When the universe was being born, nothing was everywhere existent except for a minute corner of the infinite void, where everything was waiting to expand. This material genesis occurred when that tiny corner of everything, surrounded by the unimaginable extent of nothing, achieved the critical temperature necessary to fuel the expansion of everything into the realm of nothing. As everything expanded the realm of nothingness receded.
Billions of years later, entering the teaching profession, at the tender age of twenty-one, I deflected my students' repeated requests to "study nothing in my class" into personal attacks on me. "My lectures must be boring them to death," I thought, but my tender ego met their requests with a series of progressively drier lectures on something. Five years of teaching would pass before I gained the confidence to risk everything to achieve an understanding of nothing. Eventually, "Do Nothing Well" became the maxim that would direct my career.
My "real" teaching began in the sixth year of my employment. The preceding summer considerable time and effort was devoted to the development of a rigorous curriculum emphasizing the depth of nothing. As September approached my enthusiasm surged, I simply burned to do nothing. Phase I called for a search for the essence of "nothingness," and consistent with philosophical tradition the class split into the two groups. The first group contended that "nothing could not be fully comprehended within the limits imposed by human mind." The second group supported the notion that" we could find something of nothing in everything."
Engrossed in the preparation of the blueprints for our explorations of many different disciplines we failed to take note of the school board's decision to investigate our program. While we established study groups, community fiscal conservatives gathered to lobby the Board of Education to cut wasteful spending programs. Epistemology, ethics, ontology, cosmology and logic became the locus of our studies and at the same time, the school leadership was reviewing our budgets. The district's leadership decided to hold a public meeting to deal with why the study of nothing consumed so much of everything. The press caught wind of the issue and a media circus ensued. Even the tabloid television shows heralded "Much Ado About Nothing."
My students arrived at the meeting carry placards that read "Nothing has Value!" At the moment of their arrival an angry crowd of taxpayers jeered them. That evening, the district filed for a tenure/dismissal hearing with the State Education Department.
At the hearing the district's attorney presented his bill of particulars.
I was charged with:
1. Corruption of minors seeking the moral.
2. Willful neglect of duty-doing nothing.
5. Moral turpitude.
Despite my impassioned pleas that nothing was going on in the best interests of my students, the panel voted for dismissal.
I entered some of the darkest days of my life. Thoughts of ending my suffering occupied my mind. Was this to be the beginning of the end of my journey? As fate would have it, nothing came to my rescue. A wealthy investor offered to anonymously underwrite a foundation for the study of nothing and associated problems. I was born anew and this project symbolized the end of the beginning of my journey. I could now devote my life to Nothing et. al.
Glenn Hameroff was a high school social studies teacher for 28 years. Advancing Parkinson's disease and a computer combined to encourage his attempts to write.
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