Bird Droppings October 18, 2010
Occasionally I will have a crazy thought although my students will say occasionally I have a normal thought and that would be more like it. They are insinuating most of my thoughts are crazy. My youngest son wed this past weekend and the ceremony was held under an ancient live oak tree named the Sentry Tree for standing watch over the bay during the Civil War. The great tree is several hundred years old and is covered with Spanish moss as are s many of the oaks along the coast in Florida. Ferns and other plants grew along the tops of the branches almost an ecosystem of its own. I spent several hours each day we were down in Florida sitting listening to the sounds under that great oak tree. I walked out to the bay and looked and listened to what nature had to show me. Numerous birds and flowers all special to Florida greeted me as I pondered so many tings this past weekend.
However I got to thinking as I was driving home yesterday and since I was being lazy today I did not get up till later and did not have to walk the dog so I missed seeing the stars and moon as it snuck behind the pines. But I sat down in my chair and thought, what if when we were born the hospital tattooed on your left foot made in what ever country and a hospital code for example and then underneath that an expiration date. You would know the exact moment, hour, day and year you will die. I started thinking at what point I would change how I lived. My students were arguing with me about living it up since my birthday is coming up and I will be sixty one. Their philosophy was you only live once go party live it up. So I was wondering knowing exactly how many days you have to do whatever it is you will do would you change anything knowing the exact moment of your demise.
“There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace. Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth evil, both equally unexpected.” Joseph Addison
It has been some time since I first used the concept of a puzzle to explain how our life progresses each of the pieces falling into place, each interconnected to the next. As I speak with people I use this comparison, often showing how each aspect of our lives ties to the next and how consequence comes from even the smallest of things. Knowing we had a limited amount of time to finish our puzzle would we do anything different? I think it is amazing as I think of what if we still had no directions and were floundering in trying to get things done I wonder when panic would set in.
“There are no rewards or punishments — only consequences.” Dean William R. Inge
“Whatever our creed, we feel that no good deed can by any possibility go unrewarded, no evil deed unpunished.” Orison Swett Marden
We have to take each piece as it comes and try and build from there. Each element leads to the next, a building block of sorts, as we travel through life, a deed leads to a consequence and then to another and another, each beyond the next.
“Men must try and try again. They must suffer the consequences of their own mistakes and learn by their own failures and their own successes.” Lawson Purdy
“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.” Sir Joseph Stamp
As I wonder about my words and events that yet will play out today, I daily use the term ABC, Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. In life, everything we do involves these three elements. Each aspect of our existence is preceded by an event, a happening that causes the behavior, no matter how subtle that event is. The behavior in turn leads to a consequence it is so simple, so clean it’s actually pretty cool. We respond and soon cover up, ABC. What if we could analyze all events so simply and plan our day. I do this, then that, this, then that all day long. However, conversely we tend to do this with students as well, if we see an event about to happen we can change the antecedent and alter behavior and of course the consequence. Managers in business do this as well as retailers are doing it as we sit and read, altering our buying for this holiday season through various sales specials etc. In reality through consequence the world is controlled so how do we keep our heads up and still be unique, and independent.
“Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath.” Mary Wollstonecraft
It was a many months back I was introduced to Mary Wollstonecraft a person who was ahead of her time, the ultimate feminist. She was writing about issues under her name and pen names, often a man’s name to get her point out. Her fire and zeal were passed on to her daughter Mary Shelly who penned the novel Frankenstein and was married to another great writer and poet Percy Shelly. How do we maintain within the struggle, to be who we are?
“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank
“Ideals are like the stars: we never reach them, but like the mariners of the sea, we chart our course by them.” Carl Schurz
How do we? I was thinking yesterday about my own direction in life one day going here and there and a slight bump and left turn and heading else where. Do we have focal points to guide us, stars as Schurz states? Can we find our way home when we get lost in life? I wonder at times even as pieces of the great puzzle fall into place. Maybe the pieces are wrong, maybe this is not where I am to be but as events slow down and the fog clears we can see even the most confusing of life’s events seems to work out. I was reading yesterday a new book, Spirits of The Earth by Bobby Lake Thom. He starts the book with a prayer that I would like to end with today.
“I ask that you bless our elders and children, families and friends, and the brothers and sisters that are in prison. I pray for the ones sick on drugs and alcohol, and for those who are homeless and forlorn. I pray for peace among the four races of mankind. May there be good healing for this earth. May there be beauty above me. May there be beauty below me. May there be beauty in me. May there be beauty all around me. I ask that our world be filled with peace, love and beauty.” Medicine Grizzly Bear, 1990
So easy to sit and write, yet around us, so much going on would we change anything if we knew our expiration date I wonder. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.