I got so attached with this poem of Tom Wayman (Canadian poet) when it was first introduced to us by Atty. Roberto Rafael Pulido in our Constitutional Law 1 class. As our assignment, we were instructed to watch a video clip by US Supreme Court Justice Breyer in his speech at a gathering on Environmental Protection Act, compiled by C-Span Videos (www.c-span.org).
The poem is a simplistic yet radical answering approach for those students who missed the (previous) class and ask the professors “Did I Miss Anything?“. There are two answers presented by the poet and it could better be explained by the poem itself.
The student asked, and the professor answered:
Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours
Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent
Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose
Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring the good news to all people
Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?
Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human experience
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been
but it was one place
And you weren’t here
Straightforward and shattering. It reflects the reality of having to miss nothing or everything. It provides an insight how could a simple one instance of absence can change your destiny.