Being human

Bird Droppings May 21, 2010
Being human

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mother Teresa

Such a simple opportunity for us as humans and we have been given that with recent events around the world, wars, floods, typhoons, oil spills and even just here at home families losing houses and jobs. We live in a time when we have plenty often so much more than we need and so many are without. I have been watching news stories where entertainers offer a million dollars here and there I am sure Mother Theresa would smile at that but I am also sure that those of us who only have a dollar to give would garner just as big of smile from this great humanitarian in her time.

“Abandon wrongdoing. It can be done. If there were no likelihood, I would not ask you to do it. But since it is possible and since it brings blessing and happiness, I do ask of you: abandon wrongdoing. Cultivate doing good. It can be done. If it brought deprivation and sorrow, I would not ask you to do it. But since it brings blessing and happiness, I do ask of you: cultivate doing good.” Anguttara Nikaya

I was taking photos of new construction at our school many months ago and as I walked out noticed a plowed spot that had been simply a barren piece of ground. It was being cultivated for our Agriculture program. Years ago we moved to a piece of land where over many years nature had reduced the land to patches between kudzu and over growth. We spent the better part of two years clearing debris and scrub. Where there was a few acres of cleared land we had pasture and trees growing. I did allow hedge rows and areas for quail and wildlife. We definitely did not use a clear cut operation as we went. However as we cleared we found old cars, tractors and old buildings covered in kudzu and had them removed. As human beings we need to cultivate our own lives.

“Self-discipline motivated by concern for others: this has been the standard of conduct which I have attempted to reach.” Roger Barnes

Such a simple thought yet so very deep.

“So I vowed to keep myself alive, but only if I would never use me again for just me — each one of us is born of two, and we really belong to each other. I vowed to do my own thinking, instead of trying to accommodate everyone else’ opinion, credo’s and theories. I vowed to apply my inventory of experiences to the solving of problems that affect everyone aboard planet Earth.” Buckminster Fuller

This is a big IF ONLY. What if each of us adhered to Buckminster Fuller’s adage?

“The charities that soothe and heal and bless are scattered at the feet of man like flowers.” William Wordsworth

Often I have used the illustration of translations and perception with a simple word from The New Testament, agape. In Greek agape translates as a supreme love, a love of Gods. Eros, philos and agape are in Greek each differing aspects of love. When translating the bible in the early days of the Church of England the word agape was translated as charity. As I read Wordsworth it struck me is not our highest form of love that which we can show towards another with at no time a desire for return, a totally one way love a giving and in so many ways charity.

“Man is harder than rock and more fragile than an egg.” Yugoslav Proverb

“That in man which cannot be domesticated is not his evil but his goodness.” Antonio Porchia

“Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.” Albert Camus

Is it that we are? Is it what we are? Is it why we are that causes the difficulties? I have watched the most callous person cry and an adorable little girl veer into a banshee at the drop of a hat. I have observed human kind in its depravity and in its charity. One day that has stuck with me was walking through the prison ward of a mental hospital back nearly thirty five years ago. There were bold yellow lines separated us from them. But the stares from the inmates went to the marrow of our bones. These were men who had killed raped and pillaged society and were deemed to be far too sick mentally to stand trial or were for some reason sentenced to this place. E of these men started as a fragile baby and at some time each was innocent.

“A human being: an ingenious assembly of portable plumbing.” Christopher Morley

“The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has not any similarity to ours.” Bertrand Russell

“Ocean: A body of water occupying two-thirds of a world made for man – who has no gills.” Ambrose Bierce

“Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.” Turkish Proverb

Pieces of a puzzle thrown in a box jumbled, mixed up, swished around and then scattered about has such a similarity to the human condition. We search and search and slowly unravel and discover each piece each facet and as we slowly regain our understanding. We find we are little more than when we started, if all we are looking for is the destination. If we are looking at the journey than each piece each nuance, each piece has significance, reason and purpose.

“Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, and then steps in it.” John Steinbeck

We are the varmint, the trap and the bait I find that interesting. Can we change this? Can we escape this inevitable circular motion that is self perpetuating?

“In nature a repulsive caterpillar turns into a lovely butterfly. But with humans it is the other way around: a lovely butterfly turns into a repulsive caterpillar.” Anton Chekhov

As I sit here having pondered and wandered this morning and ending on a riddle of sorts I wonder. I do believe we do escape even though rarely. We can regain that butterfly. We can make our way back and not fall victim to our own bait and trap. We can answer the questions and solve the mysteries if we try. We can walk unimpeded midst the yellow lines and stare back. We can if we choose too. What it takes is if we choose to feed that one instead of waiting to feed a hundred rather than never feeding any at all. If we choose to keep in our thoughts those who need our understanding and giving things change. If we choose to look beyond the caterpillar and see the butterfly in others we see differently. We do have a choice, please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.

THank you

Bird Droppings May 20, 2010
Thank You

So often we forget to say thank you. I have often said we are surprised by nature be it using such descriptive words as coincidence or synchronicity as events unfold. I was heading out to walk the dog and a great starry sky was directly in my path. What was so funny is earlier this morning when I went outside with my dog I did not see it maybe I should be thankful the brilliant sky did not wake the dog up more so I did get a good nights sleep.

“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” H.U. Westermayer

So often a simple thank you is all that is needed. No great platitudes and or award just a word actually two words will suffice.

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” Jean Baptiste Massieu, translated from French

A muscle about the size of a fist and I find it interesting within our comparison we draw using what is so often an illustration of anger to an instrument more often of love.

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart

Eckhart, scholar and theologian offers in simplicity his view on gratitude how crucial to life itself. Yesterday evening just as I sat down to a plate of spaghetti the door bell rang. It was a census taker. Since we have a PO Box for mailing we never received a census form. I wonder if we have been a part of the census for the past thirty years since I have never really answered census questions before. I wonder how many others get missed. While I was asked questions one of which was “do you mind if I indicate white in the race box? To which I responded my father is one eighth Delaware and my kids are roughly a quarter Cherokee. “Well” he said “and then you are Native American.” I did not argue with him. My point as I read Eckert’s thought was that in Native American culture it was common place to offer thanks prior to picking that medicinal herb from the earth or killing that deer to feed the family. Survival was a process of giving thanks. Something we have forgotten.

“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” John E. Southard

When I first read this I wondered how you get even with someone who has helped you that is a difficult proposition. The more I thought it seemed to be that we make it so. Because it is rather simple we get even by responding with gratitude.

“Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton

“For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything thy goodness sends.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

My dear friend Ralph, I find his words often lend to a morning meanderings. I would wager my high school English teacher would not believe that the person I would most want to meet is RWE. She probably would not believe I even knew who he was let alone borrow from his work nearly daily. Emerson found meaning and gratitude in all about him and more so in his pupil Thoreau.

“Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.” Jackie Windspear

With every family gathering we say grace before we eat the same words each time. “Bless this meat that we shall eat the bread that we will break may all our actions be kind and sweet we ask in his name sake”. For nearly sixty plus years I was raised on that and isn’t it interesting as I look at the words while more so from ritual that understanding may all our actions be kind and sweet. It is about example and modeling which in life are such powerful tools.

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” W.T. Purkiser

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Thornton Wilder

When we open our hearts and truly see the amazing and how changes occur and how vibrant life can be.

“There is not a more pleasing exercise of the mind than gratitude. It is accompanied with such an inward satisfaction that the duty is sufficiently rewarded by the performance.” Joseph Addison

A difficult task in a world filled with compensation and “what’s in it for me”. I wonder how those original Pilgrim seven graves per hut would respond to that or to “how much is my take” that we hear daily or “what do I need to do to pass”, which is my favorite.

“Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.” Estonian Proverb
As in so many aspects of life we need to start with the smallest most minuscule aspect and respond with thanks

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” Eric Hoffer, Reflections On The Human Condition

Why is it so hard for us as humans to be thankful? We so quickly turn our backs and walk away. We so quickly choose to go another direction to avoid saying thank you and we so often forget. Eric Hoffer was the common man’s philosopher, a great thinker from humble surroundings and he held such itinerant jobs as a dock worker and miner among them. He read and thought. Many academias never will accomplish what he did midst his strenuous life among people. As I read his thoughts this morning I found myself thinking for how many weeks have I suffered under my issues at hand and not looked at those many blessings about me. We tend to hide under our rocks instead of climbing on top and basking in the sun. Even my bearded dragon lizard Spike at school knows to do that. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

The depths of our soul

Bird Droppings May 19, 2010
The depth of our souls

I received an email from a dear friend some time ago after I Had written about humor in one of my Bird Droppings and it truly made me think and as I pondered for several days before I responded and it scares me how we can make jest of our dark side often to a point of distain or callousness in regards to our humanity.

Dear Bird,
How about the humor of John Stewart and S. Colbert? Does anyone ever think that some incidents are too sensitive or horrendous to allow for satire or humor?

My response was along these lines. I have an issue with humor that plays to our dark sides, perhaps even primitive aspects of who we are. Movies like Jack Ass and the humor portrayed, Stewart and Colbert are mild compared to South Park for example as perhaps that dark aspect in entertainment. Colbert is on a higher intellectual plane than South Park to some extent. The audiences thrive on it sadly enough and I think it is this aspect of humanity that allows the atrocities of man to happen as well. I remember once in Sixth grade a girl in special education who lived in the worst part of the community not even public housing shacks along the river outside town. The joke was calling people names derived from that community and or specific people that lived there. I look back and I know I probably did this as well yet maybe it is my karma to be making up for my part. I still cringe when I hear the word retard even more so than the n-word having been directly involved in Special Education for so long. I am reading on Foucault currently and much of his base in his writing is focused on mental institutions and “normal” versus “abnormal” and I wonder as I read and see, watching American Idol and how judges be little people and some who are special needs. What a sad state our society is in.

“Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.” Aristotle

Looking back having been in the education of special needs kids when discussing with other teachers who have been in similar situations we will joke about events and students of the past. Not at a students expense as much as the moment and ourselves for example being bitten or changing a really nasty diaper. Often common place in some settings are humorous when we look back. One of my favorite over the years was an OCD student who once asked me 54 times if he could hold our class room pet Stevie the wonder snake a ball python. I am the world’s greatest planned ignorer; I ignored him and was working at my computer. This was before school and a general education student who did not have the capacity for patience and or ignoring that I do final blurted out to the young man “I love you” and tapped him on the shoulder. He took off to farthest corner in the room. She then asked me did I not hear him and I said I use planned ignoring and really did not after three or four times. I still have contact with this OCD student and he is in twenties and not in school and literally unemployable. When our previous principal took over six years ago he was so terrified from middle school of this man he couldn’t be in the same building so he sits at home and watches TV. His disability keeps him from working and leading a “normal” life.

“Humor is also a way of saying something serious.” T. S. Eliot

As I think and wonder maybe it is seeing the issues at hand and simply using as a medium for truth for opening eyes as I look at some of the dark humor of our time. But I do not see people viewing that way, I see people watching a movie or show and laughing at often human frailty, human aspects and at other human beings. Over the past weeks I have written several papers dealing with the search for the human soul. An aspect that Jung, Hillman, and Moore all psychologists and authors write extensively on.

“Education must ensure that not only the material but the inward life of the individual be developed. Education should address not the isolated intellect, as the advocates of standards suggest it ought, but the hopes and dreams of the self of which intellect the complex reflective self is merely a part.” Allan Block

We get so caught up in testing, pretesting, predictor testing and testing of testing we lose sight of which children really are and could be. I have used the term funneling in regards to education as an example. By forcing as much as possible into a bottle through a funnel much will over flow. It is often these aspects of individuality and context for example that get left behind.

“Piercing through the illusions of modern life is extremely difficult, given a culture where advertising and other media forms are organized so persistently to produce mass public deception” D. G. Smith

Smith, points to an ongoing issue we have in finding who we are and why, the illusions of modern life.

“Obliterate the lines between fact and fiction” D. G. Smith

We live in a society where deception is part of life. We listen to politicians tell us what we want to hear and or think we want to hear and we follow blindly. Why do we have to win a war “divisively”? Why do we even ….. ? I was very frustrated listening and knowing how much was based on deception on lies and yet billed as we have to keep going what ever it takes. As we slowly lose our humanity.

“Maybe this is the time to embark collectively on a new long journey inward, not for the purpose simply of celebrating our personal or collective subjectivities, but for the more noble one of laying down the outward things that enslave us.” D. G. Smith
This inner look is mentioned often as psychologists and theologians struggle with the concept of who we are.

“We need to know more of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself” Carl G. Jung

Is it in uncovering our past and memories that provide us with a part of looking at who we are? The idea that soul or spirit is just confined to religion can be seen in the understanding of what constitutes that inner search. A word used often as a search word is faith and is explained in Dr. James Fowler’s book The Development of Faith published in 1981.

“Faith is not always religious in its content or context. To ask these questions of oneself does not necessarily mean to elicit answers about religious commitment or belief. Faith is a persons or groups way of moving into the force field of life.” Dr. James Fowler

The search and looking within trying to understand who we are trying to find our soul is a part of who we are. It is what makes us human and drives in how we interact with the existing world and how we perceive that world.

“The subjective side of spirit is nature, matter and human life. But this subjective side that moves through us is unconscious” Dr. Marla Morris –

Spirit is then who we are subjectively?

“Somewhere between reality and fantasy, between need and want, between the affect and the idea, and between dependency and autonomy, there can emerge the material from which the subject spins a life” Deborah Britzman –

We end in metaphysical subjectivity as to what is this entity of spirit and or soul? Deciphering the concept of soul which too often is tied to a religious connotation is challenging. Thomas Moore, a student of James Hillman, a former priest and now psychologist and counselor defines the concept of soul.

“Soul is not a thing, but a quality or dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with the depth value, relatedness, heart, and personal substance. I do not use the word here as an object of religious belief or something to do with immortality. When we say someone has soul we know what we mean.” Thomas Moore

“Renaissance philosophers often said that it is the soul that makes us human. We can turn around and note that is when we are most human we have the greatest access to soul” Thomas Moore

Mary Aswell Doll in the introduction to her book Like letters in running Water, includes in her thoughts her interdisciplinary studies with religion and psychology that help probe the inner workings of soul. It is only through coming to terms with inner understanding that we can address outer concerns. It takes inner looks to stir and fire up the imagination and to build and develop ideas and expand learning.

“To talk about the “soul”, we might as well say inner life of children. My latest book Education and the soul talks about Soul in a moral sense, which is really taken out of a religious sense” Jack Miller

It is that inner being of who are that is our soul. Is it soul that we are leaving behind in our effort to be the ultimate consumer to produce children who can test and test well and take another test and do well. Children who will listen without questioning the deceit of politicians and advertising and buy products they do not need and support wars not needed and politicians who are not needed. There are so many thoughts to ponder but in my ending today as I have for nearly ten years please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Try and Care

Bird Droppings May 18, 2010
Try and Care

With school nearly over for the summer it is like years past over the past few weeks numerous former students come by and visit my room. Many times as kids get home from college, former students and non-students who would spend time in my class room over the years holding Stevie the wonder snake or asking questions about various animals in my room stop by to check on favorite animals or ask me to take pictures of their weddings and or babies. Two days ago a little girl now a mom and future pre-med student came by. I recall a few days before a former model in New York City now studying to be a bakery chef emailed and as I sit and think how powerful are we as teachers. Whether a student accepts what we say or not we are a direct influence on students.
Do we impact them positively or negatively is a big question I ask daily as I carry on and get students to think and ponder. I wonder do they learn or simply take up space.

“The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein

I have used this quote in several presentations in graduate school and recently a similar line was used by a presenter to the entire teaching staff of the county. We do have a very powerful impact on children and many teachers do not realize past the moment of their teaching of that wonderful lesson. I often refer to my own children and impact teachers have made on them as I talk with kids. One teacher in particular who is a good friend who all three of my sons have had and each would say she is one of best teachers they have had and one of the hardest. It could be because thinking was required and thinking was needed often not requested just implied and you would do it because of the teacher and the teacher’s example and attitude. But this teacher also knows that tomorrow this student will be in another classroom and with another teacher and maybe will be a father or mother and teaching their own children. Our jobs do not end with the bells as so many teachers think.

“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” Mother Teresa

It is difficult for me to even imagine the ability to do what Mother Teresa did day after day. She would walk the streets of India dealing with poverty and human suffering we of our comfortable world can barely imagine. She asks to light a light in the hearts of people and I try and compare and feel like a match struck barely casting a spark.

“No matter what age you are, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning.” Barbara De Angelis

“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.” Ethel Percy Andrus

As I look at my day and my effort to try and emulate some of humanities great givers I realize I am here now in this moment and that other person was there at that moment and for now even if only a spark a minimum of light, it is light and it is shining and what I can do now within the context of where I am is what is so important. My morning is spent before class in the hall literally talking to students often students who are walking down the hall just simply being there. I interject questions, how you and such are and often more times than not make some smart remark, I wonder if they are still grouchy today. Yesterday my friend who wasn’t speaking too me, I followed down the hall directly behind her with comments like some people just are annoying they stop talking to other people for no apparent reason anyhow after about fifteen feet of annoying remarks she turned around cracking up and said ok I will talk to you. Later in the day I think a well of holding back spilled out. Have you ever tried to listen to a kid with ADHD try and explain why they were mad at you and all that has happened in a week in fifteen seconds or less, hypersonic listening is required.

“It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep; they suppose that it is they themselves and what they identify with themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be.” James Baldwin

“It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.” Richard Braunstein

Always as I read Mother Teresa’s comments the “L” word comes up time and time again, love. In teaching so often it is difficult to use that word, even parents find it hard to tell their children. I have heard many times the line “My children know I love them even if I do not tell them”.

“The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one to others.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” Flora Edwards

It amazes me how people do not see how love and giving are really selfish. When you love and when you give it is nearly always returned and the circle is complete. I know this is an under statement and Love and giving are not selfish by any means but it is so true that this circular motion occurs, it may be simply the feeling of doing good. It has been a few months since I did a poster for school about the relief fund one of the classes had started, a feeling of good will, of love while these kids will never witness any effect as to what they do here in our town collecting money for a relief fund actually does, there is satisfaction and pride in the effort.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran

“He who obtains has little. He who scatters has much.” Lao-Tzu

I have been a visitor in schools where teachers wall them selves up in their rooms opening the door for class and lectures then close the door, open the door, and maintain this assembly line routine throughout the day. They never once have true contact with a student. They take roll and call names. I did that the other day started calling names and said we have been required to call roll and students must raise your hand and say present. After about two or three students actually did it one pipes up, “Mr. Bird but you know we are here” and there in lies the difference. Some teachers are so engrossed in not knowing their students they never know they are there. Many choose not to give for a fear of caring.
I called a home many months ago and spoke to a dad if I can call him that. He was pleasant and polite. I asked about his daughter who is a ninth grader. According to him she was with friends for the weekend and he had told her she was responsible for her ride to and from a town about thirty miles distant. In an average car at say 20 miles per gallon that is about four or five gallons maybe six gallons of gas and if careful we can get gas for $2.85 so it is then maybe $10.00 in gas. It seems she could not get a ride back and he told her he could not afford to come get her. Perhaps my comprehension was a bit off as I spoke with him. If one of my children went out of town for the weekend and was unable to get home, I would have found ten or twenty dollars in gas or found a way to get them home. My reason for calling was due to her attendance. A few weeks later that student quit on her sixteenth birthday and left home.

“A handful of pine-seed will cover mountains with the green majesty of forests. I too will set my face to the wind and throw my handful of seed on high.” Fiona Macleod

“We must give more in order to get more; it is the generous giving of ourselves that produce the generous harvest.” Orison Swett Marden

“In Giving, a man receives more than he gives; and the more is in proportion to the worth of the thing given.” George McDonald

I was looking through old photos from back in the day and found several of some friends from Auburn Alabama. These photos go back nearly twenty five years. The young man in the photos used to work for me when he was in college. I jokingly recalled as I talked to his wife after I spontaneously called after looking at the pictures meeting his wife’s father, seems my friend was hiding in our stock trailer at a livestock show. Her daddy did not want her seeing him and he was looking for the young fellow. Amazing how time is, they are now business partners. A small side note, they lost a baby several years ago and since have had two healthy boys and the third pregnancy was going fine, nearly full term when the little girl was stillborn. No cause could be found in the autopsy and as I talked with my friends wife she offered that in her heart it was meant to be there was a reason and she may never know. It had taken two years but they were having another baby and you know everyday I end with remembering those in harms way. In harms way is a big term. That little baby is doing great and I still keep them in my daily thoughts these are special folks.

“If we want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” Mother Teresa

“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?” Mother Teresa

“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.” Mother Teresa

Today make an effort to truly know your students, your children, your friends, your family and those you meet. Please keep all in harms way on your minds and in your hearts.

PS: A reminder since I really like this quote – “The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein

Dropping an eagle feather

Bird Droppings May 17, 2010
Dropping an eagle feather

So often I find that in events and happenings of my life there is a tie to and or connection to not only the past and present but often to the future. It was only a few days ago I received a call from a friend of nearly forty years. We have touched base on occasion, the death of my brother over fifteen years ago and the death of my father three years ago. But even on my many trips to Oklahoma somehow I was always to busy to stop in or find my friend. It has been an interesting journey.
In 1973 I shared a house with two other fellows. One of them was a student from Mercer who was Afro- American, the other a Native American and me a white Anglo Saxon student at Mercer. Other than living together we also worked downstairs in the Macon day care center. It was an interesting time considering we had the kids of The Allman Brothers band and each morning the limos would pull up with these young hippie moms and well it was just interesting at the time.
My black friend went on to pharmacy school and I lost track a few years later. My Native American friend was of the Creek nation and his grandfather had been the medicine man to the nation in Oklahoma. My friend had been raised in his grandfather’s household never speaking English till he started school. I recall one night watching him sitting beading which was his hobby and his stress release. He was beading a feather and sure enough it turned out to be an eagle feather. He handled it with utmost care carefully stitching deer skin around the base so he could add the beadwork. This feather was to be a present for his mother. Only Native Americans are allowed to own or possess eagle feathers by federal law. Many years later he gave my father a similar one which became one of my father’s proudest possessions.
I have enjoyed the country feel of our house and being able to dream again. For nearly two years previous to moving in any dreams were short, broken up by motorcycles and trucks plying our road all hours of the night and sleeping all night was near impossible as our dogs would wake every time someone was walking down the street. So for nearly two years we slept in one or two hour increments and maybe three if we were lucky. Since our move I have actually enjoyed sleeping for six or eight hours – I did not think that was possible for quite some time. So last night as I slept I dreamed.
In my dream I was traveling in Pennsylvania heading towards Hopewell Lake. Years ago I did a paper for a history class on Hopewell Village, a colonial times iron foundry where cannons and such were made in the revolutionary war. It is now a tourist spot and state park. I am not sure why I was heading there but along the way I stopped at an old house that appeared deserted and as I stepped out over my head two eagles were circling and they landed over me in the trees. I stared in amazement. I have seen eagles in the wild but never quite this close. After several minutes they flew off but the larger of the two flipped a wing and a feather dropped towards me. I picked it up and headed on. Dreams according to Jung are meaningful and as I thought about this I wondered of its significance and the fact I have for so long a period I had not dreamed.

“Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.” Anis Nin

Perhaps there is significance to dreams as many scholars and wise men and women say. Dreams have to have basis in our realities as did mine with Hopewell Village.
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” Carl G. Jung

Maybe it is our so often rush to go another or differing direction that keeps us from remembering or understanding our dreams. Back in the day in most Native American tribes for boys and girls that first vision was one of significance, one of becoming a man or woman. In many tribes it was in that dream many received their names from that vision and or happening in the dream. Our western society so ungraciously casts dreams aside with the exception of a few consider by many professionals as pseudo-scientists including Jung by Freudian thinkers. I once tried to tell a practitioner of dream analysis of my dreams sadly she had to look in her book. In twenty years she had never had anyone have a cricket crawl from the eye hole of a dried lizard skin.

“Nothing happens unless first a dream.” Carl Sandburg

So often in today’s fast paced world and lives we tend to forget, to stop and dream although I use the word ponder I sort of like that word. It is in accomplishing we need to dream first to see ahead and give ourselves understanding of where we are going.

“Some men see things as they are and say, “Why?” I dream of things that never were and say, “Why not?” frequently attributed to Robert F. Kennedy, who used it in a speech which his brother, Edward F. Kennedy quoted at RFK’s funeral. Actually by George Bernard Shaw

I wonder if Bobby Kennedy cited Shaw when he used this quote. I remember the speech and it was a powerful one at that. But can we dream of things that never were? Can we see beyond today and see what could be? If only we could what a world this would be. I wish it were we could know and then perhaps lives could be saved and democracy could be a reality and war would be over. But alas today it is only a dream and so please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

My little Grand daddy and me

Bird Droppings May 15-16, 2010
My little Grand Daddy and me

So many people complain about social networks and their negative impacts on children and the world in general. I was sitting at school Friday morning about five thirty listening to a MySpace playlist of Ron Kimble a local musician and song writer. I first heard and saw Ron in 1977 or so at the now defunct Hemmingway’s Bar in Decatur. Back in the day Ron and his band did mainly country with a mix of Southern Rock and Roll. My cousin Bill would many times go with us and every time send a napkin forward with the same song on it. After numerous napkins and a brief introduction Ron Kimble said we keep getting this song as a request so for Bill here goes and Ron’s band ripped into “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and put Iron Butterfly to shame. Hope that holds you for a week or two. Bill was sitting there smiling.
It has been several years now since I found or was friended by Ron Kimble’s MySpace page which by chance includes about ten songs all acoustic solos by Ron in his deep baritone. Most are some traditional country, gospel and folk songs but one has brought a tear to my eye ever time I play it and yesterday I hooked my computer through my stereo speakers at school and listened to this song loud and clear. Ron wrote this song for his grand daddy born in 1895.

“My grand daddy was a little man he stood about five foot four. He was an American hero and they don’t make like him no more. He told me stories of other places and times. I was just a little boy but I hung on every word.” Words and music by Ron Kimble

I am in tears on about the second or third word as I think back to my dad sitting telling stories over the years. Years ago it was my self, my sisters and brother. Up until the day he passed on he was still spinning yarns for his grandkids. My kids grew up with tales of Grandpa Niper, my great granddad and Little Strong Arm, a Sioux chief, much like we did as kids so long ago. Many the days the grandkids gave up technology to sit and listen or better yet go for a golf cart ride with pop-pop as he would make up tales of the hermit in the woods of the family farm. I sat and listened for nearly an hour letting Ron’s songs fill my room Friday morning.
Maybe one day I will be telling the family stories to my own grandkids sitting by the fireplace spinning tales and taking Great Grandpa Niper again for his travels tracking Geronimo and saving folks across the country though he really never left New Jersey and his community. Although he lived to be one hundred and fourteen he was not a big man as our stories tell. He did not fire over his shoulder his faithful rifle while pursued by hostiles. He never was across the Rockies and over the Mississippi but stayed at home with my Great Grandmother, who by chance was Leni Lenape, of the Delaware’s carving farm tools and ax handles which was his trade. As the old newspaper articles tell he was considered one of the best wooden tool makers in New Jersey.
Now my Grandpa Niper was a little man and stood about five foot four. What a contrast to my own father and my kids grandfather who stood six one and played offense and defensive lineman in college and was drafted by the Baltimore Colts back in the day. Dad chose raising a family and the steel mills of Pennsylvania over pro-football. There are many stories of my father I can spin as I tell my grandkids. The night of the great bar fight when my dad after us kids could not get any sleep because the bar across the street from our apartment was still open and the regulars had taken to the street yelling and hollering. Dad picked up a police Billy club he had and there are many stories to go with it and walked across the street and gave one warning and a hush feel over the rowdy crowd. We never heard what was said but I did see him waving the Billy club in the air.
Maybe it is the job of grandfathers to pass on the culture of a family and society. Wilma Mankiller in her book, Every Day is a Good Day, borrows from the reflections of indigenous women from many cultures and each of them pulls from their oral history and traditional stories. An author and scholar I have enjoyed reading now for several years is Dr. Michael Tlanusta Garrett. While a professor in college and chairman of Guidance Counseling specializing in working with Native American youth in college, cross culture counseling he writes often about his heritage, that of the North Carolina Cherokees.

“Everything we do affects all of our relations and the survival of our species. We are all connected in our ancestors in spirit and in our physical being within ourselves. The past present and future are on the same energy continuum.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Meditations with the Cherokee

It has been a number of years since I read some writings and articles from a dear friend on the concept of eldering. Elders would teach and work with young folks in learning the culture and understanding of society. In most primitive cultures children would be left in the care of the elders to learn the ways of that particular group or tribe. I was thinking back to my own life and how many the time my grandmother would take care of us and she would tell stories of her father and the coal mines of Pennsylvania and of how when my grandfather passed on she took over his church to finish out his term as pastor in a small coal mining town in the mountain of Pennsylvania. Stories of Grandpa Savidge who since pastors back then made very little money would drive with his car and trailer down to the New Jersey shore and buy fish to sell and for his family to make a little extra. One of those stories was about a great tuna fish he brought back that hung out the end of the trailer. Grandma could not believe it.
My cousin in Florida wrote and recorded her grand dad’s stories of Collier County Florida back in the day when Naples was a fishing town and not much else. All of these stories now that can be passed down to her grand kids and family are part of who we are and why we are.
I spent a large portion of yesterday digging in the dirt. It was a day of weeding and planting adding to and taking away from my various herb gardens. I walk around smelling and often sometimes talking to various plants. Amazing how often slight differences in smell and taste for example in basils can alter a dish being prepared. I have chosen through my current course of study to read and reflect on various plants used through differing cultures and societies her in Georgia. I am working on my dissertation on the Foxfire Approach to teaching. Foxfire started as a way of teaching to mountain kids in North Georgia to tie them into and give relevance to their learning. Out of that original class in 1966 came the Foxfire magazine and thirteen books.

“The work teachers and students do together enables learners to make connections between the classroom work, the surrounding communities, and the world beyond their communities.” Foxfire Core Practice three

The students of Foxfire went into the community and gleaned stories from the mountains and their relatives. In their study and discussions with grandfathers, grandmothers, great aunts and uncles they did unravel a piece of themselves. The Foxfire museum and property in Mountain City Georgia is directly from the work of these kids. Original cabins were taken apart after donation t the museum and moved to the property preserving a piece of our mountain heritage. Stories were recorded and transcribed and edited and put into the Foxfire magazine. I visited the Foxfire class about a year ago and still they are finding stories and pieces from days long gone. Somehow in out technological diversity there is still a culture and history waiting to be learned and passed on.

“My grand daddy was a little man he stood about five foot four. He was an American hero and they don’t make like him no more. He told me stories of other places and times. I was just a little boy but I hung on every word.” Words and music by Ron Kimble

So as I end today and get ready to go do a bit more gardening may we all cherish our past and history and pass it on to the grand babies so that they can pass it one to theirs. Please perhaps on last thought for today keep all in harms way on your minds and in your hearts.

A new store opening

Bird Droppings May 14, 2010
A new store opening

Interesting two thoughts while similar struck me this morning as I started the day out. One I heard on the radio going to get gas for my wife the other day from a radio announcer recalling an old Bush quote, and the other thought is from Harry Potter. All of this sitting here thinking about my new favorite store it has been over two years since the SUPER Kroger opened near our house. After four days of mandated state testing it is Friday ten days of school left and what a glorious day ahead.

“It is not about the goods we accumulate but about the good we do” George W. Bush

“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” Professor Dumbledore to Harry in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” by J.K. Rowling

I wish it would be possible to believe the first, but with trying to drill for oil in wilderness Alaska and off shore in Florida and other parts of the country and friends in high places reaping huge profits and a war costing trillions of dollars that was bogus claim from many people’s standpoints. It was not too long ago that war efforts accumulation seems more important than doing any sort of good. Of course the philosophy of the ends justifies the means could possibly be applied. That was sort of the approach when the last passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati zoo and some people had the attitude well it’s only a pigeon.
Sadly once there were billions flying over the forests of the east coast, and yes it is only a pigeon except we can never at this time replicate that one, it is gone. The Alaska wilderness, Gulf Coast sadly when they are gone they are gone and can never be replicated as well but if the end justifies it, many people see no problem. Even with millions of gallons of oil spilling out of a deep water rig some are asking for more drilling. However as I sit this morning, perhaps a better brighter thought from J.K. Rowling thorough the character of Dumbledore “it is our choices that show who we really our”. I wonder how soon Harry Potter books will be classics and teachers will be analyzing the plots and developing theories as to why Rowling characterized Harry as a boy or teenager and why an owl as his companion versus a weasel.
Thinking back to my own high school days which seems like in the dark ages I recall eleventh or twelfth grade English and Ms. Stern and “Moby Dick”, according to her the ship represented the world and Ishmael well he got stuck on that ship. I always questioned even then for example what was Melville really telling us besides a great story and history of New England’s whaling industry? I really enjoyed the story but not the analysis and when I wrote my opinion, it was wrong according to Ms. Stern. Many years ago choices we made not our abilities was the credo. A friend reminded a week or so back about Kent State and forty years ago the event that stirred the nation four college students were killed in a thirteen second volley of fire from National Guard soldiers during a Viet Nam War protest. Choices we make follow us and can destroy and or build up who we are.

”Ability is of little account without opportunity.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary.” Thomas A. Edison

It is about being at the right place at the right time or is it the choice we make. It is also about applying and choosing when opportunity provides a window and then plot thickens.

“It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.” Elbert Hubbard

Humility is an added aspect of today’s search seeing in others that ability almost an intuitive aspect of humanity.

“The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts.” Booker T. Washington

This morning as I was being lazy and getting started later writing than normal well I am enjoying a few hours of sleep after going to a former students high school graduation. I sat down and had forty two new emails so I read several emails. One spoke of realizing school was nearing the end and graduation was only a few weeks ahead and now they would have to make a way in life. In that same email concern for a friend stationed in the Middle East. Watching the news doesn’t give justice to friends and families with loved ones over seas in harms way, as I think, choices we make. I received an email from my youngest son reminding me to not pick him up because he already had a ride due to a car in the garage and lastly a suggestion of a book to read. Three emails of 70 or so yesterday that truly caught my attention.
I started with a Bush quote and maybe that applies to a job search as well. So many of the following what we do with our lives is our choice how the world will see that choice is dependent upon the direction and choices we make. It is not the ability that you will be known for or how great an actor or musician or football player but what you do with your talent is what is seen. Family is so crucial and friends equally as well and always seek to learn to know more reading, writing, thinking and reflecting. In the midst of long graduation sermon last night a line or two about character. It is not our talent but our character that counts and the speaker reflected on Tim Tebow. Pro scouts did not really think he had it yet he led a NCAA prime team to national championships. He has been in tight spots and come away a winner. So surprised were many that in the first round he was chosen even the following day writers were joking about the pick. Ask Florida’s coach about Time Tebow and I am sure he will not joke and will probably smile about Denver’s first round pick.

“If there were no writers there will be no readers” unknown source

“Choose wisely”, it has been said and in the end some do and some will not. So today take stock of where you are and look at the road ahead and pick that path way that will direct you where you need to be.

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” Basho

In today’s hectic world we all look for quick solutions, five minute abs, six minutes to wisdom, and a one minute egg. Wisdom is not on the stock exchange, it is not a brokered commodity. It is there, and it is a journey. The journey is not an easy one and to be involved in finding wisdom only those who actually travel that road will truly become wise.

“True wisdom lies in gathering the precious things out of each day as it goes by.” E. S. Bouton

Several nights ago I was bored no American Idol or no new House and I put on a video of Star Trek of all things, “Star Trek Insurrection”. The plot revolves around a planet where all is at peace. The few residents, all 600 have forsaken technology for art, or literature, for the aesthetics in life and for all that they can make of themselves. Interestingly a weaver studies 40 years to become an apprentice and apprentice another 40 to become a master weaver of rugs and tapestries. These people live n a planet whose innate radiation prolongs life and rejuvenates them cellular so they have time to accomplish what it is inside them. It sounds so easy when the time allows it.
Daniel Day Lewis, actor and now cobbler took a five year hiatus from movies to study cobbling, (shoe making) in Europe from the masters. As the Star Trek movie progressed a comment was made about a prefect moment, a special moment that stands out above all else. Captain Pickard mentioned seeing earth from space for the first time, many astronauts recall that moment. For me it was a sunrise over the Atlantic one morning on Cumberland Island with the waves splashing about and the most brilliant reds and oranges I have ever seen. A shrimp boat slowly moved through this picture yet in its awesomeness the boat was insignificant.
As Pickard spoke with this woman on this planet of a prefect moment she then offered now to learn to make every moment prefect and the movie continued and soon he was seeing a hummingbird flit to a flower or the pollen blown from a flower.

“Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am intrigued as I read various thoughts on wisdom and for some reason I am always drawn to Emerson. He was always controversial yet perhaps one of the greatest thinkers as well as poet of his time. He was alluding to wisdom as a temporary entity in his statement. The next quote is an interesting statement from a President oft misunderstood

“Wisdom oft times consists of knowing what to do next.” Herbert Clark Hoover

“Wisdom begins at the end.” Daniel Webster

So often we spend time simply doing, not seeking, we spend time worrying about which path to travel or preparing our needs for the journey and worrying about the destination. We forget to go and there we are no better and no worse, only we are where we were to start still. Somewhere in among all things is the destination but the destination is not necessarily the end but a point B of a line AB and still out there is C and D and E and much more. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your thoughts.