Photo by Tim Umphreys
When I was a young man, I began searching for the meaning of life. Along the way, I wrote a travel journal, a mix of prose and poetry, and labelled it Fool’s Odyssey.
I was back home in L.A., yet feeling like I had no home. Or worse, no purpose. I finally left the airport. I could see all the way to the mountains, which was rare for L.A., so I decided to just drive. The sky was so pretty. I wanted to drive right on up into it.
But you can’t get there from L.A.
I settled for the mountains, but never got past the foothills. It was Friday morning. I wasn’t sure if it was Good Friday. But it did seem pretty good.
I felt a little like a kid. I understood for the first time ever, I think, that I really didn’t know about “things.” And that made me feel empty inside. But not empty like “dead,” empty like “clean,” you know? Because the good side of not knowing anything, is that you don’t know anything wrong anymore either.
It was as if all this time I’d been running around trying to find some missing part, and all of a sudden I’d realized I was the missing part. And even though I couldn’t do anything about that, just knowing it was a kind of relief. Like that old joke about the fool banging his head against the wall–because it felt so good when he stopped.
I was just driving, not really going anywhere, when I saw this little country school. It’s grounds had the foothills for a backyard, and then just went right on up into the Sierra Madres, without a fence or anything…
Except for the little dead-end road I was on.
Through the scrub oaks and scrawny adolescent fir trees, I could see all these little kids gathered together. Their teacher was talking to them.
Like I said, I felt like a kid myself, and I wanted to know what they (what we) were doing. So I got out of my car and climbed down through the bushes to a spot on the hillside…
Where I could see and hear the teacher.
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