Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Best Thing

The Unschooling Blog Carnival theme for October is "The Best Thing" with a clarification(?) of "What does that mean in a house full of Unschoolers?"

Kram "The Best Thing"

Well, hell!, Sue, why don't you give us something difficult to discuss like the Pioneer anomaly. Oh wait, I forgot. That has been satisfactorily explained. Finally. Phew! Don't ask me about the nonNewtonian perturbations of Mercury's orbit and what that means for our understanding of gravity. Oy! Classical (Newtonian) physics is just sooooo 16th century but quantum physics just ain't very intuitive. It does have lots of cool concepts, however: gravitational lensing, strange attractors, wiggly spacetime. Man!, I admit I do so love the phrase "wiggly spacetime." And then, it was Einstein himself who described quantum entanglement as "spooky action at a distance." Nonetheless, let's talk about the best thing. Evah! For Unschoolers. I'm ridiculously giddy that you capitalized "unschoolers." It seems so... German, which implies (somehow) that it's very scientific. Thanks, Sue! Let's begin.

LOVE is the best thing.

There, I'm done. That was quick and easy. See y'all next month for a new and exciting carnival theme. Now, I believe adult beverages, man food, and Monday Night Football are calling my name. Yes. Yes, they are. I can hear them distinctly. Faintly at the start but growing louder with each passing moment. The call of Cthulhu? Ha! That raggedy-ass old demon, from whatever nighted quantum he inhabits which is as dark and cold as infinite, crepuscular, Helium-liquefying interstellar space smothering a tortured plain whose surface is constantly scoured by the shrieking twins, Boreas and Aquilo, and dotted with sickly, glowing fungi of contorted shapes and configurations repellent to the human eye and disturbing to the psyche, a place where the blasted landscape is occasionally punctuated by foetid fens of stygian gloom and mephitic effluvium, gathering darkness to themselves like a cloak in a seemingly purposeful attempt to conceal the awful purity of their flagitious existence, can't be heard over the cheers of the home-team fans. Besides, I'm pretty sure that "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn." means "Are you ready for some football?"

Yes, I'm pretty sure of it. Really. I know the elders among you, O Gentle Readers, remember that it was an alcohol-sodden (Is this modifier actually necessary? Wasn't Don always pickled?) Dandy Don Meredith singing "Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over" which drove Cthulhu and all of the ancient old ones back to their chthonic realm while driving Howard Cosell to distraction. Which is pretty similar when you think about it. And, c'mon! Howard Cosell was clearly a relative of Cthulhu. Kissin' cousins, for sure.

Ewww! What an image. Now I need some mental bleach. And mental floss. Lots and lots of mental floss. To quote Guy from Galaxy Quest, "Oh! That's just not right."

Speaking of love, which was supposed to be my topic and to which I've returned with the mention of Guy's discomfort at seeing interspecies love being expressed between Fred and Laliari in her natural state, our philosophical forebears, the Classical Greeks, divided love into four types: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. Fred and Laliari are clearly expressing eros. I'm a big fan of eros and could write about it all day. I've certainly dedicated more than a few words to it in past posts on this blog. Anyone who knows me, knows of my fondness for HDS and its potential-mile-high-club variant HPDS! (wink) But that's only one type of love out of four (in the Classical Greek lexicon, which is not the only one we humans subscribe to, others have more, or fewer types of love) and it's one which is not even the most common or most appropriate to this post, if we're talking about love in a houseful of unschoolers. Or even a house full of Unschoolers.

So we're essentially talking about agape here, broadening and thinning toward philia as we expand outside the immediacy of our own home and hearth into our broader unschooling tribal connections. But for a discussion about a homeful of unschoolers and their very best thing, let's concentrate on agape. As Byron (George Gordon, Lord Byron) wrote in his poem Maid of Athens, Ere We Part:

Zoe mou, sas agapo!

"My life, I love you!" Agape love. Well, that's the word he chose to use. I won't say it was chosen only because it's easier to rhyme than various verb forms of eros but, well...

For the purposes of this blogpost, we'll ignore the fact that Byron was inspired to create this poem by his love (yes, I suspect more eros than agape but I'm a cynical person) for three sisters who were all under 15 and we'll just abstract it to a generic comment about existence. Isn't that what unschooling is all about, learning how to love your own life and live it so fully that maybe it even spills over to other lives? Yes, you're right. It's what everybody's life should be about, not just unschoolers' lives. When people complain about difficulties in their unschooling lives, my friend Mary Gold always says, "It's not the unschooling." When it comes to love and life, everyone should have the opportunity to fully engage. But I'm writing about unschoolers, so we'll stick to that narrow focus for the sake of this post even though I feel that this discussion should be applicable to everyone.

Alexander Pope, the king of the English couplet, in his poem An Essay on Criticism exhorted us:

A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:

The Pierian spring is the font of all knowledge and it inspires all those who drink from it. Why would you sip from it when it's possible to drink your fill? And yet, if you consider it an analog of life, many people do just that. Sad. My suspicion is that those people have had their exuberance for life and their thirst for knowledge impoverished because their wellspring of self-love has been drained from them by external forces. Without the will to embrace life from a core of love, one is reduced to a state of passive existence, joyless, flat, and depressing. Love is the engine which powers our lives. Without it, we're just a rusting, empty shell on blocks, a redneck's front-yard objet d'art.

No. Not for me. Not for anyone. An empty, hollow hulk is so dolorous. I want my agape engine in place and running. I want a powerful agape engine and I wanna run it WFO (that's Wide Fucking Open for you nongearheads) toward the edge of the universe and grab the life I'm living with both hands and shovel it into my experience receptors as quickly and as fully as I can!

Now, that's what I'm talking about! Looks like love incarnate to me. [N.B. This is a Lotus Elise. Chloe wants one of these in factory-provided krypton green. I'm not sure she has enough $$ saved up quite yet.]

Each and every one of us is unique. There are things I like and activities I want to pursue. There are beliefs I espouse and philosophies I want to explore. There's an entire spectrum of stuff peculiar to me and there's a separate spectrum which is peculiar to you. But the specifics are unimportant in an overall sense, even though they're your particular fixation. Love is what makes all of it possible. Love is the engine which powers our journey, whatever and wherever that journey may be, whether you want to go to the corner at the end of your block or to the end of the universe.

Love yourself. It's where all love begins. It's the root without which the plant which is your life cannot grow and your flowers cannot bloom.

Love your family. Help them establish their own rich, strong, healthy root and watch their flowers explode in a profusion of magnificence.

Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing. Love is the best thing.


  1. I love this post, and I absolutely adore the ending!

  2. Thanks, Sue. I've enjoyed participating in the carnival.

  3. Wow, now there's a post to get your teeth into! Way to go to explode my brain late at night, think I'll have to mull this one over and pop back when I'm a bit more awake.

  4. Hi,

    You're welcome back any time and I'm always interested in peoples' thoughts/comments, especially when they differ from my own.

  5. This post is so freaking awesome - seriously. What else matters more than Love? Nothing.

    Not grades or accolades or money or A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. ----

    Thank you for putting this out here in the interwebs - you've made the world a better place for it <3

  6. Thanks for your lovely comment. See ya on Facebook!

  7. Awesome post. I admit to recently waking from a period of time consisting of passive existence. You perfectly put into words how I want my kids and I to get back to living and loving life. =D

  8. Sheena,

    Thanks for saying that. I wish you and your kids a wonderful period of living large!