Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Meeting with the Guru (1999)

At Uni as the 80’s drew to a close I met a man who
Taught me something I’ll never forget

I turned up at a party at a house near campus
Dropped my beers in the bath full of ice
Cracked one open
And went to mingle

Wandering through the familiar pungent smoke I felt slightly out of place

Having worked for a year before going to uni
I was a year or two older
And slightly more cynical
Than most of my peers

But I had a few drinks
Chatted for a while
Stopped for the occasional toke
And listened to whispers of a guest at this party

I heard tell of his genius
Of how enlightened he was
And decided to head for the room where this
Giant was holding court

As I wandered up the hall the smoke
And the alcohol
Got the better of me
I had flashbacks to Apocalypse Now
Felt like I was heading up river to see Kurtz
And I wondered what this meeting would become

I found the room
Joined the people on cushions
Passing joints, listening, asking questions
And talking to the man

He was a wonder to behold this

He looked as though someone in a lab
Had tried to cross a hippy
A surfer
And an American college professor
And had failed
Producing a look that those around me
Members of a generation with no solid identity of its own
Thought was pretty cool

But was basically a 30 year old art student in bad 70’s retro

And I with my budding biology degree
Learning how living things function and interact
Sat talking with this man of letters
This man who had spent 12 years at uni learning


We talked of philosophy
Of literature
Of psychology
We talked of many things as we
Sat in that haze of smoke and alcohol

And he showed me that he knew
A lot about
A lot of

And he blew the minds of those around him as they
On his every word

And I took something from that room that I still think about today

A decade later

As I wonder if somewhere on that campus there’s a
40 year old
Art student impressing
With the things he’s learnt

As I wonder if he remembers our meeting, the
Of uncertainty that crossed his face when I said
I know who you are

Or the smile of relief and satisfaction as he
My explanation that he was the shepherd
And these were his sheep

If he remembers me saying that he’d taught me
And that I must thank him
The glow of self-importance that
Came over him
As he inhaled my thanks

Or the self satisfied grin as he asked
What did I teach you?

But I doubt he remembers my answer

That he’d taught me never to confuse knowledge with intellect

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