Thursday, April 24, 2008


I saw the Law of Octaves gleaming in his little eyes. When we first began at the kitchen table, he was smiling and happy to work on math problems; his tiny fingers, only a couple inches long, could barely grip the over sized pencil he begged to use. 1 plus three plus seven equals what? I asked. For the first twenty minutes, he hungrily added the numerals, writing the answers in an over sized script. But soon, while we were only partway through the second page in his workbook, he hit the first interval. His little head began to sag. His already thin eyes got even smaller. He looked up and asked, in the most innocent and hopeful voice "Can we do math from that other book?" He sounded more energized as he asked, his head raised and eyes wide. We could move on, he suggested, onto another work book which had new pictures and different word problems.
I recognized his impulse, already a habit in the young boy. And I felt it within myself. It seems so benign. There are other math problems in the other book, what could be the harm? It’s important to keep him interested. It’s important to be nice! For a flicker of a second, I felt my old self smile, excited by the invitation. The compulsive one who starts a thousand projects but never completes them. The restless girl hungry for excitement and the thrilling "new". The self who is excited by fresh ideas and tasks but quickly becomes frustrated and bored, giving up quickly to start something else.
As soon as the machine hits resistance, as soon as we hit the first interval, we descend, quickly falling away from the intended goal.
NO, I would not allow this boy to give up...even if he will be deviated in every other task for the rest of his life. This time, with me, he will finish the math problems. With his little head resting on his arm, looking only half conscious, I forced him to finish the work page. We would not stop halfway through, no matter how boring. For a flicker of a second, as he looked expectantly, wanting to start working on the second math book, my surface emotions felt for him, this little sweet boy…I wanted to make him happy, so yes, let’s move on, let’s do something more fun.
But an instant later, my teachings were remembered, the realization that WE must push through…the intervals will present themselves again with the next book, and the one after that…until we are birthed again and repeat this once more….and then again. NO, there is no time to let this Being give up, to let his machine dictate our path…his happiness is as fluttering as a dove’s feather, as fluid as my emotions. We must move through this Octave, NOW.

No comments: