He gets up to the podium at the front of the class and asks us,
“What are you?”
“Don’t you mean WHO are you?” One of my classmates asks.
“No,” replied Mr. Paulson*, “What are you?”
A chorus of answers erupts from the classroom.
“I’m a person!” One of my friends exclaims.”I’m a student!” Calls out another. Before long the responses come in such frequency, they turn into white nose.
Mr. Paulson slams a ruler on his podium indicating the request of silence.
“No! No! No! Those are all things. You are not things! You are events!”
We all got quiet. I don’t quite remember where we were in the semester, but I know at this point we were used to our teacher stretching our brains a bit. As our high school Semantics teacher, “Paulson” as we called him, was on a mission to get us to think differently before the world taught us to think the same, or worse, not at all.
“Think about it. You are happening all the time. Even when you think you’re doing nothing, you’re still doing something. You are breathing. You are sitting. You are thinking. You are looking at me asking yourselves, ‘What kind of drugs is this guy on and where can I get some?’ You are doing, and you only stop doing when you die. So instead of treating yourselves like things, treat yourselves like the verbs you are!”
I can’t remember what happened after that, as it’s been a decade since, but that portion of the lecture always stuck with me, and I reference it on a frequent basis. Whenever I am complacent, tired, spent, or feel stagnant or stuck, I remind myself that only objects get stuck and only money gets spent. Events happen to things, but if you are the event, you don’t have to wait for something to happen to you because you are literally always happening.
So keep happening, because only death can stop you.