Bird Droppings August 1, 2011
Listening intently to a buffalo snort in the dark
“She lifted me up to be embraced by the breeze as she spoke to the wind: “Please recognize this child. Sometimes you will blow strong, sometimes you’ll be gentle, but let him grow up knowing the value of your presence at all times as he lives upon this planet.’” Bear Heart Medicine Man, Muskogee Creek, The Wind is my mother, 1996
I recall a few weeks back walking out to a slight breeze with my granddaughter and thinking along this line introducing her to the wind. I just started reading Bear Heart’s book and this line caught me. Many memories of my own as I wander back in time in my thoughts to childhood and even as my own sons were growing up.
My thinking this morning with school coming \up in a few days now I find it is always interesting the first day of school whether as a teacher or student. I recall my own nearly fifty six years ago as I walked into East Fallowfeild Elementary school outside Coatesville Pennsylvania. My teachers name was Ms. Smith and I was in first grade. Every new year since seems I have found myself on a first day of school, as I went through Junior High and Senior High school and into college, even Graduate school now seems almost forever ago and I am still in that process.
“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” George Bernard Shaw
In my years of searching and wandering about stepping on each stone across the stream one foot ahead of the next I have always tried to leave a little better then when I got there. It does not always work but I try. Walking down the hall ways at school always trying to smile joke get others smiling joking enjoying that moment of life.
“None of us is promised tomorrow. Today in all its beauty and sadness and complexity, is all we have. This light we see may be the last such day we have on this earth. There is no certainty, beyond the fact that one day we will have no tomorrow, and that it is not ours to know when that day will be.” Kent Nerburn, Small Graces
It has been a few years since I had to report an incident that was told to me by a student. It is difficult to when told in a sort of confidence yet severe enough to warrant reporting. In my same conversation with this student I was asked if my children ever got in trouble, I said no. The response was; “They have never run away or sneaked out or …..” Again I said no and I asked instinctively if both parents lived at home. They said “no I live with my mom”, and immediately followed with “I don’t misbehave for my dad” and so forth. It comes to be the incident was not a onetime deal it is a regular occurrence and as I talk with parents students I find my life is not “NORMAL”. Being normal is having kids who are in trouble, causing problems yelling at their parents etc. and parents who are hitting their kids drinking with then and worse that is normal.
“On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.” Buddha
I woke up this morning from a vivid dream I was getting my three times a year hair cut and the hair was being brushed away from my neck and I looked at a clock on the wall it was 3:30 and I got up. My dreams are generally simple ones with complexities woven in. I recall as I was preparing for my final presentation on my masters, my advisor Dr. Donna Andrews, continually used the word “weave”. Our project was about weaving all the pieces together. I actually at one point of thought had the idea to produce two covers and weave them together symbolic of that idea.
It is that life is a weaving in reality as I look at each aspect intertwined with the next, a child growing up in the context of arguing and issues finds that is normal and yet asks what it would be like to live in my family where that doesn’t exist. I smile and joke and offer solace for the moment I have with that student not so much as to change the pattern of weaving but to offer stronger thread or a tighter warp to the pattern.
“Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality–not as we expect it to be but as it is–is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.” Frederick Buechner
Nearly seven years back I wrote about the 16 hour syndrome and how as a teacher I had eight hours to undo the 16 parents and friends have. Mathematically it doesn’t work. Logically it doesn’t work and some parents do not want it to work they have chosen the direction for their children and want that only.
“If, after all, men cannot always make history have meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.” Albert Camus
“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Thomas Carlyle
Yesterday I was asked about absolute truths I responded and had a response from a dear friend and so forth a dialogue and the context was a positive one as we shared ideas and thoughts. When I reported the incident years ago it had happened to a student and was told it was ok, it was discussed and that child went home thinking this is how life really is it is ok. Parents and kids do yell at each other and hit each other and throw things at each other, it is ok.
“We dribble away our life, little by little, in small packages — we don’t throw it away all at once.” Robert A. Cook
“Life is a succession of lessons enforced by immediate reward, or, oftener, by immediate chastisement.” Ernest Dimnet
B.F. Skinner once said he could change anything through behavior modification. Who knows maybe he is right. Maybe if we continue picking away and smiling and joking and living life as unnormal as it may be to some others. It will catch on and who knows maybe just maybe when tomorrow comes that child who was asking about have my children ever run away will be asking how much they study each night instead or what books they have read or what college are they going too.
“Every morning I wake up saying, I’m still alive; a miracle. And so I keep on pushing.” Jacques Cousteau
I have a friend at school a breast cancer survivor who said something very similar to me for her “each day is a blessing to make the most of” and you know what every kid who passes threw her door is blessed as well.
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot
It has been now many years ago since I raised buffalo and as I would walk out each morning into the dark I would hear an occasionally snort and blow of air from our bull as he checked the cows and calves walking about in the morning haze. I knew life then and even today I walk out and greet the morning hearing different sounds but still that faint echo of a buffalo snorting in the fog as it drifts in. Life is what we choose to make it and how we weave or how we step into the day is a choice we make. In teaching I emphasis example and having hanging on my back wall in my room a poster from my hippie days 1969 or so of course it is a black light poster. The poster’s title is “Children learn what they Live” and it goes on from there Keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts