To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Year 3: Part 4: Post 5: Lightening Bugs

Obviously, I'm posting this one as if it were the 4th. It was a Thursday in 2002. -D.

 Happy 4th of July. Once again, I didn't bother to go watch fireworks.

I always went when I was younger, but recently such things have started seeming boring and just pointlessly loud.  As a whole, the campus seems to share my new-found blah-ness on the subject, because we don't get a day off classes and nothing special was scheduled. Some people had parties on their own and I know most of the classes did some kind of Independence Day theme. Mine didn't, particularly--I had Herbal Magic, and Kit didn't do anything for the holiday, other than wishing us a happy one.

In the evening, I attended Paleolithic Dinner. I hadn't expected anything holiday-related there--Charlie is hardly patriotic in the typical sense--and indeed I've heard him tell well-wishers that Independence-Day weekend is a time for "enhanced fossil-fuel use for God and Country." Basically, he was just growling again. But at dinner someone asked him why he doesn't watch fireworks and he took the question seriously.

"When I was younger," he said, "I found fireworks very exciting--they overwhelm the senses, create intensity of experience. They still do that, but I'm not interested in being overwhelmed anymore. I'm interested in the things I can only sense when I extend and open myself. I prefer active listening to noise. Anyway, what do loud noises have to do with the founding of this country, anyway? American liberty depends on thinking. You can't think when shells are exploding."

Last year, I heard him recite The Star-spangled Banner as a poem, it evidently is meaningful for him, but as a poem the piece derives its power chiefly through inspiring thought.

Evening was falling when he spoke--we'd long since finished eating--and a lightening bug flew by, right over the table, among us. Charlie watched it and pointed with a flick of one finger.

"See?" he said. "That's what I'm talking about." And we all watched the lightening bug, too, and tried to follow it, and pretty soon we were all running around, chasing lightening bugs. "They don't seem to think we're predators," observed Charlie. "If you put your hand out, they'll land on it. You don't have to actually capture them.

And that's what we did for the rest of the evening--catch-and-release firefly hunting, without even closing our hands over them. We ignored any booms and flashes from the pyrotechnic display over the lake.

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