The World is our teacher

The World is our teacher

For Nat, beginning School

Ride the wind with me. To ride the wind – in any form – to fly a kite, loft a balloon in the gloaming, hear the snap of a sail, or glide on feckless membranes over a salt white deathful-playful roil – to be grasped by the wind is to find your heart and fling it outward.

The wind never takes gently the kite from your fingers. It plucks like a fish sucking a bait, then strikes and runs.

The implausibly green grass behind the cliff-drop is sacred, infinitely more space than the ten metres, to those who stand fizzing with the hot-cold anticipation of crossing. Then walk, run, leap, ask, into aether, find me.

I do not know if a sail catches or is caught by the wind. The fierce joy of waiting to find out is beating my heart. Do men chase after the wind, or are they chased? And by eternity? Fling it outward. Yah breathed his breath into my nostrils, and its exhalation is this longing. The chasing of eternity.

One of the great lies you will learn at school is that the world is a place for your choosing. A void that you speak into and create. You will learn that the most important words are ‘Let there be…’ That there is a fullness within you – a place full of dreams and desires, futures comprehended and waiting for articulation. You will be proferred the insipid orange cordial of expressive individualism. The canteen will daily retail the empty carbohydrates of pre-digested existentialism and anti-realism. You will be told that the world is nothing in itself, it is only what you make it. That the world is formless in itself, until you give it shape. That the world is meaningless in itself, until your choices give it meaning. All this is vanity. Pay it little attention.

At school they will try to teach you to chase dreams and desires. What they mean by this is make yourself useful. Be needed, loved, respected, then you will be safe enough. You will learn that lesson deeply before you can begin to unlearn it. So every day I whisper to you the question that unlocks the deeper knowledge. Remember who loves you. School yourself in its answer.

I will show you the elevation of kites. The patience-rising-rush of a sail. The world will be our teacher. There is a fullness to be discovered in it. Words were already spoken, “Let there be”. Listen. When you match your works to its forms, then you can fly.

Many will call to you to chase this or that: mostly it’s vapour.

As your father I say, chase the wind.

It has always been chasing you.

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