Friday, November 12, 2010
In the University of the West Indies library, I overhear an exchange between what must be a teacher and student in the psychiatry stacks. The student says, “I wish I wasn't struggling so much with it”--something like that, I haven't tuned into the conversation yet; the teacher responds, “Through struggle you learn, so struggle is a good thing.” Kind of rapid fire, as if this is part of his professor patter, but at the same time he really means it. And then they say something else while I'm fussing with my computer cord and by that point they've moved a yard away and I hear the teacher say, “Manhood isn't something you're born with or given. You earn it. And this is how you earn it.” And the student says, “Thank you. I'll do my best tomorrow.” And he walks away standing a little bit taller, I could swear it, and I think I can see his shoulders square. I'm pretty sure they're talking about a test that the student has to take tomorrow, but they've ended up affirming what seems like a beautiful principle. I realize I've never actually heard anyone talk like this. And it makes me want to ask them, What is manhood? And is there any way that I could earn some, too?