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Almost Flippantly


The point of this chapter could be related to a compliment jazz musicians give after an improvised solo they admire: “You were really going somewhere.”

In many kinds of endeavor, the freedom to improvise, the exhilaration of making it up as you go along, gets value from arrival. That arrival becomes a manifestation of purpose—purpose likely not formulated or even conscious until the destination reveals it: the goal, the emotion, the healing, the revelation discovered at the end of an apparent wandering or craziness or play.

For some people, sometimes, the mere play or craziness can be enough. Roaming around in the imagination like you might in a landscape has its charms. But in Mark Halliday’s “The Students,” what feels like an absent-minded or sociable wandering becomes a path to insight. The charm leads to an enlarged vision.