There are two versions of this post: a short version and a full version. If you want the short version, scroll down to the last paragraph.
Here is the full version:
Earlier, while I lounged and allowed my face to melt from a lack of energy, Sir Coolman's face clouded over my tablet screen. I was not happy to see it, and I pretended as if I'd already been in the process of turning the tablet off.
The TV turned on. The ancient TV I'd unplugged years ago for fear of a fire, but never thrown out, was well-lit. His concerned face stared at me from behind the thick glass that hadn't shown anything for about ten years. "Ok, so you might not get a teaching job this school year. With school closings, you might not even get one this calendar year. Maybe not in the next five years."
"Thanks for making me feel hopeful," I shot back. "You think this is easy for me? I'm the one living it. I'm the one who actually has to feel like the failure here!"
He sighed as he allowed his face to glow with one of his heart-tickling smiles. It looked like it could have been cleverly-disguised resolution. "You know, I never told you, but you really taught me a few things in the time that I have known you."
"Oh, really?" I made a strong point of enhancing my sarcasm with the thickest mellow-drama I could produce. I didn't feel like enduring another of his revelations. I was content with my suffering.
He didn't pick up this hint, and his excitement only increased. "Absolutely! Perhaps the most profound reality of which you have made me aware is this fact: you are not meant to be a paperweight."
Somehow, I was expecting more than that from the wise mind of Sir Coolman. "Really? I'm here feeling like a flounder on the bottom of life's murky little slime-infested pond, and you're telling me I wouldn't make an acceptable version of an object created with the purpose of pairing with gravity to keep things in one place?"
"That's a lovely way of putting it!" he beamed. "You see, for two hundred years, my main task was somewhat similar to what you have just described. I was a dust collector. I sat in the attic of an estate and acted as a magnet for small particles...well, my mirror did, as I'm sure you're aware."
I was aware. But I was also aware that Coolman was really opening up. After years of prodding, he'd never told me about the things that had happened to him while trapped within that mirror. I was touched. But I couldn't let go of my prideful need to appear not to care. "Go on."
"Well, that time was...it was difficult for me. I was somewhere, yet nowhere. I could think, but couldn't speak. I seemed to be constructed mainly of potential energy, but for my ability to think. One particular thing I used to think of was myself."
I laughed. "That sounds about right."
"I don't mean that I would think about myself as an entire being. I'd think of my physical existence. For example, one day, I felt like pointing towards what I thought was something in all the darkness I was trying to comprehend. As with the common act of physically pointing to something, I expected to see my hand, finger outstretched and targeting the physical location of the entity I was trying to sense. But there was no hand there. There was only a thought about a hand, about what had once been there."
Here he paused. He looked pitiful and far away, like a child who has just realized that the joyful promise given by an adult is not going to be kept after all. I'd never seen him that way. He had my attention locked and m pulse elevated before he began speaking again. "And there was its excruciating absence. The absence was too much for me to even attempt consuming as my reality. So I began focusing on what could be there. I started to think about my hand, it's size, where it would hang if I stood, the heaviness it would place on the rest of my body. I began to be aware of what I would experience with the hand if it was actually there. Day and night, I thought about it. After years of doing this, I don't even know how long or exactly when it happened, I realized that my thoughts had solidified into something tangible. They had solidified into a hand."
Because of my personality, I immediately placed myself in his position as he told me his story. I felt the cold, the loss of direction and self. I felt the darkness and the fury of my mind to fight it. It was a feeling of hopelessness and despair. But from the midst of this deep sorrow, the emergence of a particle of self was like a light too bright for human eyes. It was too much. I refocused on Coolman's words. "That hand had been so ingrained into my consciousness that it was. It was just as real as if it had been physically there. I was eventually able to move it at joints that I had imagined. Once I realized that it was there to stay, I realized that I could think up more to my existence than what my senses were telling me. I realized that I could make the reality I was willing to build."
He told me about building his body, the trauma of regenerating his face from memories of his father and mother. He told me of the way he was able to construct a place for his body to exist and later the entire castle. He told me about the joy of details such as the golden pinwheel-shaped doorknobs that lead to the bathrooms, and the hovering carpets that cover the living room floors. I'd seen all of these things throughout the castle every time I'd accepted his invitation. So I wondered, since I could see it, when it had actually been converted into reality. "When did it turn into physically observable entities that could be observed by others. After all, I can see your palace. I can see it, hear the echos of my shoes as I walk through the stone hallways. I can even smell it. So there has to be some point when it began to physically exist."
"It's exists with those same building blocks I first used ages ago. There was no magic spell or powder used to "solidify" anything. But those things were never built within the laws of physics, so their potential to be observed exists beyond the guidelines of physics. You see them because the depth of their reality exceeds beyond physical limits...I am happy to tell you that you possess the same power to create."
"You were not made to be a paperweight. You are a bountiful source of potential energy. I've seen what you have to offer, and it's amazing. The world is already a better place because you're in it; but it's going to be an incredible place if you fulfill your purpose. Yes, you have some issues. So did I. Even though it took me quite a while, I was able to create the reality I wanted. With God on your side, nothing is impossible.
I didn't even care anymore about the tears rolling down my face. "That, is one of the nicest things you've ever said."
He smiled at me, love gushing from his own eyes. "So, I suppose that leaves me with one question: Are you going to sulk, or are you going to rise to the occasion?"
I realize that it's been two full years since I last posted. Think about all that's happened in those two years? Think of how many teachers have come and gone in that time frame, perhaps because they needed some of what I have to give. After thinking, I decided to do something about it.
Here's the short version:
So now, at Sir Coolman's urging, I face this screen and type. Despite years of just sitting here, I am now awake. What lies before me is not an easy task by any means. It's riddled with self-doubt, challenges, and trials. But a new flower bed is riddled with dirt and potential before it blooms. I want to watch my works blossom into a garden of usefulness. Please, will you share this journey with me?