Bird Droppings December 18, 2009
Sometimes we need to clean our ears
Kind of sort of gross to ponder ear wax and all, but I was thinking more symbolically as I sat here this quiet cold morning. So often in life we hear within our own perception and really do not hear what is actually being said. We formulate and postulate the answers and comments from others before they even finish so we can respond or get on our way. Time is always a factor please speak faster I need to be so and so in a minute. Sometimes we need to listen more careful and unbiased not letting our own perceptions color what is being said, a difficult task in the least. Sometimes we need to let a person finish what is being said and focus on the heart of the matter.
Just about every day Kenna would come by my room at the high school to talk about what was troubling her or to tell me about her successes as well. Somewhere on my wall of photos is a picture from when she was in ninth grade smiling and happy. I have seen Kenna cry and giggle and about every emotion that we as humans are capable of. I considered Kenna a dear friend. I received several calls while in class at Georgia Southern and felt I needed to call and find out what was going on. My son informed me Kenna had been killed in a car wreck. It had only been a week since I received a call about my sons and a car wreck in South Georgia. They were banged up, bruised but ok. That first moment is something as a parent you never want to hear.
I last talked to Kenna about going to college and she told me about plans for an apartment and was so excited just prior to her graduation. I borrow from Carlos Castaneda periodically and he writes often of choosing the path of the heart, Kenna was about heart, ask those who knew her. Carlos Castaneda in his journeys through the series of books discusses as he learns the ancient ways of a warrior. Some will say he fictionalized his mentor Don Juan, a Yagui Medicine man but his words of seeking heart are so true.
“A warrior must learn to make every act count, since he is going to be here in this world for only a short while, in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.” Carlos Castaneda, 20th century mystic and Toltec warrior, Journey to Ixtlan
As I read so many years ago Carlos learned to not be limited by his own perception and to try and understand the other persons view of what was here. As I teach so often we limit our responses to our view as a teacher never taking into account the students and how they see this reality. Maybe Kenna came to talk and often listen because I tried to see her view not just mine. When I read this passage from Castaneda I thought of how teenagers live life so often. “A warrior must learn to make every act count”, few of us live this way. I only knew Kenna ever so briefly but I do think she tried to make every moment of her life, literally every act count. One of my last glimpses of Kenna was from behind a camera lens. I was taking photos at graduation and was grabbed on the arm “come on Mr. Bird”. Kenna took me from person to person getting me to take pictures one a time with her friends.
Many times we as parents see only our window on life and not our children’s. Speaking as a teacher and parent there are sixteen hours of another world a child lives in we do not see. It is in those minutes much of what happens in our eight hours of school is scripted by, arguments with boyfriends/girlfriends, fights with parents, drugs, drinking, and not all is bad. There are children who are deeply loved and who have parents who are concerned about them but we see only the reflections and we respond with our own biases and perception of that world. So many times we are wrong.
Today is the last day of a semester and still there are children who are not heard and may never be heard. I will do what I can as I walk through the doors of the high school and today I will try and do my best to hear unbiased and as carefully as I can. We adults need to clean out our ears listen more attentively as to why is this student or child upset, acting out and seeking attention. Could be we heard but our ears were plugged. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts and please keep also the friends and families of all in your thoughts this holiday season.