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The End of the End: 2017 Night of the Notables Reflection

A quick word of advice for anyone who may pass this, and hopefully it’s on the day of Night of the Notables: do not expect the night, the experience, the feelings, to be the same as any other! The best way you can embrace whatever is thrown at you is by taking it all in, and realizing that you, along with your fellow TALONS, are truly making history.

With this post being created on November 27, 2017, that will have meant Night of the Notables ended five night ago. We’ve rushed so quickly back into the thick of things that I haven’t had much time to catch my breath, or think about my final Eminent person project. A new novel study was assigned, our physics unit is in full swing, and preparing for the holidays has occupied my brain for the most part.

But when I hear anyone say “Eminent”, I’m thrown right back into Wednesday night, right back into the screaming, high-pitched yells of our 9’s (sorry!) and the anxious recitation of speeches by 10’s as we simultaneously tried to set up our learning centre with endless rolls of masking tape and a little too much nervous energy.

Eminent is over.

I repeat that sentence in my head as I write this. It’s over. IT’S over. It’s OVER. It’s…over? How could it be over? Did it really even happen?

The speech. It was strangely comforting, watching us all pace anxiously backstage, even the most confident speakers be reduced to repetitions of opening lines. Despite spending hours with each other every day, we’re never completely exposed to each other. But as I was also treading around, trying to breathe, I felt us all emanating¬†vulnerability. We were scared, and weren’t really prepared for what would happen on stage, and we were okay with letting each other know that. Soon, though, that vulnerability turned to energy, and it was almost as if when one speech was done the speaker would pass on the energy to the next one, and they would mold the little ball of energy a little bigger, before we were all on our feet, desperate to burst on stage and share our final bows as one group as Nathan (sorry, Jony Ive), delivered his final lines.

As for my own speech, I had been waiting ever since I first saw my own sister stand in the library where the speeches used to be held at nine years ago. As I stepped quietly on to the stage, ready to close act one, I felt strangely calm. My incessantly quick heartbeat slowed, and the prose which I had so painstakingly written out came easily, and naturally to me. But it was over far too quickly, and I was to pass off the baton into someone else’s outstretched hands.

The learning centre. I somehow felt like a 9 again! I found so much unbridled joy in repeating nearly the exact same information to the dozens of people who passed by my station. Everyone seemed so genuinely interested in what I had done, flattered me about my speech, and cared about why I put so much effort into this project.

Some thank you’s are long overdue here:

  1. My family. Iris, who spent far too much time instructing me on exactly what the best Eminent speech looked like, Louise, who seems to be more of a Shostakovich expert than I am, my dad, for essentially giving me a crash course on woodworking, and my mom, for telling me to sleep.
  2. Kevin Bazzana. Our friendship began last year when I interviewed him about Glenn Gould. Throughout the project, he answered my panicked queries about who Shostakovich really was, who he supported, and what the point of it all was with the calm, heady attitude of a scholar, and helped debunk many myths surrounding my EP.
  3. All my interviewees, for giving me insight into literally every aspect of Shostakovich.
  4. Stephen Hurley, who helped an immense amount with the livestream. You can find him at voiced.ca
  5. Everyone in TALONS, for the nervous energy, for the “ENERGY!”, and for the energy in the closing circle.
  6. Mr. Morris. You did it! You made it!

It’s over, it’s been over for five days, and it’ll never happen again. Of course, this tradition that seems almost as old as time itself will continue on; learners will make bigger, more extravagant learning centres to accompany their eloquent speeches, and I’ll return to Gleneagle Secondary on a Wednesday night in November to watch it all unfold again in less than 365 days.

But this, this reincarnation of Eminent is over, to be locked away in the annals of TALONS history. This is the edition that marked the start of a new teacher’s leadership (and he did extremely well, FYI), and the end of another. It was breathtaking, exhilarating, full of anxious faces filled with tension, then happy smiles, as all TALONS events are guaranteed to produce.

And I also guess this is goodbye to you too, Mr. Shostakovich. There is still so much I don’t know about you. But does that even matter? You opened your door wide open for me two months ago, and I rummaged around the endless amount of books, articles, and photographs like a kid in a candy store (who did get sick from all of the reading every so often). Thank you, for your music, for your determination, and a life well lived. I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand what you had to go through in your life, but at least now I know that in times of torture, fear, and hopelessness, music will always prevail.

To whoever reads this: do something that makes you feel what I felt on November 22, 2017: the feeling of craziness, extreme panic, total isolation, complete companionship, and the dream of wanting to do it all over again in a heartbeat.

And ultimately, whether it was the learning centre or speech, getting lost in the joy of creating something, someone that I love..

So long, Eminent Person project.

Until…

*As for the questions I set out to answer for myself at the start of the project: I scribbled down shorthand answers throughout my project, whether it be during research, interviews, or at 12 AM in my bed. Should I be given a chance in Socials to edit and synthesize them (seeing as a few of my questions were very broad, and could easily tie into the BC Curriculum), they will be posted!

2 Responses to The End of the End: 2017 Night of the Notables Reflection

  1. Talonsalumna says:

    Even reading this short (ish) blog post, I can hear your unique voice – a voice with eloquent intellect and well-seasoned approachability, and delightful meta-awareness. Thanks to Mr. Shosti, TALONS, the interviewees, and all the others, for giving you a reason and a place to grow.
    Proud of you, bro.
    PS – Thanks Mr. Hurley, for bringing the speeches across the strait and beyond!

    • lucas says:

      Hey, dude – I had your reflection post open on a tab beside my draft pretty much all of today! They should give you a prize or something: “One of the ten people who listened to this stream”.

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