Jack takes us through a series of dreams that lead to a moment of awakening in the next chapter.
ďMeditation is the flowering of understanding.Ē Krishnamurti
Chapter Five Moments of Awakening
Iím driving through the back streets of Columbia with a couple of school administrators. We go past railroad tracks, a junkyard, and the city dump. Iím thinking that Iíve never seen these streets before. One of my passengers says that Mrs. Smothers bought a lot of real estate on this side of Columbia. ďShe bought some for herself and some for the district. She made us a lot of money,Ē he tells us.
We are standing in front of a machine that has hundreds of soda bottles running through it. As they go along the steel conveyor belts you can press the flavor that you like and it squirts into the bottle. I have pressed five different flavors and Iím trying to lift the bottles out of the machine. Anne shouts from the back that she would like a cherry soda. I press the button for cherry. Some of the bottles are not filled to the top. The cherry only has a couple of ounces in it. The bottles have no tops on, and it is very awkward to hold so many. I hurry from the machine looking for a table where I can set the bottles down.
Iím sitting in the Exit Club nursing a beer and waiting for Vickie to finish hers. I see a really good-looking girl sitting all alone and wonder if I should join her. Next thing I know, Iím sitting next to her with a hand between her legs.
Iím on the bottom floor of a two-story building. Smelling smoke, I think the building must be on fire. ďIím going to pull the fire alarm,Ē I shout.
ďYouíd better be sure thereís really a fire,Ē someone shouts back at me.
Rushing up to the second floor I see flames coming out of the attic. I hurry over and pull the alarm. As I pull it, I see Jake, my grandson, lying in bed. His hair is on fire. I grab a blanket and smother the flame. Picking him up I hurry down the stairs wonder if I shouldnít find a hose to douse the fames.
Iím at a school dance. One of the teachers tells me that Iím in charge and have to make the announcement to get the dance started. I go to the center of the floor and raise my hands to quiet the students and parents who are gathered around. ďOur first dance of the year is about to start. I want to remind you all to be on your best behavior, and to be respectful to each other. Also, have a lot of fun. The number of dances that we have this year will depend on your behavior at this one. O.K. letís enjoy,Ē I say feeling very satisfied with the brevity of my speech.
In the back of the room are three students who are playing records. I tell them that if they do a good job at this dance, they will be our D.J.s for the rest of the dances.
Iím at our old apartment on Grand Avenue in Oakland, California. Vickie is in the kitchen pouring herself a glass of wine. I pour a glass and add some Vermouth to it. Iím hoping that she doesnít mind my drinking her wine. Stoke gets up from the front couch as I enter and tells me that heís going to bed. I have another glass of wine and think Iíd better head for home. I canít find my shoes and tell myself that I must have left them outside. I canít remember where I parked my car, but figure it must be close by. Iím thinking that I could walk home, but that it probably isnít safe walking from Broad to Thirteenth Street at this time of night.
I picture our apartment building on Thirteenth and Berks and tell myself that it is still all white. I think that I will be safe if I park right out front, check the streets, and hurry inside. Instead, I lie down on the floor and figure it will be safer to spend the night here.
Iím driving with a number of teachers on Broadway in Oakland, California. We pass a movie house and decide to take in a film. I see that there are no parking spaces and figure Iíll make a right hand turn and find a place to park. I pass up a couple of streets without turning. After I pass the third street, I decide to back up and make the turn. As Iím backing up, I see a motorcycle cop. I stop, put it in first gear and start moving forward. Iím hoping he wonít pull me over for backing up as I watch in the rear view mirror.
Weíre walking up the street that I would have turned on. An old lady is leaning on my arm. The other teachers are moving away from me. I tell the lady that I have to catch up and ask her to let go. She continues to hold on. I pull my arm away and run after the others.
Iím standing in line at the ticket window. The cashier tells me the tickets are twelve dollars. I think thatís a lot of money for a movie as I hand her a ten and four ones. She gives me two dollars change. ďSorry I made it difficult for you to count out the change with the combination of bills that I gave you,Ē I tell her. I walk inside and wonder if I should get some snacks.
I find that my ticket is for the balcony. Upstairs, I see that Mr. Pearson is seated in the lobby with a young girl. I decide not to join him and look for a seat. The balcony seats are very large armchairs. I settle into one and find it very comfortable.
Iím in my old classroom at Monte Vista. Itís the last period of the day and I am scheduled to teach a lesson on the human body. Students are filing into my room from another sixth grade core class. The room is very crowded and the students are restless and noisy. ďAll right letís settle down,Ē I yell at them.
I have an essay that one of my students wrote on the human body in my hand. I intend to write it on the chalkboard, and have the students copy it. I figure I can modify it as I write it on the board. ďAlright. Youíre going to be taking a lot of notes in this class. If you take perfect notes and ask questions and contribute to discussion youíll earn an A. If you take perfect notes and donít contribute to discussions youíll earn a B. Good notes and contribution will earn you a B, and so on down the line. If you donít take any notes youíll earn an F. So, the notes that you take will be the major part of your grade.Ē
The students begin to moan and complain about having to take notes. Several whine that they didnít bring any paper. ďAlright. From now on you bring your own paper to class. Today, Iíll pass out paper to those who donít have it,Ē I say walking to a counter and taking up a handful of newsprint.
ďI ainít gonna write on that cheap paper,Ē a student yells.
ďWhatís your name?Ē I scream at him. He answers with a long name that I canít make out. I grab him out of his seat and drag him to the front of the room. ďWrite your name on the board,Ē I yell and make him sit down of the floor in front of the board.
As I look across the room, I see that half the students still have no paper on their desks. I hand a stack of newsprint to a girl up front and tell her to pass it out. ďRaise your hand if you donít have paper. The period is half over and we havenít even started yet. Tomorrow if you donít bring your own paper Iím going to charge you a dime a sheet for mine!Ē I scream at them.
ďThat paper ainít worth no dime!Ē
ď You canít charge us for paper!Ē
ďIím telling my Mom!í the students cry.
ďShut up and write you names on the paper. If you think a dime a sheet is too much then bring your own paper. Iím not in the business of selling paper!Ē I scream at them my voice quivering with anger.
A boy in the front row turns around and hits the kid behind him. ďWhat the hell are you doing,Ē I scream as I yank the student out of his seat and slap him in the face. The boy swings back at me. I dodge his blow and tell myself, Iíve really gone and done it now. In my mind I picture a lawsuit and suspension of my credential.
Iím subbing in a new district. I walk into my assigned classroom and find that the regular teacher is there. Sheís conducting a lesson with her students in a very relaxed atmosphere. The students are well dressed and very mannerly. I watch from her desk as she lectures in a soft voice and the students take notes. I jot down notes on what is going on. The teacher leaves her students and comes to her desk. She takes a peek at my notes and goes back to her students.
It seems to me that she has given them a reading assignment. I notice one girl in back that is going through her desk. I walk over to her and say, ďArenít you suppose to be reading?Ē
ďOh, thatís O.K. I always give them a little time between lessons to sort things out,Ē the teacher tells me. She points to the door and asks if I would unlock it. I find that the door is open. Another substitute walks in. He goes to the far side of the room and watches the students at work.
The regular classroom teacher is at a large table behind her desk. As I walk toward her, I see two huge cakes on the table. I pick a small piece of paper off one of the cakes. The teacher takes a large walnut off the cake and stuffs it in my mouth. ďWhen one of my kids pick on the desert I make them eat it,Ē she tells me.
ďOh, youíre so mean,Ē I answer chewing on the walnut. ďI take it that this is a training session for me,Ē I add.
ďYes, it is. Have you done any teaching?Ē she asks.
Iím hiking in the area across from the canal in Yardley, PA. Stoke had told me that to survive in the wilderness I have to learn how to catch a rabbit, kill it, and cook it. I trap a rabbit in a box like contraption that Iíve make out of wood. I kill it by stomping on the box, and then cook it over a wood fire. After Iíve eaten the rabbit, I meet Stoke at he top of a large waterfall. He tells me that we ought to swim down the fall on the way home. It is almost sun set. I explain that it will be way too cold to go through the water without any sun to dry us and warm us up.
He tells me there are some real large trout in the water. ďYou have to learn to catch fish using just a line, a hook, and worms that you dig for bait,Ē he says. I have the line and hook and figure I can dig up some worms real quick. I see a park ranger and ask him if I need a license to catch one of the trout in the water below. ďNo, youíre allowed to catch one without a license,Ē he tells me. I hid my line and hook behind a rock and tell myself Iíll come back tomorrow to catch my fish.
Iím reporting to work at the Heinz plant for my first day of the season. Iím thinking that Iím suppose to work at the freight yard loading boxes of canned goods on the freight trains, but when I get there the foreman tells me that my assignment has been change to somewhere in the main building.
I hurry across the yard and get stopped by passing trucks. I climb up on a stopped flatbed thinking to jump off from the other side, but the truck starts up. Lucky for my, it has to slow down for a truck in front and I can leap off the back end before it picks up speed.
At the main building I head for the production line, but one of the foremen stops me. ďYouíre to report to Fred Stringer on the second floor. They say youíre a deep thinker and they want you to help with the planning,Ē he tells me.
I climb a ladder to the second floor thinking that this is going to be a really easy season. I see that I have white pant of my face and that my clothes are all greasy from hopping on and off the trucks. Iím wishing that there were some place where I could clean up. On the second floor, I walk by a group of four or five workers who are making fun of a fellow worker who is French. ďFrance is a beautiful country,Ē I tell her.
Fred Stringer is standing outside his office with a couple company executives. He calls me over and says, ďYouíre a deep thinker. I want you to walk around the plant. Observe whatís going on and report back to me with recommendations on what we can do to improve production.Ē
Great, I tell myself. ďWell, one of the first things we can do is to let a new worker know exactly where he should report for work. I wasted almost an hour trying to find out what my job would be. And if we change a workerís assignment, we should let him know ahead of time. Maybe have a board that lists assignment changesÖ.Ē I tell Fred.
ďSee, I told you heís a deep thinker,Ē Fred tells the others.
Iím with a group of construction workers in an old cabin. We leave the cabin to work at hacking out a dirt road through the wilderness. Another group of workers comes in with pack animals and tries to make it through the tangled forest that we are tramping down to make our road. A camel gets away from the group and comes rushing toward the area that weíre working on. The wild looking animal is right in front of me. My hand ends up in its slimy mouth. The animalís trainer gets it under control and I pull out my hand and find one finger badly swollen.
Back in the cabin, one of the workers puts a make shift splint on the finger. He tells me he doesnít thing itís broken. My finger continues to swell and turns all black. Iím wondering if I shouldnít see a doctor.
Itís the next day and the second construction crew is leaving our area. Theyíre carrying large yellow rafts that they will float down the river to their next destination. One of the workers hands me seven dollars. I figure it must be pay for my damaged finger. ďThatís for the use of your ironing board,Ē he tells me. Iím thinking that Iíd rather be rafting the river with the second crew than hacking brush in this hot wilderness.
Iím driving a beat up truck down a dirt road. There is a red curtain covering the windshield. I know that it has some kind of religious significance. I canít see anything in front of me. Looking out the side window I realize that the road is very narrow and rough. Frightened that I might run off to the side, I pull the curtain open and see a large green combine right on my bumper. I jam on my brakes to keep from hitting it. With a sigh of relief, I continue bouncing down the muddy path.
Iím walking towards a large hanger with a group of fellow teachers. One of the teachers challenges another to a race with their Aircoops. The slick white single engine airplanes taxi toward a runway at top speed. I think that theyíre taking off without clearance from the control tower and will likely cause an accident.
We watch as they gain attitude and race to stay ahead of each other. A Cessna in an approach pattern has to veer off course to avoid being hit. Iím sure one the two of them will end up crashing to the ground.
Iím across the street from my apartment house in Philadelphia. A couple kids and I are playing cops and robbers. One of the cops tells me to put my hands behind my back and snaps on a pair of pretend handcuffs. I take my hand up front to pick up a stone from the street. My friend tells me if I donít keep my hands behind my back he will cuff them up with real handcuffs.
I find a small plant in the gutter. Itís in a tiny white plastic pot. I pick it up and hurry across the street to my house. At the kitchen sink, I add a little water to the dry crumbled dirt. The plant has a few spindly green vines and tiny pink flowers. The dirt and roots are falling out of the pot. I press my thumbs against the dirt and roots to force them deeper into the pot. I place the plant near the kitchen window where rays of sunlight touch the vines and pink flowers. The plant grows two or three times larger with more and more pink flowers. As it grows, the roots and dirt seep out of the pot. Again I press against the dirt to compress it. The plant continues to grow and slips down behind the counter. I have to tug really hard to extract it from the wooden boards. Iím afraid it will tear apart but it continues to grow. I see that the back of the white pot is cracked and that the dirt is leaking out. I press it back, and push the pot against the wooden counter. The plant continues to grow. It is now almost a foot long.
Iím leaving a college coffee house. A young coed and I arrive at the door at the same time. I step back to let her exit. ďBless you,Ē she tells me.
ďDo your blessings work?Ē I ask.
ďI love teachers who grade softly,Ē she returns. I wonder if I should pursue our conversation further, but decide not to as I have to meet some friends who left a few minutes before me.
I start up the street getting into the sights of the college town. Soon Iím so intensely observing the old buildings and people that I forget all about my friends and end up on the outskirts of town where I see several men in Civil War uniforms. I realize that they are reenacting a Civil War battle. I wonder how they will treat me, a civilian, as I stand next to a tree and watch. The soldiers go about their battle completely ignoring me.
A civilian runs up to me and hands me a revolver. ďDo you know how to use it?Ē he asks.
I break the cylinder and spin it. Itís a six-shooter with two bullets in the chambers. I close the cylinder and follow the man toward a row of buildings. A police loud speaker squawks that two men are headed towards the buildings with flashlight pistils. I notice that our pistils give off a beam of light. I lead the way through the door of one of the buildings, through the house and toward the backyard fence. I figure we can jump over the fence and escape the police.
Iím driving to a college class that is being held at a warehouse. As I turn onto the narrow street next to the warehouse, a large maroon car is coming out. I back into a side street so the car can go by. I notice that my car has a set of forklifts attached to the front. I think that it would really damage the maroon car badly if I hit it. The lady behind the wheel motions that she is heading up the side street. I pull out and head for the parking lot.
As I walk toward the warehouse, I see a lot of workmen among the college students that are walking toward the building. Inside, I look for a place to sit. Most of the good seats are already taken. Some have left clipboards and books to hold their place. I find one seat to the left rear and sit down. I notice that a film projector is set up in the middle of the room. Thinking that I will not be able to view the screen from where Iím sitting, I get up to look for another seat.
Iím standing next to a beautiful young girl. As she leads me out the front door of her dorm, she looks at me with a wide smile, and slips a pill between my lips. ďSomething to make you more able to feel the power of love,Ē she tells me.
With you around, I donít need no pill, I tell myself as I swallow the pill. We walk arm in arm down Telegraph Avenue smiling into each otherís face. A friend of the coed walks up and entwines his left arm into her right. ďIf there are three of us walking along together it will seem less suspicious,Ē he tells us. The three of us step down the street swinging our arms together.
Iím standing on the edge of a large estate that Iíve just purchased. Itís right on a large body of water with an inlet that runs right up to the back yard. A coast guard cutter is berthed in the inlet. A government official tells me that I will have full use of the cutter once I learn to operate it. Alex tells the official that I use to have a private pilotís license. The official informs me that as soon as I bring my pilotís license up to date I will be able to use the cutter. ďYea, I got my ticket in a Piper J3 Cub. Iíll have to have a few hours instruction to get back in form,Ē I tell the official.
Iím pruning the estateís orchard with a long handled clipper. I got off several dead branches from one of the trees and think that thereís an enormous amount of work to be done.
Iím in the large front room of our new house. I notice several globs of mud on the new mauve carpet. I look at the bottom of my shoes and see that they are caked with mud. I sit down on a couch and take off my shoes. Stoke and several of his friends are standing around the room. ďWeíre getting the carpet al muddy. Youíll have to take off your shoes,Ē I tell them. Iím telling myself Iíd better clean the mud up before it dries.