Simple Machines

Simple Machines

I graduated from high school many years ago. Today I was contacted by a man who student-taught in my 11th grade art class. He attached a photograph of a piece of art I had completed under his instruction. I remember the piece well (a still life completed without lifting the pencil) and him only vaguely. He told me I was the only student in the class to “nail” the assignment, that he had my work in his teaching portfolio and was currently undertaking a recording of his teaching philosophy, reflecting on the successes and failures of his lessons. The contact came through MySpace, where the ease of instant communication has created a norm of this type of contact, for better or worse.

Even still, the communication made me curious. That this man remembered me and my work and that the passing years had not diminished the brief encounter as it had for me… what else was I doing without my knowledge, what else had my vaporous memory provoked? People interacting with each other are like unstable elements. Timing, chance and other such fickle variables forming our bonds often unknowingly, grinding our imprints to other people’s important parts, or not so important parts. We’re changing each other permanently (like chemical equations). And I don’t mean romantically, but in a very utilitarian sense. It is fascinating to me.

So what else was I doing? Who else was I helping write their teaching philosophy? I’d like to hold a meeting of my shareholders. I’d like to get a printed inventory every month. We’re all feeding each other somehow. Some for a flash and in passing, others slowly building influence over years of deduction and from distant places and others still from their inability to be sorted and filed in recesses, like acid flashbacks. This man, the student teacher, had me stored as an explanation to his teaching, preserved for his own practical purposes. We use each other like pulleys and levers. The union of our intended uses, the marriage of mutual necessity fits you where I need you. In my hands, their response to texture and temperature, infused in my touch. In my head to soothe or stir, to create. The me you like or dislike may be another person, our experiences, the pattern it left or altered.