Bird Droppings March 29, 2012
Can we change our direction or pathway?
Perhaps I spend too much time pondering and sorting through the metaphysics of life actually I have a doctorate in metaphysics somewhere on my wall along with one in theology and now trying to sort through and finish a dissertation on the art of learning to get my doctorate in education, of course I may be looking into psychology Ph.D. next who knows. Actually I if I win the lottery would like to apprentice to a medicine man in the Dakotas but that is another story. Part of my heathen theology coming out. For a number of years I have used the illustration of a puzzle falling in place to explain life. Many times as I look back over my own life and wonder what if I went a different direction for example stayed in teaching in 1977 my pathway would have been significantly different and understanding of whom I am as well. It has taken me over thirty years to find myself and even now often I am wandering searching for pieces I have missed along the way.
On my bookshelf in Macon in 1977 was a copy of Foxfire II and I had borrowed from it with the kids I worked with in Warner Robins. The ideas in the book provided me with insights into a style of learning and teaching borrowing from John Dewey that really made sense to me. My journey led me back to teaching in 2001 and to a teaching certificate which the only graduate school that would take me was Piedmont College. I was teaching at the time on a provisional certificate since my undergraduate degree was in psychology. In the course of my masters I saw Foxfire materials around the education office and as I started my specialist degree was invited to be in first Foxfire teacher class at Piedmont. So I became entrenched in Foxfire some of the photos on the Foxfire Fund website are ones I have taken over the years. Something so simple a book I found that intrigued me in 1973 or so and thirty years later my dissertation is based on it. It is hard to explain my searching and understanding as each day I gain insights and understandings I did not have the day before.
“We cannot change anything unless we accept it.” Carl Jung, 1875-1961, Swiss psychiatrist
Perhaps I should consult my Jung texts on my dream of a red tailed hawk in my old back yard from my childhood and how the hawk follows me around or I should say I see a lot of red tailed hawks. Jung was a great believer in dreams and dream analysis and in part this led to his split from Freud. For myself I have been torn on the idea of change and what part we can play in this great cosmic drama. Can we alter our part? What if we redirect the lines and switch characters in midstream?
“Whatever the universal nature assigns to any man at any time is for the good of that man at that time.” Marcus Aurelius
There are two basic premises in reality one we are the center of the universe that each of us is a focal point and many people do feel that way. The other is we are simple a small piece of a much larger puzzle, one insignificant little piece yet without it the whole is not complete.
“The men and woman who make the best boon companions seem to have given up hope of doing something else…some defect of talent or opportunity has cut them off from their pet ambition and has thus left them with leisure to take an interest in their lives of others. Your ambition may be, it makes him keep his thoughts at home. But the heartbroken people — if I may use the word in a mild, benevolent sense — the people, whose wills are subdued to fate, give us consolation, recognition, and welcome.” John Jay Chapman
A deep thought though I would beg to differ. Maybe it is how I read the passage yet I cannot help but think of Albert Switzer and Mother Theresa who gave up promising careers to help others. Giving in to fate I do not see these two great humanitarians as such but as embracing life and leaving self aside so they can help others. Perhaps it is our own definition of what is real.
“Whatever limits us we call fate.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I do think we become limited by semantics by words that try and define and offer parameters to perhaps limitless ideas and thoughts. We all seem to want parameters to whatever we do. I watch teenagers setting boundaries and limits and barriers every day. Some will be cultural and societal, others closer to home perhaps religious and spiritual. We want definition in our lives we want to be able to say well this person is this or that. We like stratifying and categorizing in our lives. I was working with a student on test scores trying to explain two people could have tested exactly the same on a personality test and still be totally different people. While a test is normed and validated it still has its limitations.
Some people see far more in a Rorschach inkblot test and details while a less artistic person may only see a face or a rabbit. A few days back another teacher was telling me about an optical illusion and how a student could not see the old woman in the drawing only a bird which was never there. Picasso saw myriads of color and shapes and we see a hodge podge of paint and call it abstract or cubist for lack of better terminology to define and delineate his work. I enjoy Eric Carle famous children’s book artist and writer and his use of colors and image to portray his work. Maybe we should simply say it is Picassian or Carlianian unique to the artist who saw differently than we other mortals.
I enjoy reading Edgar Allan Poe and had the experience of talking with and assisting in publishing an author’s work years ago who confessed being the incarnation of Poe, ridiculous as it may sound. It was a bizarre period in my own life as I spent many hours on the phone and in reading his work. First of all he looked like Poe and he was an idiot savant. He could spin words and phrases instantly. When he would meet you he would literally immediately give you a poem often handwritten in beautiful calligraphy or an acronym of your name. He would write a poem each line starting with a letter from your name spelling out your name and literally analyzing your personality.
While working with this fellow as weird as this sounds crows would literally flock to my yard hundreds of crows, all day at my house which was in a pasture. When I sent the last of his work to him the birds went away.
“When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.” Carl Jung
I related this story a few days back but draw upon again. Reading over the years I came literally by accident one day upon a book, I was floundering business wise and saw an ad for a free business analysis. I called and was assured it was free and would I sign to use this consulting firm if all went well in the analysis. I signed and for two days a gentlemen came and informed me I should close my doors. Not really a shock since my largest customer had changed from print to software and was a major part of my business. After submitting his business thoughts he told me about a book he thought I should read “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield. It is sort of a new age book he said.
He wrote the name and author on a piece of paper which I stuck in my wallet for my next trip to Borders. It was several Borders trips later and I forgotten about the book and while walking down an aisle a book fell and hit me in the head literally. Surprisingly enough guess which book. The book contains nine supposed insights recorded in ancient times and written in an archaic ancient language not used in 3000 years. Anyhow the point is here is the fourth insight from Redfield’s book.
“The Struggle for Power – Too often humans cut themselves off from the greater source of this energy and so feel weak and insecure. To gain energy we tend to manipulate or force others to give us attention and thus energy. When we successfully dominate others in this way, we feel more powerful, but they are left weakened and often fight back. Competition for scarce, human energy is the cause of all conflict between people.” James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy
As I read this earlier all the struggles and attention seeking of students versus teachers, and of Carl Jung teachings sort of fell into place. We draw energy from others to replace energy we are lacking. We are lacking because we are not generating but simply using sort of a parasitic relationship. I have over the years developed a chart on student teacher feedback which could as easily be people to people feedback. One the lowest most primordial level is parasitism, where we feed off others energy. The second level is symbiosis and this is where each one needs the other independently of each other and yet inseparable. The third level is osmosis, where energy is freely given and exchanged back and forth.
Albert Switzer and Mother Teresa worked in this way, they never sought energy but received in the giving an ongoing exchange. I see daily students and teachers who exhibit bits and pieces of each of these forms of human interaction. Going back to my starting quote, understanding where you are and why is paramount to changing, and the ability to growth and truly being able to help others and yourself. I went out into the rain a few days back, a drizzle of sorts and cold. Rain has a way of quieting the air and forest. It was literally silent, muffled by the rain and heavy air. Our dog does not like the rain and scurried back inside, curling up in her blanket as soon as she got into the garage. I sat down unsure of which direction I would go today and wandering as I do often I sent a couple emails and posted a status on Facebook before getting my thoughts clear. But perhaps my point is we need each other, we do need interaction and we can change. We are not at the mercy of fate and or some cosmic puzzle unless we choose to be, yet we are all part of that puzzle as well. A paradox of sorts as is so much of life. Today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and most of all too always give thanks.