I don’t do much community service work, but I do often have a feeling of “giving back” when I’m teaching. I’m not sure where it all came from or why it keeps flowing forward to me, but I have been on the receiving end, over sixty-nine years, of a free-flowing river of gifts. In each of the numberless waking moments of my life, I have been given the gift of astonishing thoughts and feelings. I know now that I don’t make these thoughts and feelings, but rather they unfold of their own accord and cascade toward me in a timeless manner. Just sitting here now, holding my hands to the keyboard, countless ideas from somewhere show me what words to type. Since all these inner gifts have been so freely given to me, I take pleasure, as I’m teaching, in freely re-giving them to my students. They’re not mine to keep and care for; they belong to the limitless universe of thoughts and feelings, and sending them straight on to my students seems like the instinctive next step. I sometimes picture myself as a strange kind of Santa Claus, coming to class with a big bag of inspirations which came my way by some mysterious and magical good fortune, and which I distribute among my students with the satisfaction of an old man making merry.
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