About a year ago, I began a teachers’ union meeting at my school with this quote from Theodore Roethke: “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” That was a dark time, but this is a darker time, still. The Los Angeles Unified School District has zeroed out the budget for the program I teach, a program that serves more than 300,000 adults in Los Angeles: the Division of Adult and Career Education. They seem intent on completely eliminating our entire program.
And so, once again, we start planning street protests and writing letters to school board members and state legislators.
But this time it’s different. This time, it’s more serious. This time, my wife was undergoing open-heart surgery in the middle of it all. This time, many people have volunteered to help. People who once rolled their eyes or did nothing when I asked for their help. Those people, and more, are stepping into the breach I left when I passed through my own dark time, my own illness, and my wife’s terrifying journey past death’s door.
In the middle of all the fear, there is this calm.
Of course, being the New Age freak that I am, I thank yoga and meditation. But I also thank my friends, the people who have rushed to serve the cause of saving adult education and our school — not out of friendship for me, but because they love our students and our work.
They do it for the love, and we struggle on because we love. Because if we didn’t, it would not be worth it, and the eye would cease to see.
The really weird thing is that, in the middle of all these crazy days of mad rushing to make signs and organize demonstrations and signmaking, and to write letters and help other people write letters and gather petitions and drive petitions to the drop-off, all while trying to get over to UCLA Medical Center and see my wounded wife (thank God our daughter is covering that side of things magnificently) and tend to other union business AND — by the way — do my own job, which is at least full time… in the middle of all that, I feel happy. Weirdly, inexplicably happy. As if my whole life was a preparation for this battle. As if I was born to do this. As if this struggle, this madness, is perfect.
Those of you who are religious might say, “Of course it’s perfect — God made it!” And even though I am not religious, I would have to agree.
And those who are not religious might say, “Bullshit! Nothing is perfect.” To which I would have to say, “You’re right. What you said is… perfect.”
I love the perfection of water, which is in its flow — never still, yet always following its own Tao, its own way, its own path of least resistance. While I organize resistance to the school board’s apparent intentions, I follow my own path of least resistance.
Which is to fight. In my spare time, that’s what I do. I play computer games, fighting imaginary enemies in an imaginary world.
But this is real.
Woe to those who have awakened the wrath of the people I love. For they, and I will soon be at their door. Not with threats, but with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of those I love beside me.
The very rich and the very powerful people who have brought us to this pass — budget cuts that slam the door on the hopes of those with so little — will soon tremble when they see what they have created: a mighty storm of us, the ones who love. They, who love their money and power, shall one day lose both. And we, who love our fellows and our kin, shall rise and join our love around the world.