Electric Dirt

by Nic Olson

The lights are out and I have no intention of turning them back on.

It is difficult teaching high school students about electricity. It is like trying to turn on a lightbulb when you know it is burnt out. Resistance is measured in ohms (Ω) and in how many days late their lessons are (Ls/DL). Potential Difference (voltage) is measured in Volts (V) and Time Spent Thinking About Failing Exams (t/FE).

Between the compliment that I’d make a good teacher and that I should go into an Education program, and a veteran teacher, Mr. Leclair, picking gum off the bottom of tables saying in clear sarcasm that he ‘loves students’, I walked without a hat in the pissing rain continuing the education debate that will never end until I die. More importantly I was instantly inventing phrases that would eventually compliment these ideas about electricity. But then, with the distraction of teaching, I forgot them all.

At one in the morning, I entered my room to a crack and a flash. When it happens, you always wonder if you flip the lightswitch too hard or with too much conviction, or how a the filament of an old incandescent bulb could really just blow like that. (Power = Energy/time) So, each day for the next two weeks, when natural light ceases to exist after 9pm, I plan to sit in the dark of my room with only the light of the street spilling past my curtain. And I will avoid going to the effort of buying a compact fluorescent bulb and straining my body on my tippy toes to screw it back in its socket simply to bring light back in the room. Often, the pop of a lightbulb is faster than the process of turning it back on. It is not always simply the flip of a switch.

I sat down to attempt at recollecting my brilliant metaphoric hypotheses that just an hour earlier shone like beams of light in my darkly shadowed mind. So without internet, with the laptop luminescence dimmed to none, I sat in the dark to allow the thoughts to resurface. Nothing lit up. I needed milk(soy), bread(discount), beer(favourite), and red pepper(staple) so I left my cave towards the market to allow the streets, doubly bright from the reflection off of the rain soaked streets, to inspire. They succeeded in coaxing out the ideas. The electrons flow, the circuit is closed. The pop of a bulb can bring about inspiration just as quickly as a constant and steady techno beat from your roommates room can suffocate creation.

So I have something new to write on the Exam Study sheet for the graduating science class that I tutor: Just as Current is inversely proportional to Resistance, Ideas are inversely proportional to Distractions. And just as quickly as comprehension flashes on, it can be lost with the pop and the flash of it dying out.  If I teach them that, then I don’t care if they fail and don’t graduate high school.
Because I love students too.

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