Call me modernist if you wish, but I really don’t know how to inhabit life without my own personal interests, memories, and desires, all working together to create my perception. Yesterday my daughter wrote, You love luck. She’s a perceptive one, but that is hardly a secret. I am obsessed with lucky objects, from a penny found on the road to any number of things that seem to ignite good fortune. I am equally obsessed with avoiding bad luck or drifting into that storyline. Not like I play the lottery, but if I am able to wrap up my work day with enough time to enjoy the outdoors under a moving canopy, I consider my fortune to be worthwhile. This week I’ve had a string of days with such luck. Hiking, running, biking and even a woods walk, all skirted between rain bursts.

My AP Literature students are navigating To the Lighthouse, and following the threads and landmarks that Woolf has left for her readers. She leaves many in my opinion. But she is also turning us through the labyrinth of individual viewpoints, the complexity of relationship, and the anchors we all feel from our childhoods. This level of subjectivity is as deep as it is wide, so we hold on to every surety we can, and at times let the fluidity run us with abandon along her stream of consciousness, in and out of these characters. Fear and hope and creativity and doubt and longing and love rolled out over and over. It takes an alert mind to read into this world, but along the way, it is often you that you discover and is a voyage worth taking.

With my English 9 students, I ask them to discuss literature with out the handy ‘I Statements’ they are fond of, and this takes some getting used to. To write with surety they must avoid the standard tag, ‘I think’. Just know, I tell them. Trust that inner critic and read with your own subjectivity. Allow that to guide you into the fictional world being created by the author, and know it to be one of many possibilities. Just like real life. Not the stereotypes you see on TV or in many movies, but in the real people surrounding you; those who love you and still get mad; those who aggravate you and yet you admire them. With all their unique mood shifts and oddities. Write because you already know.

Today there is fire in the trees, catching my attention even when the sky is steel gray and oppressively close. Tomorrow will bring another hue, and another, and then the wind will blow for days and weeks until this whole state is back to black and white. Change is coming. I wish the geese would stay but I know they can’t. Their call reverberates through our shared world until once again I am alone on the road, eyes upward, carrying everything.


2 thoughts on “Subjectivity

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