Friday, December 19, 2008



Driving onto the schools parking lot this morning, at the early hour I arrive, I noticed the number of street lamps we have which no longer operate. Not one, nor five, but fully two thirds have gone dark. Darkness presides over the lane and the lot, with only flickering glimmers from the few working lights which remain.

I'm aware.... budget restraints.... overworked maintenance staff.... the reasons for these lights to be out are myriad and mostly valid. Yet..... I had to pull over in a moment of shock. Getting to school each morning, before sunrise usually, I had never noticed the lights out before. Thinking back, I recalled the incremental darkness, but it never fully registered.

What set me back so harshly was the sudden vision of decay. In it's own way, those few burnt out lights, left for dead, drove home a notion which has been nagging at the edges of my mind for some time. The idea that, in many ways, society has been slowly rotting from within. Like an apple still shiny and colorful, but inside riddled with cancerous decay. They reminded me of bleak towns gone dark from the pages of Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

It's a rot that manifests itself in ways both small and large. Pervasive, leaving little untouched, it creeps within notice so slowly as to remain hidden in plain sight.

Perhaps it's just a symptom of the school year and another seasons change in our students. Not so gentle as the lights going dark, the change in our students from one year to the next is sharper and more dramatic. We instructors get together and compare notes, seeking to blend and coordinate, temper and balance. 'This years students are.... the most....... the least...... surprisingly............

Small things attract our attention now. The amount of trash tossed carelessly on the floor. Vehicles taken apart as task work... and abandoned as too much effort. Exams failed, despite extraordinary measures on our part. In that moment I spent parked, looking at the lights gone dark, I had a tiny little epiphany. What we are seeing is decay... decay of the human spirit.

I don't know how to fix that.


Anthony said...

Just a small thought on decay, and maybe it will cheer you up a bit.

I agree that decay is happening. But sometimes things still flourish in decay. Mushrooms are grown in decay. Compost heaps are created in order to create food. Sometimes fire is used to clear dead and dying brush in order for new, healthy plants to grow.

Even when some humanity is decaying there is still good folks.
It will take good folks to raise a new generation of good kids. I know that you work with young people, but just know that I am 22, and I am honest, I have integrity and honor, I am respectful, I work hard, and I'll be damned if my (future) children don't have those values.

Jean said...

well, now. Anthony up there ^ just gave me back some hope. Thanks.

But, at my age, it is sometimes easier to feel fear at witnessing some kinds of decay, knowing it also represents an end to some of life's beauties.

Christina LMT said...

My daughter (17) shakes her head at many of her peers...BUT, she has a lot of friends who share her values, so I think there's still hope! (Even if it's just one light left flickering...)