From the diary of humanoid Jane: a senior English Literature student in the high lands of America.
“And with that, my fellow writers, we come to a wrap on what falling action is as well as our quick review of the previous lecture”, Professor K. concluded in his normal excited news anchor-ish voice.
No doubt Professor K. is everybody’s favorite in the whole English Literature department; he’s smart, down-to-earth, open to new ideas even the worst of them and most importantly, he goes his own way. Well, maybe this last thing isn’t very admired by the rest of the staff and faculty members but for us, students, it’s the coolest thing about him. He never lies or sugarcoats or “rephrases” facts; he just throws them right in your face…
“If I don’t do it now, someone else or something else is gonna do it later and you’re gonna hate me for the rest of your lives. And to be honest, I so happen to love the idea of my being the most lovable teacher on campus”, he’d always shrug jokingly right after he’d thrown a life ugly factual grenade in the middle of the 100-year-old lecture hall and we’d just appreciate it!
I was thinking about how fast the semester had gone by; how crazy fast freshman year had gone by, when Professor K.’s enthusiastic clap brought me back to earth.
“So as far as plot is concerned, we did talk about the exposition, rising action, climax and falling action. Now it’s time to talk aboooout…?” he sung quizzically as hands rose enthusiastically.
“Exactement, mon ami!” yelled Professor K. in his most excitedly supportive tone. One of the things I love the most about Professor K. is how he always manages to make us feel as equally talented, like we all do matter, like our existence is essential for planet Earth to keep moving.
“But we before we go there, there is that one tiny little thing nobody ever tells you about stories,” he trailed off, “and the funny thing is, that untold overlooked thing is almost the truest about any story there was, is and will be.”
I shift in my seat, gathering all my mental forces, preparing for yet another Prof. K. epiphany. I can feel almost every other being in the room doing the same…
He pauses for a minute to take a good look at everyone in the room from behind his frameless round John-Lennon glasses, as if he wanted to make sure we are all present with every bit of our being. He always does that whenever he is about to open up about something personal, something that he truly believes in or, and I’m quoting him here, something that “touched” his soul.
“It’s that peace that towers over when the story is just about to end, when you know it’s about to end; well or awfully, it doesn’t matter really, you feel the peace taking over every bone in your body even if everything is about to end as horribly as apocalypse.
You take a long look at everything, everyone that’s been there from the very beginning and nothing seems to matter anymore. Nothing! The conflicts, the yell-packed fights, the laughs, the tears, the paper and pens and staples and the coffee machine lingering proudly in the same corner for years, it’s all the same. Every little detail breaks your heart with a thrashing spear of…peace! You know it’s about to end, God, you wanted it to end, you prayed for it to end and when you just know your prayer is about to be answered, you’re not sure anymore. Maybe you’re scared of the next chapter, maybe this ending chapter has sneakingly grown on you, you are just not sure anymore. And in the most incomprehensible, magical way that you can only find in the cosmic work of life, it all fills you up with peace. You have no hard feelings. You can’t feel any more pain. You’re not even happy or excited or remorseful or nostalgic for that matter. You’re only…peaceful. You recall every tiny detail with unprecedented scrutiny and you aren’t to develop any sentiment over it except for that peaceful easy heart-thrashing feeling…
The story is about to end!”
I don’t know why but Professor K.’s words made me think of grandpa. I’ve always been an anxious kid, still am, and he willingly and relentlessly took up the job of calming me down. One day, we were walking back home from Carvel’s where he had offered to take me earlier for ice cream in an attempt to distract me from my murderous anxiety over some delayed test results. I looked up at his serene aging face glowing peacefully in the June sun as I asked him: “How come you’re always so composed?”
“Composed!” he chuckled and then gave me that warm reassuring look that always maintained my faith in good and beauty, “well, it’s the old age I guess.”
“One of the funny things you get to learn about life when you’re old and gray like myself is that it’s alright. Everything passes. The Earth keeps moving. And it’s just alright as long as the sun comes up in the morning.
But the even funnier thing you get to learn is that we forget it. We so happen to forget that everything must pass, that everything DOES pass. And, usually it’s almost too late when we do remember it…it’s when the story is about to end.”
I look around and I could see Maya in the front row quietly wiping her eyes, and I know she must have remembered a long-lost loved one or maybe she was simply touched. After all, this is how it’s always been with Professor K…he lays down life right in front of you and you know for sure this particular piece of life he just unraveled never going to be the same.