A genial scientist was holding forth in Mashashimuet’s parking lot one recent Sunday morning after a softball game and I stayed to listen to the interesting things he had to say about education, about the damage some tests can do, pigeonholing many of us before we begin to take flight.
In the end, if I heard him correctly, he was saying that it’s up to us, to our inner drive, not to school ties or pedagogical assessments, as to whether we straighten up and fly right.
I told him I’d read several of his books, though not, admittedly, with full-fledged comprehension: I couldn’t even, I said by way of explanation, figure out how to fold the unfolded beach chair
I was carrying, which I’d brought with me to the Hamptons Adult Hardball league’s final. The universe was fun, he said encouragingly.
It was, I think, the first time in a while that I, a card-carrying member of the chattering class, had simply shut up and listened for any length of time, and it was delightful.
Later, before getting into my car — parked far enough away in the lot so that it wouldn’t be hit by a foul ball — I, infused with can-do attitude, and taking care, as the late Stuart Vorpahl advised, to “observe,” gave the confounding beach chair another try.
And, lo, after some coaxing, it smoothly came together again, magically, I would say, for, as I said later to Mary, I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d got it done. It had been the same with her, she said. It’s pretty much that way with anything we own nowadays — press enough buttons and it will happen.
But when it comes to things of the spirit, I should remember to shut up and listen.