How we see it?

Bird Droppings June 8, 2010
How we see it?

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Abraham H. Maslow

A rather simple statement as I look at it yet so true. We tend to be limited to what we know and what we have at hand, be it emotionally, physically and or mentally. Far too few times do we try and go beyond our limited resources and fall on our faces.

“Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed. Their highest merit is suggestiveness.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

It has been a few years since I was told my opinion was wrong, as I expressed an opinion on a test about Melville’s, Moby Dick. Sitting here reading this thought from Hawthorne however, isn’t this true, as we look at art or poetry. Should that piece we are involved with not take us somewhere besides where we are and perhaps even beyond the expectations of the artist, who at the time of that piece’s creation was limited by their perspective and perceptions.

“The seeing of objects involves many sources of information beyond those meeting the eye when we look at an object. It generally involves knowledge of the object derived from previous experience, and this experience is not limited to vision but may include the other senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and perhaps also temperature or pain.” R. L. Gregory

Years ago I remember seeing a movie about an African Bushman who finds an old green glass coke bottle. It was the old small kind that was so good in the old water cooler type coke machines. The movie is entitled; The God’s must be crazy. It involves a bush pilot who throws an empty coke bottle out of a window of his plane and barely misses, totally unintentionally, a bushman hunter. The hunter picks up the bottle, totally unsure of what has nearly hit him, seeing the plane flying by, this object came from the heavens, the Gods sent it. As the bottle makes the rounds when he returns to his camp each member of his group finding uses for the bottle. A woman pounds and grinds meal with it, one fills it with water, one blows into it making a sound and so on each person finds a new use but soon greed sets in and fighting occurs. Everyone wants the bottle. The hunter takes it back and carefully returns to the edge of civilization and throws it back.

“Perspective, as its inventor remarked, is a beautiful thing. What horrors of damp huts, where human beings languish, may not become picturesque through aerial distance! What hymning of cancerous vices may we not languish over as sublimest art in the safe remoteness of a strange language and artificial phrase! Yet we keep a repugnance to rheumatism and other painful effects when presented in our personal experience.” George Elliot

An interesting passage coming from author Mary Evans who wrote under the name George Eliot in the mid 1800’s in England. Actually she became a rather famous novelist and eccentric in her own time. Several months ago I was watching art student’s work on perspective in a hallway. The project was teaching the idea and concept of drawing a three dimensional object on a flat piece of paper to appear with perspective and dimensions. Often as I write each morning I come back to teaching. Teaching is part of what I do each day but more so of what each of us does each day as a parent or even as a friend. If we learn something we want to teach it, share it and literally pass it on. It could be tying a shoe or showing how to use a new digital camera.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Abraham H. Maslow

It has been a few years since I was driving to north Georgia for graduate school and an idea hit me. In teaching I have used the word symbiosis as an example of where I see teaching.

“The term is usually restricted to a dependent relationship that is beneficial to both participants.” North Carolina State – Biology dictionary

In this case both parties student and teacher benefit but they are dependent a step up from parasitism.

“A plant or animal that at some stage of its existence obtains its nourishment from another living organism called the host. Parasites may or may not harm the host, but they never benefit it.” NCS

In teaching there are many instances of teachers being parasites, as well as friends and even parents. It could be about feeding egos and that desire for control, power over others. There are many different ways people become parasitic in their relationships. As I drove, working actually on the idea of feedback between teachers and students and then I came to osmosis.

“In either case the direction of transfer is from the area of higher concentration of the material transferred to the area of lower concentration” NCS

This I have come to find is what teaching, friendship and or parenting in its purest form, is about. However this movement works both ways as concentrations change. The students can become the teacher and teacher a student as ideas and thoughts diverge and converge. The semi permeable membrane is the secret rather than barriers and walls a membrane separates. Granted this is semantics and symbolic concepts but teaching is about transferring knowledge.
Maslow in his hierarchy of needs follows a similar pattern moving from physiological needs to self actualization. We as parents and teachers need to carefully check our tool boxes and see if all we have is a hammer, if it is, then stop by the hardware store and get a few more tools. Never be limited in how you view and see all around you. Periodically I change my screen savers and backgrounds often using photos from students or art work and their perspective, what I see in that piece may be more than what the artist intended. A few days back I borrowed from Walt Disney a quote a simple line “If you can dream it, you can do it.” As I sit here thinking, wondering, perspective has a lot to do with succeeding in life and fulfilling dreams. How you see tomorrow I have shared many times a dream of world peace. Maslow would offer “the dominant need is always shifting.” Until we need peace, war is inevitable let’s need peace. Please keep all in harms way on your minds and in your hearts.

Searching for Wisdom

Bird Droppings June 7, 2010
Searching for wisdom

“The awakened sages call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results; all his selfish desires have been consumed in the fire of knowledge. The wise, ever satisfied, have abandoned all external supports. Their security is unaffected by the results of their action; even while acting, they really do nothing at all. Free from expectations and from all sense of possession, with mind and body firmly controlled by the Self, they do not incur sin by the performance of physical action.” Bhagavad Gita 4:19-21

Wisdom is a matter of who you are with, when and how you have been told. But as I read this passage many years ago a person is wise when what you do is done without anxiety about results. We live in a competitive world today in nearly everything we do. I recall when a major news story was a leading terrorist had been killed and it was played as a trump card competitively since the gay marriage card was beaten in the Senate the day before. Today it is all about oil spills and sadly not is the hole plugged but how much are they siphoning off. I often wonder if politicians get stressed out other than when elections are at stake over what they did or did not do. I always thought of my grandmother as wise as I think back so many years she looked more towards character than deeds done by politicians.

“This we can all bear witness to, living as we do plagued by unremitting anxiety….It becomes more and more imperative that the life of the spirit be avowed as the only firm basis upon which to establish happiness and peace.” The Dalai Lama

As a society we seem to encourage anxiety and stress. Our last national government pushed to spread democracy through war which is nearly a paradox. This caused a tension and insecurity in our children according to Curriculum Theorist Henry Giroux. Is it turning to a deeper meaning a spiritual center as “the only firm base” as The Dalai Lama states.

“If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day.” Alex Noble

How many if we take this approach to life? I use often the term of being a searcher and I am honestly always searching; when I go for a walk I am observing, looking, and searching for a new flower, twig, insect, or something I have not seen before or heard. When walking in the forest I have the urge to check under rocks could be the unrelenting herpetologist in me searching for a snake or lizard. As I sit or stand in the hallway at school observing and searching faces, empathizing and trying to understand.
“To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things. The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential. But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depth of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge. To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.” Dietrich Bonheoffer

I used a statement in writing one day about seeing the bubble in a thousand clear oceans just a few days back. Bonheoffer addresses that same issue here. In education it is about context not content. It is about being able to apply what knowledge we have. This can be more significant than an encyclopedia of information.

“I do not want the peace that passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace.” Helen Keller

Many the time, I will sit and think about people I would like to meet. My biological grandfather on my mother’s side is one. Gandhi another and Ralph Waldo Emerson I tend to put down as my most favorite to meet, but if I was allowed another it would be Helen Keller. A person to overcome such insurmountable odds and to accomplish what she did is amazing and I work in a business of miracles with special needs kids. The title to the book does not do justice, “The Miracle Worker”.

“It is characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” Henry David Thoreau

I need to be more cautious as I write yesterday Thoreau was searching for clam rather than calm as I found a quote to add to my quote bank. Spell check does not read minds as of yet. But Thoreau eludes back to that thousand plus year old statement from the Bhagavad Gita,”when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about result.” Being wise is being in tune so to say with all around. Another way of approaching is harmony which is perhaps an even better word.

“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.” Immanuel Kant

In education there are in Georgia Standards points of reference in each subject to attain or to have knowledge of at that point of testing. Georgia had a system in place of Quality Core Curriculum which literally was each and every aspect of what the committee thought was important in that subject. Teachers were teaching to QCC’s which is purely specific content. There was excitement as standards came out and then the school curriculum people got hold of the standards and unpacked them as they say and now we have curriculum maps and curriculum pacing and what was to be wonderful has become a monster. Life has been stripped out and organization over loaded.

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” Lin Yutang

I have several times used my example of a liter bottle and then having three gallons to put in it. How do we do it? We could use funnel but still only it is filled to a liter and the rest spills out. I use this illustration in educating special needs kids and I believe it applies to all children and adults. It has been a few months since my last trip to Mountain City and the Foxfire property and I will be heading up tomorrow morning. If you are in Mountain City Georgia take a look well worth the drive up Black Rock Mountain. The former car taker and curator Robert who has passed away with cancer would take you around the property. Here and there he would pick a plant or three or four telling about what they do and what they are used for by Native Americans and mountain folk. As he goes building to building explaining mountain life he eventually gets to a shed with a large copper coil sort of device and asks, “so what is it?” and answers run the gambit. Finally laughing he explains it is a condenser for making moonshine.
How do we fill a liter bottle? We condense, we synthesize and much like making cane syrup we boil the cane juice down to get to the good stuff. Wisdom is knowing what the good stuff is, and being able to transcend the frills and extras.

“The perfection of wisdom, and the end of true philosophy is to proportion our wants to our possessions, our ambitions to our capacities, we will then be a happy and a virtuous people.” Mark Twain

Make that number five on my list of people who I would like to meet. Somehow Mark Twain would always have the right words and thoughts. As I meander about today searching for books and ideas I will end with a line from a founding father and one maybe our current in power folks should read.

“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.” Thomas Jefferson

I hope we will listen to Jefferson and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Can we wait?

Bird Droppings June 5, 2010
Can we wait?

I missed writing during a weekday for the first time in some while yesterday and all day I felt as if something was missing. There has been so much in my family the past week and today a wedding of one of my cousin’s children. I wish for them a joyous and wonderful day. With that we have an excuse for our entire family to be home at one time so last night nearly every sleeping space was taking with spare folks and dogs. It will be a great weekend.

“People count up the faults of those who are keeping them waiting.” French Proverb

How do we have patience with people who should know better? I went for a hair cut yesterday and my hair cuts are not that big of a process, number three blade blended sides and back and about a half inch on top. The girls who were working were very busy and it was interesting with customers sitting waiting one or two would break after each customer and miss one for every two others finished. I am a patient person but I do not wait well in crowds and was getting a bit frustrated however with a wedding today I needed a hair cut.

“Our patience will achieve more than our force.” Edmund Burke

“Let this be understood, then, at starting; that the patient conquest of difficulties which rise in the regular and legitimate channels of business and enterprise is not only essential in securing the success which you seek but it is essential to that preparation of your mind, requisite for the enjoyment of your successes, and for retaining them when gained. So, day by day, and week by week; so month after month, and year after year, work on, and in that process gain strength and symmetry, and nerve and knowledge, that when success, patiently and bravely worked for, shall come, it may find you prepared to receive it and keep it,” Josiah Gilbert Holland

Patience does pays off, it is so difficult to wait even when we know this watching and waiting. However in the class room it is patience that often wins the battle with a student who may not have ever had a teacher who was patient.

“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” Barbara Johnson

There have been times when stripping the gears probably would have felt good and maybe helped a child along the way out the door. But often that rash action can be avoided if only waiting a few moments and the ideal solution will prevail. As I read files of kids who come through my door many are ADHD and I am one to not look lightly on that diagnosis but one recent graduate sitting at graduation for nearly an hour had his hat on and off nearly a hundred times. He would hold it fan himself drop it and pick it up and I am surprised he made it through the entire program.

“Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not in one ahead.” Bill Mcglashen

“Consider the hour-glass; there is nothing to be accomplished by rattling or shaking; you have to wait patiently until the sand, grain by grain, has run from one funnel into the other.” John Christian Morgenstern

It can be so difficult to wait at times especially when children are involved. In education many times we see teacher who really should not be teaching, altering and literally taking away from a child’s education and it is hard to watch for me. But time and patience will prevail and I am an advocate of that. In watching a softball game swinging at every pitch accomplishes nothing especially if they are bad pitches. Swinging at the exact right moment drives in runs and wins the game.

“If I have made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.” Sir Isaac Newton

“Patience in the present, faith in the future, and joy in the doing” George Perera

I was never very good at fishing. Could be why I do not fish much at all. It might be that sitting and watching the bobber in the water just never appealed to me. But I recall my cousin in Naples Florida who would cast his line where others were fishing waiting as I wait and hook a big fish every time. Simply waiting is not patience, but it is also knowing, what it is you are doing and when to do it. My cousin knew where to cast and with what bait and the exact time. All I knew was I didn’t like to fish because I never caught anything. Patience is more tha waiting it is also knowledge.

“Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.” Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

So often as a child sitting looking at the pile of presents under the tree at Christmas it was difficult to understand why we had to wait. But the interaction with family when it was time was worth the wait. Accomplishing the goal is worth the wait. Waiting for the right pitch or right moment to cast that line for the trophy fish is worth the wait. Patience is a difficult task to learn yet one of the most valuable in life. It is a difficult task to teach but with with experience it is one in which we learn by doing. As we end a week keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.

Searching for the ends of the bell shaped curve

Morning Bird Droppings June 3, 2010
Searching for the ends of a bell shaped curve

“Tell me what gives a man or woman their greatest pleasure and I’ll tell you their philosophy of life.” Dale Carnegie

In the aftermath of the Republican and Democratic conventions going on nearly two years ago now I realized how much I do not like politics. Each candidate throws out political promises that literally by definition are lies. They are simply words spoken to get elected and as I look at the words of Carnegie maybe we should find a simpler way to decide on a candidate. Perhaps just weight and height or average intelligence and maybe even an achievement test.

“The courage of the truth is the first condition of philosophic study.” George Hegel

“All the interests of my reason, speculative as well as practical, combine in the three following questions: 1. What can I know? 2. What ought I to do? 3. What may I hope?” Immanuel Kant

Perhaps we should make a philosopher president. As I venture forth this morning trying to not reiterate the multitude of media that has deluged us all week with political dribble. In reviewing files on students and even employees, looking at references, in the past I have found the person who is writing the reference very definitely allows their perception to drive the effort. So in effect a reference is a biased resource. How can we truly get to know and understand a candidate or prospective elected official?

“Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.” Hans Margolius

As I read this morning thinking of various reports about a student I had recently read. Often I will wait to review records forming my own opinion before digging into the actual files so I am not biased by someone else’s opinion and perception of a give student. I definitely am trying not to be prejudiced by others thoughts.

“The heart has eyes which the brain knows nothing of.” Charles H. Perkhurst

“Simple people… are very quick to see the live facts which are going on about them.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

I am amazed often at how our system works we design everything in generalities that are driven by what will work most of the time. Some might even say there is truth in the bell shaped curve of statistical data. But those fringes of humanity at either end of the curve, that minute quantity, end up in judgment and in reality forced to survive by the same general guidelines as the majority. We do this in schools and education on a daily basis. One test fits all sort of thing and we then do leave children behind for what ever reason. On a grander scale when we apply to national or state issues so often a small group gets pushed aside for the greater good. Or I should say the presumed greater good of the majority. How do we determine the majority is an accurate number and not one influenced daily by media muckrakers and shock jocks?

“To do exactly as your neighbors do is the only sensible rule.” Emily Post

“The idea that men are created free and equal is both true and misleading: men are created different; they lose their social freedom and their individual autonomy in seeking to become like each other.” David Riesman

I was chatting with a fellow teacher about kindergarten age children yesterday as when a teacher workday most end up in my room asking questions about snakes or spiders. Many times they come to help feed or to hold a specific animal. Always I get thinking and it is interesting how we take the little children and make them conform to totally unnatural standards for four and five year olds. You should be quiet, stand in line, color in the lines, do this, do that and then as the get older by the time they are twelve years we have continued adding to the guidelines and by the time they are in high school they have the agenda down pat imposed by some political faction.

“Agenda – 1: a list or outline of things to be considered or done, 2: an underlying often ideological plan or program” Webster’s Dictionary

It bothers me that we eliminate individuality from children we strip away the aspects that make them who they are. It starts so young when we stop children from questioning or from playing and imagining or provide technology to do all the work. I am not against technology I wish I had a calculator back in high school but I learned how to do math not simply use a calculator.

“We are citizens of an age, as well as of a State; and if it is held to be unseemly, or even inadmissible, for a man to cut himself off from the customs and manners of the circle in which he lives, why should it be less of a duty, in the choice of his activity, to submit his decision to the needs and the taste of his century?” Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

“We are discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove.” Mark Twain

It is sort of sad to be compared to sheep but after watching the politics of the past week it is so easy to see a few words rumors and politics shifts one way or another. Years ago herders would have a “Judas goat” to lead the lambs to slaughter the flock simply followed never questioning just follow along. Many years ago Disney Studios had a film on border collies. Basically they of course saved the day but one particular scene was of the flock pushing and following and a great number of sheep ended up in the stream nearly drowning. A quick note border collies always have very short names, such as Dot, Jim, Bo always generally one syllable. It is easier to say quickly when working sheep. Anyhow the two dogs risk their lives to save the drowning sheep and the rest of the flock and get them safely home. Earlier when I started I did not realize the direction and I am sitting here now thinking of teachers as border collies steering guiding the herd. Occasionally we get a Judas goat as a teacher but hopefully they get weeded out as we go.

“It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.” Albert Einstein

A bit of grounding and as I think of the bell shaped curve and sheep and how we in education strive to have standardized everything. I also see Einstein that great thinker point out that even in our world of majority rules the individual can still be found and still be, “warmly acclaimed.” Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Following the Path

Bird Droppings June 1, 2010
Following the Path

“In our way of life, with every decision we make, we always keep in mind the Seventh Generation of children to come. When we walk upon Mother Earth, we always plant our feet carefully, because we know that the faces of future generations are looking up at us from beneath the ground. We never forget them.” Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of The Onondaga Nation

When I first moved to Fisherville Road in Caln Township outside or Coatesville Pennsylvania I was in the first grade. The location was one of a country block as we called it. All of the houses surrounded an open area of fields, orchards and pasture and perhaps the square itself was a mile or so on each side. All of our neighbors or I should say many had their house area and then a portion of the central block as part of their property. My mother and father owned nine acres or so of apple trees and pear trees. A good friend next door his parents owned maybe fourteen acres and had cherries, peaches, apples and pears. A retired former vice president of the local steel mill had a section in which he planted pine tress actually more for Christmas trees than anything. So we grew up in this at that time vast oasis of hiding places and fruit trees enough that our parents would call for dinner after we had been out all day.
It was dividing our property and my friends that the path ran along. It was worn from carts, tractors, mowers and our continuous walking the path to and from the bus stop on the other road. We all called it the path. Over the years there is no telling how many times I walked the path from the bus stop or just going to see my friends. Perhaps today being June first brought it all back from those hidden away memories of childhood. One of my dear friends birthday is today and it seems as I started the day I was a day behind so in effect two Bird Droppings today. I always pick on him that I remember his birthday since our burro Jenny gave birth on June 1st as well. So I remember Roscoe’s birthday and really his is just circumstantial.

“Consider people’s fascination with the past. What is this fascination with history, legends, stories, things from the past, and things that remind us of the past? What makes certain pictures or special gifts we received once so important to us? Are we simply burdened with too much free time, or is there a sense of connection that gives our lives meaning? The past and things that tie us to it give us a sense of connection with those things, experiences, people that have gone before us. In order for us to know our place in the universe, we must realize where we stand in relation to all things around us; this is the power of relation. Our connection with the past gives us a sense of continuity, a sense that we are somehow part of the Greater Circle. It gives us a sense of place and a sense of direction. Our connection with the future also gives us a sense of direction and purpose on the path that we walk.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind

I recall a snow storm in 1958 that kept us out of school for a week and my friend’s older brother carried my younger sister on his back down through the drifts to our house along the path. The snow was drifting nearly ten foot at the time and we made our way through nearly thirty inches of fresh snow. So many memories linked to a simple trail worn by countless footsteps of children and adults over the years. As I have grown older and now symbolically represent life as a pathway a journey I can not help but recall so fondly that pathway in my childhood.

“I remember once when I was home for my birthday, I noticed that my mother was crying to herself. When I asked her why, thinking that something had happened and maybe she needed my help, she simply responded, “I was having you right now.” At first, I didn’t understand. Then, I suddenly realized that she was reliving the moments leading up to my birth and that this was still such an emotionally powerful experience for her, even all these years later. She looked upon me as a gift and treated me as such. And I, in turn, have always looked upon her gift of life to me as nothing less than sacred.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind

As I look back on my memories of my childhood and many of which I do recall but only know from my father, mother and grandmother telling me in later years I see my life and all life around me as sacred. Something special to hold and keep close as Dr. Garrett states as a gift. I remember very clearly even in my old age the births of my three sons and how that impacted me. I have been there for many of my brothers, cousins and sisters deliveries of their children and seen their faces and attitude toward their newborns. I watch my brother in law steal babies from strangers, although that does not sound too good, only to hold and share his concern and wonderment with newborns. As each birthday rolls around my wife and I reflect back to each of our son’s deliveries each was different and unique, one lasted eighteen hours and one twenty six minutes.

“I have tried to live my life with this attitude. I live my life this way because I choose to live my life this way. This is my Medicine, and for me it is a Good Medicine Way. It holds power for me, not the power of control, but the power of perspective. To look upon all things as sacred and purposeful is no small task for us human beings, who have been blessed with the intellectual and spiritual capacity to transcend both time and space in a single thought.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind

My journey in life has had many pathways and many side trails. Each added to who I was both good and bad. Each person I met along the way added to my own person. I have said many times that I looked at life as a puzzle falling into place piece by piece. It has been so many pieces each step along that pathway in Pennsylvania, each mile of highway driven, every word I have heard in graduate school, every student that I have discussed with in my class room each piece has added to who I am.

“Making new memories, is more fun than talking about old ones.” Ashley Holt, International Model, Friend, former swim team member, and culinary artist
As I read this particular face book status update several things hit me. First the author lives life to the fullest, and secondly each new memory is a culmination of all of the old. Without the old there would not be that specific new memory. Looking back on my own life it is from building on all of those old ones we can truly have a wonderful time with the new. Wandering back to my journey down that path in Pa. thinking back to my first teaching days and even twenty years or more of publishing business before coming back to teaching which actually led to meeting a certain person during a swimming practice and listening to their problems and issues so many years ago.
“I have long wondered what really is at the end of a rainbow. Quite honestly, I have never checked (I’ve chalked that up as one of the many pursuits for later life…). But I do wonder. There have been many stones on my path that I have thus far left unturned, either because I just haven’t gotten around to them or maybe because those stones did not wish to be bothered in the first place (it’s important to know the difference).” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind
It was perhaps six or eight years ago I was driving with my son when over head three rainbows converged and we drove, I actually drove to find the end where they met. The intensity of color could very easily be mistaken for gold. Cars were stopping along the highway to see this brilliant display of nature something I will never forget. As I read Dr. Garrett’s words of sometimes leaving stones unturned as I talk with students there are times to hold back and let the student or person tell the story rather than simply try and pull from them what I believe the answer to be. I have many stories of sitting with students along the way memories and of their life stories being told to me as they uncover and find pieces of who they really are. My own journey has taken many years and still is unraveling as I walk each day. Some laugh when I pull from my old box of quotes that line from Steven Tyler “Life is about the journey” and it is not about where we are going.
“So every time I see a rainbow, I just stand there in awe of its beauty and immensity, and whisper a small prayer thanking the rainbow for being willing to share its beauty with me. And something about the sight of it moves me from within, as if it were touching my spirit, and a deep sense of calm comes over me. I look upon the very sight of the rainbow as a gift, just as I look upon the very sight of the eagle as a gift, and the squirrel, and the ant, and the rock, and the little dandelions, and the rain, and all living beings in the Circle of Life. I know that a rainbow is not a rainbow without all of its colors, just as the Sacred Web of Life cannot exist without every one of its strands in harmony and balance.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind
Dr. Garrett referred to life as a gift which adds a new dimension to our daily existence if we accept this concept. Each moment is special and of importance.
“The point is, when we look upon something as a gift, we tend to accept it as it is, to appreciate it as it is, and it just makes us feel good. There is a sense of connection. It touches something within us and somehow grants us sacred moments of harmony. The journey is not “somewhere over there” or “some other time.” It is with us right here and right now. It is a part of us in everything that we do and everything that we are. What we perceive as our “pot of gold” may in fact be something very different when and if we find the end of the rainbow. What if the rainbow has no end? What if it is a circle that wraps itself gently around Earth in a continuous cycle of energy?” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind
For me as I wander this earth and try and become a piece in the puzzle of life I wonder continually about my interactions and those about me. Now, think about yourself. What are you really looking for? Are you looking for something or content with your daily plod. Where is your sense of place? As I think to my friend who once traveled the world modeling and now is studying in culinary school to be a baker. What is it that moves you? Do you have a goal in mind some would say a destination? What are the things you cherish? In today’s world so much is focused on the material and accumulation of things. What are the gifts that you have received, and what are the gifts that you have to give? Now it gets specific as we look at what do we have to give to others. Where is your love? Over the years I have found that love is an integral part of giving be it yourself or just in how you respond to others. Where does your vision lead you? Is it a fixed pathway much like my old trail in the orchards of Pennsylvania or is it more ethereal and philosophical as many of my friends of more recent years seem to find. What will it take for you to follow your vision? Is it education or just practice, is it learning more experiencing more to be able to know that what you do is the direction you should be going. I find myself of lately finding wisdom in Native American thought and understanding.
“Listen, and you will hear your spirit calling upon all our relations, and you will feel their energy. Our spirit is an extension of them and they are an extension of us. Our spirit connects us with the memories of all that has gone before us, all that is, and all that will be. Our spirit connects us with all of our relations in the Circle of Life. Listen, and you will hear Water speaking, Wind dancing, Sun smiling, the heartbeat of Mother Earth pulsing beneath our feet.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind
Over the past few years now I have read several of Michael Garrett and his father’s books. Both men are Native American and from North Carolina. Both men have Doctorates in various fields and work daily counseling others. Both men are considered healers by the Cherokee of North Carolina along with their earned degrees from Universities. Both have found a union of sorts in their meddling of spiritual, physical, emotional and cultural needs and desires.

“Every footstep is the journey. Every sight, every sound, every touch and taste and smell with which we are blessed is the journey. All of the colors before us are the journey, and we are the journey. May we always keep our feet on Mother Earth, our eyes and minds above the treetops, our spirit with the Greater Universal Spirit? And may we always walk the path of Good Medicine in harmony and balance, with a sense of humility, kindness, wonder, and respect for all living things as we follow the sacred trail of those who have come before us and those yet to come.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind
Perhaps it was my dear friend’s birthday yesterday and or my mix up of days and thinking Monday was May 30th leading along the way to this effort today. So many the steps we take as we walk the road. I will go today into a world of materialistic people of people who do not care about one another or the earth they walk. I will try in my writing and thinking to convey a differing view than perhaps the one most see as they leave their home each day. As I have now for so long please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

An interesting day

Bird Droppings May 31, 2010
An interesting day

I was up earlier than normal and went back to bed after sitting out for a few minutes around midnight or so. It was peaceful sitting in the coolness of a summer evening. I thought earlier we were going to have a storm. A cold front came through and temperatures were unseasonably cool but it felt good. I am sitting here writing and listening to a CD by R. Carlos Nakai, Sundance Season. Nakai plays traditional Native American music on a cedar seven note flute and in this particular CD uses also an eagle bone whistle. One used in Sundance ceremonies now for thousands of years.
It has been a few days since my last order of white sage and Dakota sage came in. I took a few moments over the weekend to put in my masons jars for storage. Sage has a peaceful aroma when burning and along with a bit of sweet grass a very relaxing aroma and attitude something about embers smoldering.

“For some years now, students have not been getting to the root of the aim of Zen, instead taking the verbal teachings of Buddha’s and Zen masters to be the ultimate rule. That is like ignoring a hundred thousand pure clear oceans and only focusing attention on a single bubble.” Ying-an

As I watched a few embers slowly dissipate it made me think to this piece I read earlier today while do some research for a paper in graduate school. So often we miss the point caught up in a pure clear ocean when the bubble is what we really seek. I sprinkled the ashes on the ground and came in to write and think.

“Storms make the oak grow deeper roots.” George Herbert (1593-1632, British metaphysical poet

Over the past few days I have read many emails, blogs and thoughts about how life strengthens us through trial and tribulations. I remember an oak tree in Coatesville Pennsylvania growing up immediately outside my apartment bedroom window. Hurricane Hazel was devastating the area and a loud crack and several large branches broke off falling on the parking lot beside our apartment damaging some cars. Very easily the tree could have given up and come down in the storm but it stayed put losing only a branch or two. The flooding I recall lasted for days as I recall but this was when I was four maybe 1953 or so. As I sit pondering a bubble the Zen master says far too often we do not take the time.

“Live as you will wish to have lived when you are dying.” Christian Furchtegott Gellert

A country song by about this subject went to number one and a subsequent little inspirational book was published that I found and have given away now quite a few copies. It is not about the destination it is the journey.

“It is not the greatness of a man’s means that makes him independent, so much as the smallness of his wants.” William Cobbett (1762-1835, British journalist, reformer

I a few days ago in talking with my mother we talked about how my father before he passed away had no wants at all. He had done everything he ever wanted and just was enjoying each minute of life be it an old Gunsmoke rerun on TV or a John Wayne movie. I was thinking about many of the ascetics over the years who give up everything simply to be. As I was thinking Henry David Thoreau came close wandering about as a learner so he could teach. So many teachers forget we are always learning and need to be in order to be an effective teacher. Sometimes it may be giving up something to gain more.

“If you desire many things, many things will seem few.” Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790, American scientist, publisher, diplomat

“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.” George Eliot

These are interesting thoughts, as I sit and ponder the morning and day ahead. So many things are happening in the world and so much happening each day we often miss a piece or two.

“The master goes about his business with perfect equanimity. He is happy when he sits, Happy when he talks and eats, happy asleep, happy coming and going. Because he knows his own nature, He does what he has to without feeling ruffled like ordinary people. Smooth and shining like the surface of a vast lake. His sorrows are at an end.” Ashtavakra Gita 18:59-60

I was talking with a young man I ran into at a convenience store. He is in his twenties now. I had him in class nearly ten years ago when he turned 16. He is working and doing alright according to him. When I had him in school he was on the verge of getting kicked out of school and then he withdrew and quit school. He went on and received his diploma in an alternative school format but he did finish. He could never be successful in a big group or class. Always his attention would drift and trouble would ensue. Back in the day he was a little spud but he had grown a few inches since I last saw him and put on a few pounds of muscle. What struck me in our conversation was his work. He was working in construction building foundations. This is a kid I would have bet would have been in jail within a year or two and he may have been but now he was building foundations for peoples homes. As I sit and think this for sure is a paradox maybe. I wish him well. As I close so much to be thinking about in the world but as always please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.