Exploding Moments—it looks like shattered glass but it’s not.
I was on Aquinas College campus to speak for the Contemporary Writers Series Twentieth Anniversary. In addition, I had only one hour with forty students at Aquinas College for a mini lesson. That old challenge. One hour. Since teaching graduate school I no longer think in one hour segments, only in two-to- four hour teaching segments. I’ve been thinking for days. What can I give them in one hour that will not superfluous? I settle on Exploding Moments, my term for taking a small, formative, life-meaning moment and breaking it into its sensory components.
I pull together a handout and drop in a mysterious black and white image. The image looks like a double explosion. All shattered… bright and sharp. After I introduce myself to the class, I ask them to think of their big moments, the moments in which time stopped or some preconception splintered open. We make a list. We choose one. I explain some rudimentary neuroscience, how the brain needs to be warmed up through sensory recall. From that knowledge, I’ve refined a process called data re-collection to start that process of sensory re- remembering. I help them recall, help them find the likely details. Then they write the moment. Fifteen minutes later they complete the exercise with two sentences. One is: what I understand now. And the other is… Well, you’ll have to invite me for the second explosion. It has to do with that image of the water balloon exploding like shattered glass.