It was now halfway through the month of January 2021. Knowing that next week ended semester two, and therefor would be the end of my tenure at the school, there was one more lesson I wanted to share with my students before we ran out of time. This was a lesson I was looking forward to teaching for quite a while…
“Did you all have time to read the short story and write your reflections?” I said to start our Friday class, “I’ll leave it on the board for us to discuss.”
Thirteen-point-five billion years ago. In a computer lab before time. Two Engineers were in fierce competition with one another. One, named Alya, had a creation that far surpassed the other’s–Actually, you’d call it more of a simulation than a creation. As the competition came to a close, the other engineer, named Lucifer, became overwhelmed with jealousy. In the face of inevitable defeat, Lucifer snuck onto Alya’s computer and punched two simple buttons; X followed by the number 2. By pressing these keys in combination, ‘X2’, Lucifer added an element into Alya’s model of DNA. Undetectable to this great creator, Alya, the element added would infect her creation with something called ‘Deceit’-forever sabotaging her experiment….
Throughout the year I had written stories and asked my students to answer a, ‘Question for Reflection’. Besides wanting them to get in the practice of keeping a journal to chronical their personal development, the purpose behind this was to increase their cognitive ability to interpret ‘stories.’ Rather than simply watch and believe, I hoped that I could teach them to watch and decipher. In my earlier “manifesto” I referred to this ability as an individual’s ‘C.S.I’ score (Common Sense Intellect).
As our time together was coming to an end, I was going to put it to the test….
Standing in front of them, I spoke a statement that I had spent a lot of time preparing and did my best to deliver it with purpose, “Writing allows me to detach from my time and think of a world that has healed. A world where destiny is real… and the ability to diverge from where you are is available to anyone that wants it. A world I wish we all could one day live in.”
I then paused before asking the question that would get this lesson started, “Now, can you all please share with me what you think this short story means?”
I spent the next half-hour listening to them share their ideas. The conversations were even more intense than I expected. All of them had put some real thought into what the story could mean. Some of them got offended by what the others perceived it to mean…and they argued. As I had anticipated, religion was a key discussion point; not normally encouraged at school but something that I permitted to take place just for today. Listening to them, I kept the conversations on track when necessary but hardly muttered a word. As I watched them all ask one another, ‘What-If-Questions,’ I knew that I had done my job well.
Recognizing that time was short, I brought us back together as a class to teach them the day’s lesson.
“Alright my friends,” I started, “Like all the stories you’ve read this year…I created this one also. Would you like to know the meaning behind it?”
In life there are certain moments that we wish to freeze in time, to remember so that we may one day reflect on and smile upon when needed. Knowing that this was going to be one of those moments I looked out amongst my students and tried to take a mental picture.
“You all know that I’ve been married and divorced twice correct?” I asked the class, in order to set it up. Seeing them all shake their heads and throw a few jokes my way, I knew I was about to get them….
Focusing on a special student up front, I could not help but smirk as I looked her straight in the eyes to say, “I wrote the story so that one day the world might learn that my second x-wife was a creation of the devil.”
A brief moment of shocked silence was followed by an announcement laughed from the back of the room, “You’re a real A-hole you know that!”
I had been working on limiting the swears used in my class, but at that moment, strong words seemed necessary in order for this message to be properly received. I was not mad.
Nodding my head…agreeing with this declaration…I smiled and responded proudly, “Yes…I am.”
Knowing that I had gotten the message across successfully, I gathered myself in order to present them with the lesson that this class was designed to teach, “How many of you want revenge? … To get back at those that have wronged you?? … To show the world that you were right, and they were wrong??? …. Can any of you relate to feeling like this?”
Social media has successfully offered individuals across the globe a tool allowing them to create their own personal war-against-the-world. There is no doubt humanity does not yet understand how to properly use this weapon…and the psychological effects can be seen anywhere and everywhere you look. I knew this when I asked them these questions….and I hoped that they recognized it as well.
Not wanting to lose control of the class I let them all nod their heads as a sign of understanding, but did not let them speak so that I could finish, “I wrote that story in my own personal journal in the middle of the night some time ago. My second x-wife was selling the house I had built her, and she was moving in with her boyfriend. I was broken. I was sad, and I was angry- a dangerous mixture of emotions to cope with. If I would have jumped on Facebook and wrote how I felt about my ex-wife at the time…do you think I would have regretted it?”
I turned to the board and wrote one last acronym for the class to remember:
P.R.I.D.E.= Poor Ride Into Darkness (for) Everyone
“To have pride in who you are, and what you do is a good thing. But there is such a thing as false pride that can bring darkness into your life- this darkness can spread through social media and is very hard to control if you permit it to.” Pausing for a moment so that they could agree, I continued, “The fact that my ex-wife chose to leave did not make sense to me. I did not know how to accept it. My ‘false-pride’ would not permit me to. As she moved on in her life to discover happiness again, I wanted justification for my hurt…I wanted revenge. I loved her…and if she chose not to love me back then I would one day make her regret it. Now, let me ask you this: Would social media have given me the means by which to voice such heated desires? – Of course!”
Sprinkling this lesson with truth, like all the others, I worked towards the conclusion, “Now that I am past that difficult time in my life, I can tell you with certainty that I would have regretted putting any of my hurt on social media. I would have never been able to take it back. This is one of the many reasons I encourage you to keep personal journals-so that you can vent there instead. If I had said something about her using that weapon at my fingertips-the internet-would people have ever forgotten what I said? …. As you consider that, let me ask you this: Will you ever forget the meaning being X2?”
Wanting them to accept one more thing before their minds drifted off, I said, “We are all children when we encounter new things. New emotions…new ideas…new fears…new dreams…new whatever…. And common sense can only take you so far. In such a world the internet can be a dangerous place.” By telling them this I was ready to finish the day’s lesson, “Unable to decipher what is real from what is fake, people are often left wondering what to believe- in fact, some of us fight with whether or not we should believe at all. Do not be discouraged however, as there is magic in this…there is magic in knowing that we just do not know.”
To end the lecture, I wanted to clear up a few things, “Before you leave here today, I need to make sure that you all know that X2 is actually a wonderful person-what I have shared with you today I can only hope stays between us for that reason. This great woman stood by me through some very dark times in my life, and I would not be who I am without her. She found a happiness that I could have never given her. In return, the Universe had freed me in a way that hurt but in a way that was necessary; a reality I needed time to understand and accept. Someday you will have a person that bounces back and forth in your life; from friends to enemies, and hopefully back again. How you feel about people in your life can be temporary-if you are strong enough to let it be that way. Please use this lesson as proof of that.”
There was so much I wanted to say to clear things up in that moment, but sometimes we talk too much…so, I tried my best to make it simple for them, “X2 is a great mother to my youngest son, and today she is still a great friend to me. Removed from the pain of a broken heart, I can tell you with all sincerity that I do still love her. The story I shared with you today was not an attack on her, but merely a means to educate you. Some people hold onto grudges their entire lives. Thankfully I was blessed with a short memory-it allows me to forget. Forgiving, however, is a choice. One I hope you are strong enough to make as a lot of people in this world need it. Me included.”
Leaving the classroom that day, I felt accomplished.
Unlike all previous Fridays throughout the year I did not have an article to share with them this day. But seeing how the class had just went, I thought that perhaps I had taught them enough or one day.
The reason I did not have an article for them was because I was working on something else that was consuming most of my free time…I was working on my book. This was something that I had told my students already, along with the promise to share with them the ending when we met on our last day together.
I had my work cut out for me, but I would not let them down. They had learned to ask questions. They had been patient. Now it was on me to reward them for their faith.
Week 19- Question for Reflection:
What are the D words?