Standing at the photocopier, one of the English teachers was preparing an assessment piece on poetry.
‘I wonder how some of them will react,’ she said. ‘I had a Leaving Certificate student a few years ago who didn’t want to do the exam. Anyway, there was a poem about an orange on the paper, I think it included lines on the texture of the orange’s skin. It was June and I suppose he felt he should be back at home helping with the silage. Anyway, he looked at the paper and looked around and said loudly, ‘What am I doing here? Why am I sat here reading a f***ing poem about a f***ing orange.’ Then he got up and walked out’.
What am I doing here?
Maybe, like the Leaving Certificate student, most people are sometimes left wondering what set of circumstances conspired to leave them in some unexpected place. Who had determined that the assessment of such students as an eighteen year old from a farm in rural Ireland should include a poem on an orange? Who determines why most things should happen?
Maybe everyone has such moments at times. Maybe having a sudden sense of dislocation is more common than people might imagine. Perhaps we just don’t admit it. We certainly don’t swear and then get up and walkout.
In my own case, it would be convenient to suggest that such thoughts are ones which only come from being far from home. There would be reassurance in thinking that a sudden angst comes only from being in a place where loved ones are at a great distance and where there is a sense of being very alone and very vulnerable. However, increasingly that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. More and more, a feeling of dislocation seems to be a part of everyday life.
There seem occasional moments which are played out as if they were scenes from a film, or more likely, from a real life documentary in which little happens. There are moments which are played out like scenes in which I have been looking in from the outside. There is frequently a sense of not being engaged, a feeling of not being in control.
Perhaps it is a coping mechanism. Perhaps dislocation is an evolutionary response to the mundaneness of everyday life. Perhaps a brain that is unattracted by the commonplace things around decides just to disengage. Perhaps there will come a moment of standing up and walking out.