Do What You Want, Have Fun


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The things that are worth caring about and striving for don’t have to do with fads or whatever happens to be the current topic of conversation. Those constructs are largely illusory anyway. Most of the buzz on the street is no more than traffic noise.

 

George Orwell defined journalism as “writing something that somebody doesn’t want to see printed. All the rest is public relations.” Most of the messages we see are advertising, calls to shop. If we don’t want to fill our time with shopping, we’ll have to find something else with which to occupy ourselves. As you can see, I’ve gone to great lengths not to end that last sentence with a conjunction.

 

I enjoy writing both because I think I’m pretty good at it, and because I think I have something to say. Many people find writing a tedious activity and have little to say. I’m always happy when these people don’t write. After years of reading English Composition essays at the college level, I think there is no more tortuous activity that reading a commenting on the writing of someone who didn’t want to write in the first place.

 

One of the biggest disservices schooling provides is to demand that people learn to do things for which they have even less aptitude than interest. Even if they do manage to struggle through some required course work, they will never have any fun doing so, nor will anyone else enjoy the outcome. It will be purgatory on Earth, hoping for a payoff in the Great Beyond. This is folly, a transparent hoax, a confidence game to justify the existence of schools.

 

People should do things they enjoy, and in doing so they might please both themselves and others. Why this simple concept has eluded us for the last couple of centuries is a real mystery. The notion of mandatory public schooling probably comes from Northern European capitalism and the desire to train a compliant workforce.

 

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Walking to Work (yet again)


I’ve been walking to school for fifty-six years. I started the process in 1956, when I walked to kindergarten in Flossmoor, Illinois. Then I walked to school in Philadelphia, South Dakota, St. Louis, rode a bike to school in Columbia, Missouri and Iowa City, Iowa, took a break from school for ten years in San Francisco, but then the school addiction kicked in again, this time as a teacher, and I rode a motorcycle to San Francisco State, went back to Iowa for the longest stretch of all, then on to Thailand, and now Dubai. For somebody who keeps posting rants against education, I sure have spent a lot of time in school.

My latest walk to school is quite different than the others I’ve enjoyed. Here, on the edge of the city, it’s pure desert. Our apartment building is right across from the school. There’s nothing else out here. Most of the apartment buildings are empty, though some have been completed for years.

 

 

 

There’s a stray cat that lives in some refuse that’s settled along the outer wall of our building. It seems comfortably housed and I suppose it somehow gets enough to eat and drink. I said “hello” to it this morning and it meowed back.