Experience is the Best Teacher

December 25, 2010
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He always travels in a pack, whether the pack is (allegedly) his own or not. Craig walks about with a bit of an arched back, his eyes no longer looking directly forward; they are looking down. His house is secluded, his words know no bounds, and he is not exactly a piece of eye candy. He has quite a large knowledge base (at least when it comes to school) and he whenever he’s wrong there is always some reason. There is the classic: “It’s too early for my brain to function;” there is the timeless “I haven’t for like an entire day;” Lastly, there is my personal favorite: “I was just kidding guys, Sheesh.”

Craig walks into a multivariable calculus classroom, but sees that none of the seats have been taken. Instead of sitting down and waiting for a couple minutes or even shluffing his bag onto a desk, he recedes from the room to allow the tide of people to begin arranging itself. My best friend Kyle glides around the corner of the hall, greets me as I walk in the other direction (I have Theology now) and this is the story of one of Kyle’s many battles in war on Craig.

“What are you waiting for? Is there a mine that you want to avoid? You’ve been standing there “texting” or “checking the weather” for the past 5 minutes. Do you plan on going to class or does lying against a wall make feel warm and cuddly inside?”

“I didn’t know I was causing such a bother,” proclaimed Craig, “have I disturbed you by means of the way in which I stand beside a wall?”

“Don’t even get me started on the way you stand, it’s the sad and pitiful nature of why you’re standing outside this classroom that irks me to no end. I couldn’t care less what you’re actually doing. Do you think you’re fooling anyone? You do the same shit every time. You get here extra early because you have nothing better to do in the morning like, I don’t know, sleep? Then you take the scenic route to kill some time, but it utterly fails because you end up at this door before the teacher even does. Finally, once you realize that when you sit down everyone mysteriously gravitates towards the other side of the room, you step out, fiddle with your phone, and wait until either cool people or the Stevenson sisters find their seats. It’s out right pathetic. Do you think you will become friends with them by means of osmosis?”

“Osmosis can only be used when describing the flow of water from one ce-”

“SHUT UP? After everything I just said all you have as a rebuttal is a definition of osmosis? Just sit down somewhere before I fuckin’ blow a gasket.”

Craig leaves the door to get a drink from the fountain and returns to class just in time to grab the last seat. Mr. Altman begins the lecture and that’s when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

“Today, as a warm up, we are going to look at one of Zeno’s paradoxes known as “The Arrow Paradox” wh-

“-Whereby Zeno states that for motion to occur, an object must change the position which it occupies. He gives an example of an arrow in flight. He states that in any one instant of time, for the arrow to be moving it must either move to where it is, or it must move to where it is not. However, it cannot move to where it is not, because this is a single instant, and it cannot move to where it is because it is already there. In other words, in any instant of time there is no motion occurring, because an instant is a snapshot. Therefore, if it cannot move in a single instant it cannot move in any instant, making any motion impossible.”

“Yes, Craig.”

“Mr. Altman?”

“Yes Craig, what have I done wrong now?”

“Nothing. I was merely going to state that Saint Thomas Aquinas offered a solution to the arrow paradox: "Instants are not parts of time, for time is not made up of instants any more than a magnitude is made of points, as we have already proved. Hence it does not follow that a thing is not in motion in a given time, just because it is not in motion in any instant of that time." Another proposed solution is to question one of the assumptions of Zeno used for his paradox, which is that between any two different points in space (or time), there is always another point. Without this assumption there are only a finite number of distances between two points, hence there is no infinite sequence of movements, and the paradox is resolved.

“Well,” humphed Mr. Altman, “I guess that takes care of our warm up. Let’s open our text books to chapter 14.” The class’s eyes roll and the lecture continues.

Midway through the lesson, Craig is summoned to the main office. He walks out through the pouring rain, or at least it seems that way based on the condition of his shirt and the water gliding down his face upon returning. He brings a note up to the front of the room and asks if he can address the class. After glancing over the note, Mr. Altman nods.

Kyle stops talking. My eyes bulge as I signal him to continue. Kyle exhales slowly in a state of contemplation and says, “I was expecting some pretentious speech of absolute arrogance, but it was anything but.” Kyle takes one more large breath and continues, “He informed us that he was sorry and that he was leaving.”

Kyle reaches into his back pocket and takes out a newspaper clipping. “What do I want with the paper?”

“Read it.” Kyle’s eyes sharpened and face tightened. The clipping reads: “Frank and Clara Aaron commit suicide in the alley outside the McBrye tavern on west 84th street. Their son Craig, in honor of his parents, has forsaken his MIT education to serve in the armed forces overseas…”

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