Suppose you were in school and found yourself deficient in a particular subject, let’s say – math. You come across this individual who agrees to help you and you choose next Monday to begin. That day comes and you meet at Starbucks. You are armed with your school books on math, and have notes and sketches sequestered into their respective folders. You both take sips of your coffee and the hour begins but absent are pads of paper and pencils or pens. The tutor reclines as fully as possible and puts a leg up on an adjoining chair. She watches you as you fidget. She places a folded sweater under her elbow and closes her eyes. Uncertain of anything, you continue sipping your coffee.
After a short hiatus which seemed like an hour, you begin. ‘We’re going to learn about math here, correct?’ After a minute her eyes opened and she replied, ‘Yes, we are, but first we’re going to find out why math is difficult for you.’
Then came the tutor’s questions which covered topics from your childhood to your relationship with numbers. The queries were in depth and every minor facet had to be explained fully. The coffees drained. With fifteen minutes to go she leaned over and said, ‘Tell me everything you know about the number ‘one.’
There wasn’t much to share. The hour was used up, but it seemed it was continuing even after she left, as if a residual force was still present. Perhaps it was caused by the softness of her approach, or even the lack of any approach. After her departure you were encompassed with this strange feeling, not really befuddlement, but more awe-like. An imperceptible dynamic that just lingered, but never left completely.
There were no instructions given, no lesson plans, not even a suggestion other than the number ‘1’.
That cold, hard, demon – that math textbook – was on the table two feet away. In some most unknown way it beckoned. You opened it with no idea why. There was that number ‘1’ used in combination with other math things. And ‘curiosity’ – what the hell was that doing there!?
It was indeed a different world to you that morning. The broadcast antenna that you always had erected, retracted, and the antenna for reception took its place. Your likeness to a squirt-gun changed into the likeness of a sponge. Temporarily erased were all those facets of life that you always took for granted like; traffic, weather, differences with others, petty concerns of all types. They had all just lifted. With their absence came the eradication of any agenda, of any destination. You realized that you could turn left at the next traffic signal. You had never even noticed that road before, and now you’re heading down it! ‘What is going on!!!’ You pull to the side of the road and roll down the windows. There are birds, squirrels, trees, sunlight, shadows, a breeze, smells, beauty – Magic! – and tears. Tears in the middle of the afternoon while parked on some unknown road. ‘What is going on?’
The tutor returns tomorrow.
Come, listen in.