Monday, October 04, 2010


I've been thinking about how each person seems to have a signature energy, a value almost numerical in its tangibility, one that is sometimes imperceptible one on one, but becomes clearer in groups. I'm writing in the abstract; one need not fear that I am seeing serial numbers associated with people or anything creepy like that. I'll give a few examples to illustrate my point.

For many years I played in bands of different sorts, stylistically ranging from power-pop to prog rock to fusion with one sad country group marking the low point in the middle. A few of those bands were basically the same band with one member or another switched out. We would always have this idea that when some goof decided to quit to get a job or some other lame excuse we could just bring in so-and-so and carry on as we had. But every time it morphed into something else. It was like a math problem where the sum or product of the group changed when a number was switched out.

I've found the same thing happens in writers' workshops and in the workplace, at family gatherings and in the classroom. The classroom angle is the one I've had most on my mind of late. Teaching for Upward Bound is always an adventure, and seeing how that group of students functions as a whole or broken up into grades is fascinating. Broken up into their classes, the students can be either volatile or apathetic just depending on what combination of students is present. It is not as simple as having a few bad seeds; seeds sprout and wither depending on who is present in the group.

That's what's been on my mind.



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