My MIC sponsored public school system’s high standards were above me. My only commitment was to attendance; beyond that was beyond me.
Most of my early MIC programming was beyond me; we were barely fed. I was always hungry. The highlight of my early school years was the morning milk and the two cookies we all got, no matter what.
I got the food thing done by fifteen, when I started washing pots and learning from the retired Army chef, Tommy Vincent...who could cook anything, better than anyone I had ever known. By then I was already too far gone to be excellent at anything. I settled for just ok at a lot of things. I really did not have much choice.
I was permitted to wander from shop to shop in high school. I don’t know why...or did not know why. I never thought of myself as exceptional, certainly my grades were far below average, closer to the bottom, actually. I was happier on the estuary than anywhere in school, where my three older siblings were mostly model students and athletes.
I was not a truant, or discipline problem, I was just not interested in the college preparation program, or the vocational program, I was just having a good time before work, in school. They even started giving me a nice lunch, paid for by the state. They even let me in the kitchen, at school. As a matter of fact there was no nook or cranny in that school that I did not see, except from the girls locker room. I even took home economics, cooking...I cooked for a year of high school. I did so much badly that I could have graduated in three years, and had planned to...but didn’t.
I never made a commitment to excellence, it was made for me by others. I resisted with all of my might. The operational goal up the road was Zero Defects. They had a big sign next to the Parkway entrance.
Even the MIC has to eat, and breathe. We agreed on that, and still do; for how long is up for grabs. I’m all for the MIC, but also all for survival, and not getting anyone hurt...except for feelings. I wish feelings did not get hurt. Mine do, but I know the rules. I get over it. Feelings get hurt, they have too. We are sorry...the MIC is sorry if diversity offends you, if science offends you, or if we don’t march to your orders, or take orders...without paperwork, or pay.
The MIC remains committed to excellence, but not me. I remain committed to the estuary, which the MIC used to use for sewage, upstream. The MIC is gone now, and so am I. The osprey and eagles are back, decades after DDT stopped being sprayed all over US.
No one won, and I stopped fighting altogether, like the Tibetans, after I realized strength came through peace, and stepped out of chaos into my own version of Tibet, a nation of one, into my own personal peace, which is not excellent, but the best I can muster after decades of mucking about in the belly of that beast. I don’t fight for peace, I practice peace...I breathe; I’m trying to teach the MIC a thing or two about breath, resilience, and survival.
A successful adaptation began as a defect, maybe. I’m not expert, I never believed in Zero Defects. I was raised on wait and see, outdoors in bad weather. I learned how to measure...angles and distance, tides, wind, temperature...to count trees, fish, birds...But I never made that commitment to excellence which I call ACT5. Nobody there, back home gets it. Ray The One is Raytheon5, five being and always has been E. We all went to the same school, but it was just me who simplified their slogan to ACT5. My own private joke. The farce has four acts, reality escapes them, and the MIC that crafted us from clay, baked us into shapes they designed without our knowledge or consent in four acts. My ACT5 is beyond their spun web, detached...literally off the hook. Ray The One (aka Raytheon5) rode the rickshaw in Hanoi, and worked in the kitchen of the Moulin Rouge, pardon my spelling and French.
Six miles from that hook, the Sandy one, is Coney Island, to the north west is the brandy new Freedom Tower. I’m not going to define excellence, or except as a way to describe Ray’s fried chicken, which he said he cooked himself and put in the KFC bucket. I took his word for it.
The final act, the number, is always Saints marching, and the crowd just joins in, following. ACT5. Listen for the horn, or conch shell, off the hook, floating on melted ice.