So I went to speak to a class of cute second-graders the other day (of course I’m kidding, second-graders are not cute) to see if they had any questions I could answer that might help them navigate through life better, or at least elementary school. Plus, I heard that guest-speakers get free cookies and milk. I like cookies.
A little girl in the back, with red hair and freckles, raises her hand and asks about world peace. I tell her to please quit being difficult and are there any other, more serious questions. She pouts and I assume a victorious posture.
“Next,” I say.
A short kid in the front row shoots up his hand. Now when I say this boy was short, we have to remember that second-graders aren’t all that tall to begin with, but this kid needed a forklift to reach his baby desk. I think he was sitting in a booster seat. Being the kindhearted person I am, I naturally call on the little guy. “Shoot, Shrimp,” I say. The teacher scowls at me and I scowl back. I know I’ve got a captive audience so I move on.
“What’s the meaning of life?” the short kid wants to know.
“Ah, the meaning of life, grasshopper,” I say, assuming my most serious Mr. Miyagi look.
“The meaning of life is to find bliss.”
“What about world peace and better health care,” the little red-head in the back shouts out. I ignore her and continue.
“When we are happy inside, full of joy and gratitude, we attract wonderful things into our lives, like nice people, more cookies, and parents who forget to block the porn on cable.” The kids clap and the teacher shakes her head no. Maybe she hasn’t taught them about gratitude? Never mind her, I was on a roll.
“There will be challenges in life. Mean people, late bills, and cats that puke in your slippers.” They all seemed to relate, so I continue. “The point is that every playground has a bully, every electric company has a collection department, and well, kids, every cat will eventually puke in your slippers.”
A solemn mood falls over the class. Even the pushy teacher looks utterly speechless. I felt like I was really getting through to them. You know, reaching them where they lived.
“What does cat puke have to do with the meaning of life?” asked a smart aleck kid in the third row (I know ‘cause I counted the rows before I started. I like to know my audience size).
“If you’re going to be a heckler, I’ll have to ask you to leave,” I tell the kid. I shoot the teacher a disgusted look. She looks equally disgusted so I am sure she must have warned the little scoundrels not to harass the speaker with redundant questions.
“Like I was saying, the meaning of life is to be happy, follow your bliss and find joy.” I glare at the kids in the back row, daring them to challenge me. They seem to understand who’s in charge, and say nothing, so I continue. “I’m not going to get all into quantum physics and explain the law of attraction, and heaven forbid,” I say, putting my hand over my mouth in a mocking way, “that I mention the Bible and get in all sorts of State versus Church trouble.” The short kid laughs and I think he really gets me.
“But just trust me when I say that your thoughts and emotions are very powerful tools that not only help you attain higher states of consciousness…” I am then interrupted by a little girl in pigtails (didn’t those go out of style in like the 80’s?).
“Yes?” I ask, trying to not be rude, but letting her know she interrupted me none the less.
“What’s higher consciousness?” I glance at the teacher to see if I should even take the time to respond to such a ridiculous question. The teacher must think it’s a ridiculous question, too, because she’s still nodding her head in disbelief. Unless she’s one of those people who says there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Of course there is, silly teacher.
“Well, let’s just say instead, that you feel a sense of peace. You know, happy with all that is.”
The little girl still looks perplexed and so I offer, “That feeling you get when your parents leave you with a babysitter who talks on her cell phone all night….” I notice an immediate shift in the room as all the kids seem to understand exactly what I’m talking about, but then I lose them when I add, “and a fully stocked bar.”
“In closing, I just want you all to remember for the rest of your lives that the happier you feel, the nicer you are to other people, and more you forgive everyone—including yourself, the better your life will be. Thank you for listening. Now where are the cookies?”
Based on their clapping, I think they really understood my point. Unless it was the recess bell that excited them?
Anyway, my work here is done. Carry on.