Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Just make sure you're not sedating Van Gogh."-Dalai Grandma

A response to Dalai Grandma's most recent post on Vincent Van Gogh:

They tried to medicate me, too. I was 8 yrs old. I don't talk about it much. Held me back in kindergarten, and I failed 4th and 8th grade, but they said hey- military or construction? And filed us off to various little alcove rooms where kids with severe "issues" were kept.

Then I snuck into college, plopped into teaching, and was asked to do the same thing to little kids a lot like me. In 4 years, I never sent any student outside of my classroom. Some left on their own accord, kicking and screaming, but most settled. It was beautiful.

This came up yesterday in our crew meeting. We had to write something that no one would ever guess about us: I was held back in kindergarten, I failed 4th grade with Mrs. Sexton, and I failed 8th grade English with Mrs. Answeeni. They didn't hold me back because I was already in sped classes, so who cared?

Is this what is called a past life? Feels remote, feels like a dream. I used to be embarrassed, and then as a teacher I saw how quickly those decisions about students are made- maybe you don't know-but it's only seconds, between classes, maybe on a 5 minute lunch break. They ask you to initial papers, and they some kid's path is altered while his parents are asleep at the wheel.

Thank god for books and trees and concrete blocks and zazen- these things let me know I wasn't retarded.


  1. I haven't heard the word "sped" in over a decade.... :/

    Thank god for teachers like you.

  2. Reading Van Gogh's life, which paralleled mine, my past is less remote to me. I told a friend today a bit of it, about a hospitalization, which may have shocked him, but he didn't show it. It is hard to revisit all that suffering. I don't think I could do it if I weren't a meditator, and couldn't turn off that remembering mind. Some. Thank you for this. The more of us come out, the better for those who are still caught in these awful systems. You did good.

  3. Here's a note - if you select to moderate your comments, you'll know when they come in. (I wouldn't want my words to be lost.)

  4. Loved this....really loved this. Sometimes I feel I've led more than one past life.

    "Thank god for books and trees and concrete blocks and zazen- these things let me know I wasn't retarded."

    So damn true.