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  • I used to know a man. Droves of young people followed him around.
    If he sat, they'd settle down too. When he got up to leave, they'd leave, a little unsurely, in some direction, a faint tinge of abandonment forming into a lump in the throat.
    Everyone was lighter when he sat himself under a tree, it meant he was going to stay for longer.

    I saw him too. I'd pass his office and he'd ask me a question as I walked by about a film I was working on, I'd garble for words, and before I knew it, I'd have showed him my sorest spot, pretty much hold it in a sea of glorious light for display. I'd end up limply covering my mouth with a hand, just after..the words grinding to a halt. He'd nod and make it scarier by saying something completely in step with where I was with my film, I'd collapse on a chair closeby quietly, listening,... you see,..taking a film through its cycle is usually such an internal-organ-twisting sort of an intimate process for me, you usually have only yourself to echo ideas off. When you have an audience, it is scary. eerie. Like there's someone wandering around in your head.
    These interruptions would get spread out into a conversation which leaned into a tree sometimes. People would trail in. At some point I'd notice the crowd, and wonder how I got to be sitting here, how I'd manage to get away from this collective of people staring at him, or how one did leave, from this comfortable spot under the tree.

    I asked him how he did it once.
    "I can't speak to all of them." he said after awhile.
    "Teaching is like setting yourself standing on a floating square in space. You can take a corner, but the one in front of you, this guy you're trying to talk to, who you can see so clearly, and seems to have so many questions, he needs to stand opposite at the other end to balance the square so it doesn't tip over and we both don't fall. If he takes one step forward, I step forward to balance it out as well.
    It doesn't work any other way. I tell them about it. They know.
    Sometimes they don't want to move, they mean to, but know they won't,.. those ones step away themselves."

    It hit me today. I understood it then. But it kicked back at me today.
    I must go visit that tree we sat under. soon.
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