I was a teacher once.
I even taught an ex-diplomat, an amazing man who had been Canadian High Commissioner to India, Pakistan, and Hong Kong. I’ve seen a photo in his home of him standing next to the Indian Prime Minister, in full diplomatic regalia. He was a personal friend of Michael Gorbachev, but that’s another story.
Towards the end of a course, as the examination approached, I would often trot out an old saying from the seventies TV show Kung Fu. “Grasshopper,” I would say, holding whatever came to hand for the purpose, “when you can snatch the pebble from my hand it is time for you to leave.”
When I was young watching the show I thought that the reference was to speed of reflexes in whipping the pebble out of the old guy’s hand before he could shut it, but when I was teaching people how to drive tractor-trailers I realized the metaphorical meaning.
“Do you think I’m ready?” I was frequently asked, and I’d pull out the pebble.
“Listen buddy,” I’d explain, “I already know how to drive. For a week or two now I’ve been teaching you. Your test is coming up. I cannot drive it for you. When you decide in your heart that YOU know how to drive, then you will pass the test. That means stop doing what I’ve told you to do and just drive.”
My last post I wrote on the pedestalizing of books, saying Xenon and I had lost our veneration for them. It was a bit of a goad to all the blogospheric book-lovers, but there was a kernel of Truth buried there as well. And at the heart of it was the ole Kung Fu saying, “GraceHoper, when you can snatch the pebble from my hand….”
But of course, being the Omphalos Cafe I’ve transposed the James Joycean ‘Gracehoper’ for the Aesopean ‘grasshopper.’ For more on GraceHopers, you could do worse than read my posts ‘GRACEHOPERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!’ and ‘Hail To GraceHopers, Past And Present,’ under the category ‘James Joyce.’
The world doesn’t need more books. We are being buried beneath them as it is. What the world needs is more GraceHopers, more men and women who have apprenticed themselves to past Giants Of The Spirit who’s works are contained in the music, painting, sculpture, and the words in books, and once the apprenticeship is done are ready to toss aside all works from the past and stand up and sing their own unique, precious song alongside those Giants.
Venerate books, love them to death, but when the time comes throw them overboard in order to stand up and be heard! Be the Hero! Be the Giant!
In that sense the Omphalos Cafe is GraceHoper Academy.
Not exactly for everyone, but for some….
Ok, there’s rotting meat crying out to be picked up. Time I ready for work.