Want to hear a strange story? I am a high school Teacher. Yes, a high school Teacher. How? Good question. I am afraid that I lack an answer. This fact is as much a mystery to me as is the nature of existence. I can not figure it out. How did I end up in this position? I am not the right guy for the job. In high school I disdained Teachers. I made them cry or contributed to their high blood pressure. I hated anything academic and the only enjoyment I got out of high school was breaking the rules and the benches on the school playground. My father had to donate a large sum of money to the school so that I could graduate after my fifth year (I know what you are thinking- yes, high school is only supposed to be four years). My grades were so low, that it seemed as if I had tried to fail. The fact of the matter was that I hated high school because I had not a clue why I was there. I was lost or stranded with no idea how or when I would get out. Stuck because other people forced me to do something I did not want to do. I still feel like that sometimes today.
All around me students excelled in high school. I got caught up in weed and booze while my peers seemed to enjoy the perks of studying hard and doing what they where told. I fought with my father on a daily basis and swore that I would burn down my house and my high school on an almost weekly basis. No Teachers took interest in me and I took no interest in them. I floundered through my classes like a fish swimming against the stream. I dreamed of a day when I would be a professional Tennis Player or Performer and gave little attention to the fact that I was on the verge of dropping out of high school.
So how have I ended up where I am? I am confused. Baffled. I believe that everything happens for specific reasons, but still- I, me… am grading papers and teaching students how to write, read and excel academically. This is straight out of the Twilight Zone. I am talking about grammar (which confuses me) and the joys of learning- to a classroom of over thirty students. I issue detentions and demand respect from those who break the rules. Now, don’t get me wrong- there is nothing more that I like than teaching a gang member or a teenager from a poor family about how to become a writer, revolutionary or graduate. Listening to students explain their dreams to me is like sipping a fine wine- I forget about all my problems and listen deeply to theirs. But come on, how has that happened to me?
I have this neighbor. He spends his entire day in his back yard building things and then tearing them down. There is trash everywhere and overgrown tomato plants. Old desks, chairs, book shelves are piled up high on top of one another and sit beneath my bedroom window. He lives off of a government stipend and thinks that the world revolves around his back yard. Sometimes I think that he is senile or the incarnation of Buddha. He does not drink or smoke but he also talks to himself and does not remember anything anyone says. I often see him when I return home from a long day at school. He is usually building a fence or pulling plants out of the ground that he planted the day before. He always asks me the same question and makes the same remarks, “where you coming from?” I say, “work.” “What do you do?” he asks me every time. Frustrated I say once again, “I teach high school.” “You do?” he always says. “I do,” I always reply. “Must be payback,” he says.
Life has a strange way of working itself out. Ever hear that saying “If you wanna make God laugh tell him your plans?” Well, try it. It works. He laughs and turns you into what you never thought you would be. It is strange how this phenomena occurs. Nietzsche referred to it as the eternal return. I think of it more like justice. Divine justice. Pay back for all the Teachers I crippled and wounded, for all the time I wasted, for all I could of been, for all the apathy that I showed up to school with and for all the failed expectations I filled my parents with. Ya, this I can begin to understand. Makes sense when you really think it over. “Payback… it’s a bitch,” my neighbor always says to me as he walks back into his third world yard. And as I stand there waiting for him to say, “have a good night,” like he always does…..everything, even me being a high school Teacher- makes perfect sense.