It was community college that changed my life, philosophy class and George Sessions who introduced me to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
And incidentally, have I ever told you all how I dislike the initials ZMM? It leaves out the A for art, and it is Art that transforms our lives and it was the Art of that book at that time, when so much else was going on with me in philosophy and deep ecology, that shook my core and rearranged my goals in life from being an attorney to being a carpenter/philosopher/poet. A failure in most eyes, true. But a success in my own and that's the important thing.
So I was kinda chagrined when my creative writing teacher back then, said at first that he didn't like ZAMM. He didn't like all the metaphysics, he'd been expecting something different. But the book got so much praise, he read it again and realized he hadn't read it aright the first time. He'd completely misunderstood what that book was all about. It wasn't about Zen. It wasn't about motorcycle maintenance and it wasn't about Art or philosophy or metaphysics. It was about, he claimed, a man seeking a lost connection with his son. And reading it in that light, he greatly enjoyed it.
Now at that time, I didn't appreciate his "review". I didn't have kids yet. That book held the vital keys to gaps in my philosophical thinking and my appreciation for it on that level was so vast that I couldn't understand how anybody else could read it and walk away without realizing it changes everything. In the years following, I even sort of expected the world to star changing. The lid had been ripped off the mental box in which we were all trapped. How come nobody else realized ? Why wasn't the world changing ? The book ended so optimistically with the promise that everything was gonna be all right somehow.
I was like that child, arms wrapped around my dad, trusting him to keep the bike upright and the wheels a-churning and to get us where we needed to go. I'm older now, with kids of my own and I'm starting to see more and more the wisdom of that creative writing teacher whose name I don't recall.
What we do here is not about the metaphysics, it's not about Quality even. It's about trying to make connections to each other in a world that rips us apart. And I'm grateful indeed for the artists who try.