Today I travel into my 20th year of teaching, learning, and sharing at City College of San Francisco. This is not simply my job; this is my life. This semester, like all past semesters, we will share some life, even though it is in a virtual world.
Back then, I was in the middle of my first year in law school at U.C. Hastings. I got the call two days before the semester started at City that there were a couple of open classes available for me to teach. I jumped on it, so was studying fifteen units of law, teaching six units of English composition, running for the BART trains, getting ready for Margarita to be born in a couple of weeks, and hustling, hustling down to the bone.
Vida Loca then, Vida Loca now, Vida Loca forever!
Why Write? Consciousness and Courage (Part 3 of 7)
I am not here to argue to you that writing will bring you any solution to anything. My personal belief, as you already know, is that words are spider symbols and can never substitute for total truth, whatever that exactly is, that make-believe concept that we believe leads us to consciousness. Feeling matters most is something that I have been preaching for a decade now. There are things beyond my words and understanding, and it may be that being too invested in words or ideals keeps me away from me and all that is most sublime, which is feeling.
You all know what I’m talking about: you have felt the sun rise and sun set; you have prayed in torture and danced with the moon. You know; I do not know for you, but you know what you have felt and what you feel, and I will not insult your intelligence arguing that words mean more than the nothing without words.
But, at the same time…
These words are what we have, and we are in the middle of this life and death struggle because we invented the curse words of life and death, so we might as well deal with the language that is inside us and throw it back up so we could see what we have eaten.
Look into your stomach if you dare.
Look into your mind if you desire.
Write a simple line then read your own mind.
That is the crux of consciousness.
A dozen years ago, at a party in Berkeley, author and World War II combat veteran Leo Litwak told me, as if it were some magical secret, that reading is the key to consciousness. He was about 85 years old at the time and he has now since passed on. After all those years on this earth, he believed that enough to tell it to me before he died. If his belief is at least somewhat valid, then to read your own words back to yourself is the key to your consciousness. This alone is a very good reason for why you should write.
Just remember, however, that consciousness is an invented spider symbol, so never take yourself too seriously because the words are only a part of who you are.
Feeling matters most.
The most intense feelings I have ever experienced are connected to amor, all kinds of different amor—familial, companionate, romantic, humanistic love. For me, writing has helped me understand myself and become conscious in many different ways and feel in a different way than without words.
I want to understand, and I share so that I can spread understanding that can help someone else, a Loved One, a perfect stranger, myself. Without all of my previous feelings and writings, I would not be able to share as much as I am sharing with you now.
Consciousness can help you see yourself and everything else, and with that you gain the possibility and opportunity for your own personal courage. No one can tell you what consciousness is, and there is no formula that will get you there. It is up to you to find your own consciousness. Writing is simply one way you can learn to see what you really think and feel.
It is not very difficult: shut up, sit down, write your mind on a piece of paper, and be brave enough to look at yourself.