This week I met:
A guy who was raised like anyone else, in a good home to be a good guy, then joined a punk band then joined the army. He drives a truck and wears an army baseball cap and swears he leans right, but talk to him about peace on Earth and he sounds just like a Democrat. He talks of practical solutions and I ask what’s wrong with idealistic solutions and he pauses then says they’re impractical. I say, practically speaking, how do we solve our ideological problems? By being impractical, one of us says. We can’t help but get wrapped up in semantics and the nitty gritties of issues, losing the forest for the trees, but after awhile of stumbling around we almost got to the root of the discussion (maybe, who knows what the root is) when, like waking up from a dream right before you find the location of that cave with the answers, or waking up right before you kiss that girl, his girlfriend comes out saying she wants to go home, he’s been out here forever, so he goes to take a piss. I tell her we’re out here trying to solve the world’s problems and she laughs uncertainly. We walked back inside and rejoined the conversation on the trials and tribulations of planning a wedding. I learned from them not to get too wrapped up in all the details and nitty gritties of a matter; that’s what wedding planners are for. Funny how similar all conversations can be, despite their disparity.
Andy, who said he hasn’t read a book in three years then talked about how his little sisters made him read Twilight and Harry Potter and other fan favorites, then gave such a complete philosophical summation of the movie Maze Runner that I begged him to read the book, and Plato’s Cave, and other stuff.
A collection of farmers (and sociologists and economists and entrepreneurs and urban planners) in the middle of ghetto Cleveland with a fundamental understanding of the importance of roots, literally and otherwise. They breathe in the air of a fresher tomorrow, leading a cultural revolution from the soil up. They envision a world of a more natural, organic food philosophy, where food is grown down the street from you, where food is a catalyst for change in a community. “If the diet is violent the activities are gonna be violent,” one of them says. “If you’re not the catalyst for change, change won’t occur,” another one quips. They talk of loving yourself to love others, and how loving yourself begins with treating your body and soul right. George Washington Carver is their idol, and they revere the ancients and their hanging gardens and stacked agricultural systems. They believe that where you plant seeds becomes an extension of yourself; everything they say is emblematic. I am astounded by their courage and creativity, looking at the glue in society outside of the traditional lenses, and am already seeing the cultural shift in action.
A professor at a bar watching the Browns game with his kids, who were students, now or previously. I assume they were there to make sure they didn’t lose the family bond amidst the rigidity of pedagogy, but probably just because they all liked the Browns. He wore a “Beer is Food” shirt and shouted, “Someone shoot the guy!” when the Titans quarterback started to go on a roll. When I was introduced we quickly shifted between topics, from living at home to how his dog died a year or three ago, and he said he’s never cried so much in his life. I hear from third parties he’s gone through worse in his day, that his teaching style breathes with freedom and makes the student feel important, equal, inspired to do well, that he’s a great guy to watch a Browns game with. His eyes seemed sad but he wore a smile as enticing as Johnny Manziel. Hoyer ended up winning it for us, take that for what you will. We took the win. Mr. Professor was the most exuberant fan in the joint, as shouts of “Here we go Brownies, here we go!” rained down from somewhere indeterminate. Ok, maybe it was me doing the chanting.
A grizzly old man with a gnarled walking stick who guessed my dog’s age to the month. He said he had to put his down a few months ago at the age of 14; that it was a shame because over the past couple of years they’d walked upwards of 3,000 miles in those parks; that putting him down was the hardest thing he’d ever had to do. I spent half the walk back bummed out, thinking about mortality, replaying Comet’s occasional hesitations hopping the chasm from the ground to the backseat of my car and how he shakes his paws when he gets up after lying down for too long. The second half I spent vowing to take him 4,000 miles. He marched on ahead, carrying an outrageously long stick like always, getting caught in between trees at skinny points of the trail until I caught up and helped him angle his head properly…he’ll learn one of these days. He was probably thinking about ways he could jump in the canal without me stopping him. He jumped in, because there’s really nothing I can do aside from constrain him to a leash, and where’s the fun in that? He knows the most trouble he gets in is suffering through the spray of a hose, but that I’m sure wasn’t on his mind. Maybe we should all just focus on jumping in the canal and worry about the hose when the time comes.