Late Night Thoughts with Lu

Late Night Thoughts with Lu: On Loneliness and On Coming Together

Michael is a raconteur and a rogue. Filled with outlandish outbursts and eccentric disruptions, he singlehandedly shakes lessons askew. And yet, with disarmingly self-deprecating charm and understated charisma, he also singlehandedly captures and captivates a class or advisory with engrossing stories and laugh-out-loud observations. He holds court with easy confidence and spins yarns, and we listen bemusedly and attentively, taking in the reprieve from the classroom grind. Odd as it is, Michael is a connector, a storyteller that unites disparate individuals. The people listening to him are strangely bonded. We talk to each other afterwards with, “Remember the time Michael said….” And those that come after ask, “Did Michael really do that?”

He reminds me of what John Lennon said in a song, “Here come old flap top, he come grooving up slowly. Got to be a joker he just do what he please. He say I know you, you know me. One thing I can tell you is you got to be free. Come together, right now, over me.” We’re coming together over Michael, and it’s all right, and it’s all good.

If you ever stroll the school during break times, you’ll see lots of people and lots of interactions. Mr. Parker doling out apples or candies, frantic grade 8s chase each other with a ball, groups huddle in classrooms, and a litany of seniors make their way to 10th. You’ll also see solitary figures on their own. Some people simply need alone time. Some are waiting for someone or a class, and pull out a phone so it won’t look like they are on their own. Some, I’m sure, are lonely.

We try really hard here to lay out opportunities for connections, for gatherings, for easy steps to be swept into the fabric of the community. Loneliness still happens. A student once mentioned how sometimes a certain personality or style just didn’t quite mesh with our culture and ethos. And I think it’s true. You can be in a crowd and lonely. Sometimes, it just is.

During an advisory panel discussion, Max related some healthy advice. He discussed how he enjoyed one thing, and how that one thing connected him to another person, and soon that led to other connections, and there he found his place, his comfort. It was hopeful advice. Emma, Logan, and Adrian swim both at club and at school, and I see the knowingness, the commonality, and the assured relationships it brings. Owen, Kyle, Rachel, and the Friday lunch math crew have it too, in their own way, in their own fashion. When Michella does ballet, she is in her world, a world away, a world of joy. At a Destination Imagination tournament, I saw the easy feel good cooperation of groups creating, thinking, and building. Teams, clubs, artisans, and organizations of all kinds beckon and call. Author Robert Fulghum said it well, “Sometimes I think of all the times in this sweet life when I must have missed the affection I was being given. A friend calls this ‘standing knee-deep in the river and dying of thirst.’”

And yet we have seasons. Friendships blossom and fade. Activities end, interests wither. The new rapidly becomes dejectedly old. And in the ebbs of these seasons, we sometimes find ourselves standing still with nary a person to be beside. It’s an empty realization. A loneliness.

And here is where Michael enters stage right. The connector and the bard who gives us a song and story to listen to. A sharing that makes us think, “I’m part of something weird here, I’m not sure what it is, but I know it’s something and I know it’s real.”  It might be just a small, flitting something that carries us to the next season, the next activity, the next group of connections. But it’s a little crutch, a little stable rock, to give us a grasp until we find a direction, a malleable hold on weary lonesome days.

Michael, you drive me crazy, and you make it really hard to teach. But thanks for being you. You’re one of a kind. And thanks for helping us come together.

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