Monday night I had my first close-encounter-of-a-“school”-kind since leaving the hollow halls in 2011. My husband and I went to an old haunt, The Cantab, in Cambridge’s Central Square. In 1991, The Cantab started an open mic. Every Monday, you’ll find local talent, and songwriter legend, Geoff Bartley, hosting a slew of guitar slinging song writers trotting out their newest songs.
Geoff was featuring a friend of mine, so we met up with other friends to listen, including my one “school” recruit (so to speak) – I now refer to him as 007, a name he earned when springing himself and a number of others free from “school” — but that’s another story. OO7 immediately recognized an ex-essence friend in the crowd — his sustainer. Ex-sustainer-man appeared blissfully unaware that two evil disgruntled(s) were on the scene … that is until my featured friend asked me, from the stage, to join him on a song.
I saw the look – shock and sudden recognition!
The featured ended and open mic-r’s continued the night. 007 told me that his set was back to back with ex-sustainer-man’s set and we laughed; I saw ex-sustainer-man starting to prepare, taking guitar out of case, tuning it up, etc. but upon hearing 007’s name, ex-sustainer-man quickly packed his guitar back into the case and high-tailed it out of the bar.
At this point, I will direct this post to him: ex-sustainer man, there are plenty of legitimate things to run away from in life. As we all know, the world threatens with dangers a’ plenty and in some cases you are wise to run away. Just look at our current orange president.
I pose no real danger to you; 007 certainly does not — I’m more cranky than he is, truth be told. You stayed the entire night, only to scuttle out right before you were going to play. Why? You don’t have to live this way — ducking into the shadows every time you encounter an ex-“school” doobie. The irony is that this group you’re hued to “school”, “the study”, “class”, “the work”, inflicts far more damage on you, than a brief encounter with a “disgruntled ex-student”.
Ex-sustainer man, I didn’t interact with you a lot. But I do remember a few things about you: for example, your help when I was drawing, enlarging really, an illustration I’d found in a book of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales. It was Christmas Party time. We were making decorations to match the theme — The Snow Queen. You are a gifted artist and under your guidance, I created the first piece of visual art I’d drawn for many years.
It was a magic. The drawing felt like it flowed through me with you guiding the process when I got stuck. When it was finished, I got lots of kudos from fellow essence friends and teachers, a like. I was proud of it. For a brief time, “school” affirmed and let me reconnect to my inner, neglected artist. That experience set deep hooks in to me — I kept waiting for a repeat performance that never came.
I also remember seeing you lurking outside the Belmont Lion’s Club space, back in 2007, when I was a fresh-faced “youngest student”. I noticed it; I wondered why, but never asked. Now I know that you were the sentry, on the lookout for disgruntled ex-students who put flyers on cars and warned businesses and potential targets away from the cult.
I hope that you don’t fritter away your time and talent, till death do you part, following arbitrary rules, and protecting this con job. Really, it’s bullshit. And your talent is real. “School” is sucking the life out of you. Try two weeks away from “class”. Break the rules. Talk to some disgruntled(s). Tell some un-“schooled” souls about your secret world (if you know any). Watch some bad t.v.
Maybe you’ll start to recognize normal life again. Maybe you’ll be able to go to the Cantab open mic and stay the entire night to play your set, no matter who is in the room! Imagine that. Imagine a life in which “school” no longer holds court over your every thought, decision, emotion, artistic endeavor and interaction.
That, my “essence friend”, is true freedom.