I’ve been stumbling down memory lane lately thanks to the reunion, recently having lunch with my 4th grade teacher and trying to empty out boxes from the move. A few of the boxes haven’t been cracked open in years. In the process of sifting through the mess tossing Xeroxed pages of Encyclopedia Brittanica entries on falcons and years worth of German homework I found some of my college blue books, my high school transcript and a list of my national achievement scores along with a book called Autographs which had you fill-in-the-blanks.
I started with the Autographs book because it seemed harmless enough. I learned that I thought “Firebirds” were the neatest cars because “they are neat”. My favorite sports team was the Dallas Cowboys and I really enjoyed “the time they won.” (That doesn’t say much about the Cowboys season that year.) I even put in an area called “Special notes about me:” that “I can write.” I’m not sure if I was trying to say I had the capability or that I actually thought I had some talent. There were some bits about friends and crushes and I managed to fill those in with my own brand of brilliant logic: My friend “Tammy” likes “Marco”. I know because “she said so.” Well, there you have it. I picked this little gem up, showed it to Jay and just laughed then I moved on to my blue books.
The couple of blue books I had came from my political science class on Western Political Thought – basically Western philosophy. I scanned the first one; it was bad and then I looked at my professor’s remarks (the professor I worshiped, the professor whose teachings made it all clear that I should be in political science) and it read, “… your answer lacks depth…” Oh. I opened the next blue book, flipped to his comments and read again “…your answer lacks depth…” and then I sat there stunned. My whole college career was obviously one big mistake. All the problems in my life come from this tremendous character flaw that no one told me about and were obviously having a good chuckle about behind my back. My college professor was the only one with the courage to reach out through the decades and confront me.
Suddenly the Autographs book seemed less humorous and only provided further proof of my weakness. The transcripts where my English classes only rivaled my PE classes for poorest grade, the achievement tests where I didn’t score the perfect score – in fact, the whole foul little box was one blazing neon sign screaming “you have no depth.” I looked back in at it and sat stunned. Among the treasures were my college creative writing papers. I re-read those and re-read those of my fellow classmates (part of the class involved editing their writing). What they wrote far surpassed what I wrote and it taunted me.
I began to brood, which drew Jay’s attention, “what’s wrong?” “Nothing.” He frowned at me and asked again, “what’s wrong?” “I lack depth.” “What does that mean?” Well, I obviously can’t answer that question because of this whole shallow thing I’ve got going on. “It means, that this is why I’m a failure.” Try as I might, I couldn’t convince him that this box was the big fortune cookie, my life’s Magic 8 ball that when questioned came back and said, “You lack depth.” This box said that Terry Gross, the host of Fresh Air on NPR was never going to call me up and try to solicit my opinions. This box said I was destined to be a low level clerk. This box did not say that sometimes I didn’t like to do my reading in college or that not all professor’s are fooled by lame attempts to conceal the fact that you didn’t do the reading. This box was my albatross demanding that I travel the world telling my story in an attempt to redeem myself in the hopes of finding deeper waters.
Sometimes a box is not just a box.
Anyway, my 10 readers, that’s what I’m thinking about this week. I’m sure some bright shiny object will distract me and lull me back to that oblivious state I’ve enjoyed for years. I hate it when my brain wakes up to destabilize my goofy existence.