Thursday, May 8, 2008

where the answer is

today was my last day of classes as a uw-madison student. i have to admit that i spent much of the day misty-eyed.

my lovely and weepy day was sparked by my vietnam class, which is by far the best class i have taken. ever. it's a two professor class, one is on the panel for the rock n' roll hall of fame and the other is a vietnam vet. after a lengthy discussion on civic responsibility and the war in iraq, the vietnam vet, doug, told us that a story his vietnamese friend told him during the war. he said it reminded him of our class and what we are capable of. here it is, paraphrased, of course:

when i asked my vietnamese friend how i could help end the war and make a better future, this is what he told me:

there once was a wise man who knew the answer to everything. and because he knew everything, he was king. it was said that anyone who could stump him would take over his rule as king. for years and years, many people had tried, but no one had take over the king's rule. finally, a new man came to town knowing he could be the one to stump the king and rule over the land.

so, the man takes a lizard up the hill to the king's palace. he puts the lizard behind his back and asks the king "is the lizard behind my back alive or dead?" this was an impossible question! for if the king said "dead," the man would present the licking lizard to him. if the king said "alive," the man would break the lizard's neck behind his back and then present the dead lizard to the him.

but of course the wise king knew this. and all he said was "the answer is in your hands."

to this story, our other professor, craig starts openly crying, which of course makes doug cry, too. the two have a strong hug in front of our whole class before trying to speak to us, but neither of them can catch their breath enough to speak. this then makes every single one of us students cry. seriously, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. we end the final minute before the bell with ccr's "who will stop the rain?" which was really so perfect because a large theme in the class is how music can become the emblem of a moment. i will never hear that song again and not only think of craig and doug, but also of everything they taught me, which is a lot. it was a really beautiful moment that led to a really beautiful day.

i'm off to the madison review release party! the opening band is called "zombie sunday," which will then be followed by lezabel, a duo of lesbian djs. and we're getting free neon sunglasses. it's gonna be a good night.


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