I once heard someone refer to the mind of a certain writer as a “surprise mind”, and since then I’ve often used the phrase in thinking of my students and me as we make our way through the capricious ups-and-downs of English class. In a full forty-eight minute class, who can tell how many thoughts run through our minds and out into the conversation, and who can say that these thoughts are anything but surprising, even sometimes startling? We can’t plan our thoughts, any more than the wind plans its swirls and puffs. We like to pretend that we know what our next thought will be and where it comes from, but the truth is that our thoughts are as unforeseen as the next drifting breeze. I sometimes think of Cervantes’ hero, Don Quixote, who let his horse lead the way and surprise him, just as our weird and wonderful thoughts lead the way during English class. They’re like horses, these thoughts of ours, and if we trust them enough, they’ll take us to sudden and sometimes astounding places.
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