Sep 10, 2012

Back to School Nostalgia

I woke up this morning feeling unhappy. It is the first day of school, but that is not why I am unhappy. I am moody as I am not a student anymore, not a parent either, so I cannot partake in this mass hysteria of the first day of school. A few scenes from my past came passing by me as I daydreamed on my way to work. Those old notebooks with parallel lines, or squares that we used to call literature notebook, or math notebook when we looked for them at the store, were the first thing in my mind, and somehow, this random memory, made me both nostalgic and nauseous in the same time. I remembered knowing what date it was because I wrote the date in the right side at the beginning of each homework, and it’s so sad that I haven’t done it in years. Will one day seeing the date at the home screen of my phone, or at the far right below side of the computer become also nostalgic? Now it seems so routine, and random, like everything we are used to do each day, and yet, it is always the little things, that we miss when we are separated from them. Somehow that random gesture of writing in the notebook became something I deeply missed and at that moment my whole day was ruined, knowing that those kids walking with their backpacks to school could do that, and I couldn't.
I used to always love September. Every year I would buy the books that looked so fresh and unscathed with so much new information I couldn't wait to go through. I would cover them with white paper or plastic to protect them from time, label them with my name, class, and the name of the book. I would visit the store with so much happiness, buying my childhood drug: Pencils, pens, notebooks, rubber (the erasing kind), and many other things I wouldn't need or use, but I just couldn't help but buy. I would arrange my desk and have all books in front of me. I would go through the first pages, and be excited that once again I could learn more things about biology, philosophy, math, psychology, geography, history. I would be once again immersed into that world of knowledge, and working, and practicing, and improving myself in an environment that praised me and enforced me for it. I would get better grades this year. I would study at this hour to that hour, right after school, without opening the telly to watch that Digimon show, or that Italian show where women and men would scream at each other for who knows what again. I would sleep early, wake up early, not be late for school. I would not ruin my books with scribbles. I would not waste notebooks. I would repeat each week the lessons learned. I was so excited that I had a chance to have a new beginning. I would buy a new agenda. I wished they made agendas that began in September, instead of January. To me September was the reset month: the chance to start anew again. It was my happiness. It was my drug. It was a fresh nonscribbled book, a fresh unwritten notebook, a fresh unused eraser. To me September was the month of rebirth.
The other things were good but secondary. Meeting my friends, the new clothes I would wear the first day, and being suddenly in the eighth grade, or in the third year, they were all good. Life was so clean, a tabula rasa of some sort, where I could write my life anew, and forget the past.
I don’t know many people who miss school for the reasons I did. I don’t care much for the friends, or the parties or the easiness of life that I had those times. I miss it for the studying. I could go in different worlds within the length of one day. Explore the stars and the depth of the universe in the third hour, and calculate equations that made use of my logical skills in the next, only to explore how our metabolic system worked, and later how electricity worked. It was fantastic! I could learn so many things. How can anyone not appreciate the great gift that school is? The money that I have to pay now for what was given to me for free…really how can anyone not enjoy the knowledge and the work behind acquiring that knowledge?  It was easy back then. If I studied, if I did the homework, I would succeed. Of course at work it’s different. It doesn't matter how much work you put into something, you don’t know if you will succeed or not. There are other parameters, more unfairness, and the skills acquired are usually random. I used to feel like a renaissance woman, having knowledge from many fields, while now I have to work in a cubicle, specializing only in one small fragment of the universe. I had the whole universe at my hands, and now I have a box.
I never wanted to leave school. The academic world has always interested me more than anything else. When I heard about this Venus Project and the idea of a future world where people wouldn't have to engage into meaningless work, as they would have housing, and food, and energy no matter what, and they could have time to study and research in the fields they were interested in, I thought that it was brilliant, brilliant with a British pronunciation nevertheless. What scholar wouldn't want a future like that? A world in which all resources could be used, all talents, all time, in an effective way. Of course I don’t believe that that world will come in my lifetime, if ever, but the idea of that world made me realize how unhappy I was in this one. I woke up understanding I was a robot, convincing myself I was doing something meaningful, and my labor was important in the great scheme of things. The biggest lies we tell, are the lies we tell ourselves. I realized I was never happier than the time I was studying, and all that mattered to me was to go back to my dream, having the time and the energy again to explore the worlds of knowledge. It is so sad how much mankind knows today, and how little the general public does. I would like to remember again the things I have forgotten, how the lights work, how the bridges work, why planes can fly, what are the physical laws behind it, and the formulas to calculate them. Adults need to earn a living, but why waste time earning money for somebody else when there is so much work online nowadays that can free me from the framing into a robot for an office, for a company, that requires of me to strip my personality, and to give my time, while giving up on the things I love the most. There are ways I can escape from the world I hate, and create for myself the world I love. They are not as perfect or easy like the Venus Project, but still they are existent. Once you wake up and you see the Matrix, you cannot fall back into the illusion, and hypnosis.
What I see in my future, is my past, the time I was happiest, when I could learn and know things, and even teach them and share them with the others. I wish one day the same for humanity: the time of Ancient Greece, when there were the schools of Plato and Aristotle, and people would sit around the whole day and discuss theories, laws of politics, and physics and language. There was a time like that in human history; I wish it can come again. I wish my future, and our future, could be once again our past. A time when we used knowledge to live effectively, and we weren't in an auto-mat pilot like we are today. I wish for humanity to wake up, like I did. 

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