I found myself in an Italian villa, or something like it. I discovered a very interesting parallel between the natural world and an idea I had. So, I assembled the children of the place, two young boys. As I began to explain the parallel, and even before I could convey my excitement at the discovery, hoping to catch the interest of the older brighter boy, he decided that my instruction was a total waste of time for him. He couldn’t see the point of sitting there, so stomped off.
Here is what I learned. First, I wasted my emotional energy on that boy, worrying how to engage him after he left. Second, I became blind to the younger boy in my anger. As my anger waned, and I settled down, I noticed the younger boy dawdling, playing with some object in his imagination. It’s almost as if he had entirely missed my exchange with the older boy. I had judged him slower, less apt, and so almost missed my golden opportunity to find a way to convey my excitement, and perhaps drive him to build a curiosity about the reasons of the natural world I discovered.
As dreams go, this one faded at the moment I began to search for a way to instruct the younger boy. I had forgotten the insight that set up the situation. But I remembered how the anger toward the older boy almost lost me the opportunity of engaging the younger one.
I am always in this quandary about how I am disposed to select some students for success over others. I know my natural inclination has its flaws, and that my rationality is biased. But I do it anyway. I don’t think it is possible to fully focus on this problem and teach at the same time. I can’t help but focus on those who are interested in conversing. But I know, that as a student, I didn’t always leap to the floor to speak. That didn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about it.
When I was young I went through something called “sensitivity training.” Part of the feedback I remember is that even though it didn’t look like I was paying attention, I was listening. This is like the younger boy of my dream. Is this dream all about myself? Like Neo in the Master’s lair viewing the multitudes of possible reactions to the conversation at the same time, am I looking at my self through two of the obvious lenses of my action? Is the older boy the part of me that refuses instruction for all the reasons people rebel, while the younger boy is me lost in a daydream and not engaged with the rebel’s drama? These are clearly parts of me.
The older boy may be an archetype of the offended person who doesn’t have time to sit through a lecture by someone he doesn’t trust and has been hurt by, even if only by association. The younger boy may be an archetype of the dreamer himself. Now, I’m in a loop dreaming about myself being in a dream. I had no idea this examination would be so much fun. Now, I find the lint in the bellybutton: What is it about me that offends me about myself? Never mind, the catalog of possibilities is large, but never fatal.