“You can’t just walk out of class when another student is talking,” I say.
He laughs and nods. “Okay.”
“And it would be better if you didn’t keep you head down on the desk during class,” I say.
“I’m sick,” he says.
“Then you should be at home.”
“Really. If you’re sick. Go home. But if you’re in class, you need to listen.”
“I am listening.”
“Well, okay. But you don’t look like you’re listening. You look like you’re bored.”
“It is not my fault if I’m sick.”
“Of course it isn’t your fault if you’re sick. I’m saying you need to listen in class.”
“But when you’re head is down, you can’t talk to your classmates.”
“What do you mean classmates?”
“The other students. We were having a conversation in class and you had your head down. I want you to talk to your classmates.”
“Why?” he asks.
“Because it is language class. You have to talk.”
He shakes his head. “No. I don’t want to.”
“What? You have to talk. You’re learning a language.”
“No. If I want to talk, I will talk to my roommate.”
“But I need you to talk to your classmates. You’re part of the class.”
“No. It is not necessary for me.”
“Yes, it is.”
He shakes his head. “It is not necessary.”
“I have 12 years of teaching experience, and I can tell you that if you want to get the most out of my class, you need to talk to other students.”
“Why? Do you not like them?”
“I don’t care about them. I don’t need to talk to them.”
“Then maybe you need a private tutor.”
“No. I can’t do this.”
“If you’re in my class, you have to participate.”
He shakes his head and laughs. ” I’m not talking to them.”
“We’re going to be in class together for 15 weeks. It would be nice if you would talk to your classmates.”
During our next class together, he sits in the back of the room, outside the conversation circle. I make no effort to include him.
Moments like this I think–I could be working on my screenplay. I could be making art. Why am I having this argument?
I come home and stare at the GRE study guide and think about this student. What should I have said? Why did he come thousands of miles to refuse to talk to other people? And why do I feel insulted? I should be writing!
Why can’t I just quit and work on my writing and art? (Oh, yeah. The money.)
Do you let your daily life get in the way of your creative efforts? Do petty arguments disrupt your motivation or trip up your muse? What do you do to put the noise away and let out the inspiration? We’ve all got to figure this out, because the mess isn’t ever going away on its own.
(I posted more pictures of the silver trees because they cheer me up after a rough day, and they remind me what is possible when you give your imagination more power than your distractions.)