’ image of the male form, memorialized in muscular tension prepared to exult himself in competitive sport. I asked, in the times it was made- roughly 2500 years ago in Ancient Greece- was the form stylized? Or was this the typical discus thrower or citizen of the day. Was this detail worth mentioning? Probably not, other than to set up the next lines.

A young lady in the row in front of me said coyly, yet directly, and loud enough for me to hear, directed at the group, as she a bit more than micro turned, maybe a quarter turn in my direction, “I don’t know… I kinda like a dad bod.”

Please take for granted that I’m speaking way more into this than may have been inferred, yet knowing it will go no farther than my own mind, it felt great to presume that this was direct comment to my bod displayed as I walked over and first joined the group. Maybe I’m not too old to have a good time at college? Ha, I kid. SMH. Now, I wonder, with the same past opportunities would I return to past habits, or rather, am I currently learning that I’m capable of a whole new set of desires to match the my new perspectives on life and others?

Okay, then I was home, made the forum post, and off to Robins Roost for my first week back to my pool league. It’s been two years. A couple beers, a couple games of pool, and ended up smoking a couple joints on the sidewalk of West Ave. Times have changed.

How truly different will the next thirty years be compared to the last thirty? This weekend, the next book… Coming soon. Now, 11:08, time to get to sleep, set the alarm a bit earlier and make sure I have time to at least grab breakfast on my way. Also, a final awesome email from the financial aid office. My student loan has been approved, $4750. Now- to set a proper budget, I can only blow this by my own hand.

Time to rest.


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