At the end of a work day of working with middle school students, the bravest one in my head covers his face with his hands and begins to cry in my direction. So afraid he is of being seen as lesser by his peers or by the self for his own reasons, he doesn’t realize he is a god and only wants to know things are good, and that even irrational worry can hold water and find its place at the table of everything.

His overcontrolling parents in his head are at the table too, and they’re still fixing the silverware around the student’s plate, fixing the napkin so that it’s just so, and the student is still shaking his head in disbelief and disappointment while they try to school him like this.

He’s like a detective watching camera footage of a crime committed out in the open in broad daylight by criminals with no self-consciousness whatsoever, and who ultimately want to be caught.

At the other end of the table, the laughing end of the table, let us call it, a few of the imaginary student’s friends are laughing at him while he’s crying, yes, he’s still crying, well, holding back tears I mean, and there seems to be no end to the number of seats at this table, as it seems to get bigger the more the student makes a space for all of the people who hurt and betray him. The table is a metaphor for the imaginary student’s expanding consciousness, that’s clear now.

Just as clear is that there are also people at this table who the student thinks highly of and that seem to have it figured out. One is seated at about the middle of the table and is currently trying to reassure himself through the commotion that there is a space for everything, even those ideas and people he disagrees with.

Another one, one closer to the critical, shaming side of the table, which is to say by the well-meaning parents and our imagined student in emotional crisis, is telling himself it’s okay to recognize he can’t be mindful right now, since that’s an invaluable kind of mindfulness too. This spiritual benefactor in particular likes to be close to the real mean ones in the student’s consciousness, because it’s only by being really close to them that he can elicit the greatest healing and radical change.

Just a moment ago the student’s parents picked up the silverware they were placing just perfectly and, baring their teeth and spitting a little, threatened to stab this one if he didn’t stop talking falsehoods to their son, and then sat back down and arranged themselves perfectly in their seats upon realizing they’d lost control and looked like ignorant tyrants.

It’s now he leans in close to our student and says don’t worry about it if you can’t understand the inconsistent conversations right now. It’s more important that you recognize you have a resistance to letting go of your obsession to control, and begin the process of self-transformation and truly educating yourself. Be pleasantly confused. Sit back and watch the show. There’ll be another one to watch on channel self-aggression in a few minutes. Have some pizza. It’s pizza Friday.