Families and Friends

Bird Droppings November 23, 2012

Families and Friends

 

The holidays are getting here soon and this semester is drawing to an end or perhaps a beginning as we get closer to the start of a new semester at school. We were one of a few schools that have a week off for Thanksgiving and we will be out a few more days yet. This is a time when celebrations abound, a time to enjoy family and friends. It is a time traditionally to be thankful. It is a time for families and friends to share and be shared.

 

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.” Anthony Brandt

 

“The family is the nucleus of civilization.” William Durant

 

We read and hear so much about how families are having problems in our world today. Yet within it all there are families that are together and that are strong and will persevere. As a teacher I know I need to set an example and provide a haven for some of these kids who are struggling because of family issues and little positive family time at home.

 

“My family begins with me; your family ends with you.” Iphicrates

 

“The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.” Thomas Jefferson

 

As I am getting ready to spend the better part of the next three days with family it is energizing for me to sit and ponder here this afternoon. A vast array of happenings my wife and I along with our two of our sons, daughter in law and grandbaby traveled to Warner Robins to celebrate Thanksgiving, Saturday is the big game of the year Georgia Tech and The University of Georgia, one off the greatest rivalries in the southeast and in two weeks we get to meet our new granddaughter. So along with it all the family gatherings, lots of good food, watching football games, playing video games, driving to and from all the activities and just being with my family it all makes the next few days exciting.

 

“In every dispute between parent and child, both cannot be right, but they may be, and usually are, both wrong. It is this situation which gives family life its peculiar hysterical charm.” Isaac Rosenfeld

 

My wife and I both grew up in tightly knit families and have cousins as friend’s not just relatives that are situated somewhere on a map. Growing up we all had a special time as we gathered for reunions and holidays. I am still in close contact with my high school friends of now over forty five years ago, still emailing friends around the country keeping tabs on their families.

 

“If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love friends for their sake rather than for our own.” Charlotte Bronte

 

“Friendship is the only thing in the world concerning the usefulness of which all mankind are agreed.” Marcus T. Cicero

 

As I looked for quotes today and read, there were many that were biased and or self-centered both in references to family and friends. I was somewhat surprised. But in this crazy world or instant gratification and nonfamily traditions what is to be expected. What do we have to gain rather than a sharing or a caring attitude, actually it was difficult as I read so many negative thoughts. So often I have found we have as people become so hardened to others.

There is a series of little books by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal entitled Small Miracles that is a reminder not everyone is hardened. I read a story from one of their books a number of years ago. The story was of a young Jewish man who was frustrated with life and his current condition. He left his family to seek enlightenment in India and for years studied under various holy men and such in India. One day a friend from New York City came through the town he lived in and informed him his father had died. In all of his travels he actually thought one day he would make amends with his father. He gave up his spiritual journey in India and went to Israel to try and reconcile his feelings and felt his ancestral home would be a good start.

He asked a stranger as he walked into Jerusalem, where is a good place to start to find his history and faith? He was directed to the Wailing Wall. In all the cracks of the wall were tiny slips of paper with prayers and dreams written, stuffed in by the thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands and some perhaps thousands of years old as the tradition went back many years going back to the early temple built by Herod the Great of which the wall is part of. He tearfully wrote a note, a prayer to his father asking forgiveness for all he had done to him leaving and denouncing his faith and family. He went to the wall and as he went to place his tiny scrap of paper in a crack fell out.

He went to replace and it fell again and then a third time till he was compelled to read the note that continually was falling out. He carefully unfolded the tiny piece of paper and it was a prayer, it was from his father. Written nearly a year ago asking forgiveness from his son for him not believing in him and wanting to apologize for all the bad words. Needless to say he fell to his knees and sobbed for many hours. This is such a powerful message and is a true story as written down by the authors of Small Miracles.

Why even bring this up? For many years I have felt we are all here with purpose and reason. So often we forget and side step our journeys and travels. Actually if you get a chance look up this series of stories in Small Miracles, all are true gathered by the authors as a testament to our connectedness. But as you journey and travel along the road try and mend fences not tear them down, try and lift up rather than knock down, try and enlighten rather than darken lives and as a elementary teacher from many years ago told me always smile. Today as we head into a holiday and holiday weekend for many people keep all in harm’s way in your heart and on your mind and always especially this time of year give thanks namaste. One last thought as wars wage worldwide may peace be with you all.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

Determining what it is we need to know

Bird Droppings November 21, 2012

Determining what it is we need to learn

 

“Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know — and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know — even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction — than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.”Isaac Asimov

 

It amazes me to listen to students say I am passing I have a seventy percent and that’s good enough. I sometimes wonder if students really learn anything from day one till day seven hundred twenty one or do they simply regurgitate data and information to pass tests. My son commenting as he took SAT’s several times the more he took math classes the better his scores and conversely one semester he did not have an English class and on his SAT score dropped a few points. So even for a good student is school simply a memorizing forum.

 

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

 

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

 

I found when I began looking for answers learning became easier. When answers were being given to me in a mandatory sort of way such as in going to high school I learned less.  Even in college for many years learning was considered mandatory and it seemed a dulling experience. I have observed many students and what they learn if they want to learn a topic the read about it the look up information about it the desire to learn.

 

“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 

 

For some time I had tacked this quote on the end of my morning Droppings and have it posted on my room wall. How can we make our teaching so potent? How do we get information we teach to be what students want to learn?

 

“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of face within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity” Calvin Coolidge

 

“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

 

As I think back a few days to the concept of a democratic school where students pick and choose topics for discussion and learning each week I have been amazed as I talk with teachers around the country who use this method and are having success. It would be difficult to plan for a standardized test perhaps in that style of democratic class room. In Ashville North Carolina there is an elementary school using The Foxfire Approach to Teaching and they are scoring twenty to thirty points higher on State mandated tests than other schools in their district and even significantly higher compared to state averages.

In Georgia did I mention for example (we had the Quality Core Curriculum which has evolved to Georgia Performance Standards and now evolves to Common Core) where very specific determined material is taught in specific determined ways. For example item number 123 might be the classification if segmented worms and item 123.1 may be differentiation of segmented worms. Somewhere someone determined in Biology that that item was crucial. It may be a history item about George Washington’s false teeth made from wood or which landing craft was first on Iwo Jima but someone determined it was critical to know in high school and must be taught. Talk about teaching to the test.

 

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.” St. Francis of Assisi

 

“Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.”Sophocles

 

How would we know what it is we need to know and how would teachers know what it is we need to know in order to teach us? Using standardized tests provides a vehicle to measure but then we teach to that particular test or do not teach to it. If I know what students need to know before I start the class then I will gear the class to learning and even possibly understanding before the test. So in effect we teach to the test. We teach what someone somewhere has deemed necessary for a student in that grade and time and that may or may not be what that teacher or student wants to learn. This is where the issue is.  Which then brings back to students tend to learn best when it is something that they want to know and realistically teachers teach far more better something they want to teach.

It would be a sad world if parents were told they had to teach their kids so and so today and tomorrow it would be this and that. Now that I think about it maybe that is not so bad. Except that then someone somewhere will be saying what children will be taught and when and how. That system just closed down in Russia a few years back so if our goal is to train social animatrons to fill the factories as Karl Marx once indicated the goal of education was well guess what we are doing that again. Somehow we need to bring back creativity and critical thought and get away from this mass effort of everyone needs to know the same thing.

 

“If you wish to know the road up the mountain, ask the man who goes back and forth on it.”Zenrim

 

Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and be sure to always give thanks namaste.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

Can we listen through our heart?

Bird Droppings November 20, 2012

Can we listen through our heart?

 

It has been several years since found on my many excursions to Barnes and Nobles a small book that I would like to share some passages from. I found many of the thoughts and passages to be of significance and enjoy sharing words of wisdom with others. I have several students in advisement who are interested in going into nursing and many thoughts in this little book relate to health and spiritual care as being one and the same. The little book, Listening with Your Heart, is written by Dr. Wayne Peale MD, a medical doctor and an Iroquois on his mother’s side.

 

“As a medical student I was being trained to hear hearts with my stethoscope, but found I was missing a great deal by not listening with my heart” Dr. Wayne Peale

 

I was giving or proctoring an End of Course Test last semester during the fourth period.  One of the questions was from a poem or passage about a colt that was not winter-broke. I liked the term winter-broke. For those of us in the south perhaps it has little meaning and perhaps a culturally difficult passage. The term winter-broke is about being use to the winter, snowflakes, cold, steam from your breath and other idiosyncrasies of the cold. A baby horse new to the world would be spooked with a new snow fall. Maybe chasing snowflakes or running from in the case of the story.

However as the question was answered for example was the author; D. empathetic to the plight of the colt. Other answers used words such as afraid etc. One of my students asked what is empathetic. Being a language arts test and such I could not impart or tell the definition of an answer. I saw my book on the table when I returned to me room and pondered as it was so hard not to say the answer because I too lived by empathy.

 

“The white man talks about the mind and body and spirit as if they are separate. For us they are one. Our whole life is spiritual, from the time we get up until we go to bed.” Yakima healer

 

For several weeks I have been dealing with a situation and a student who is on the verge of being expelled and much if it from my own fault. The student is refusing to do a required program. In refusing to do the assignment he is getting irate and argumentative often to a point of school disruption. When you carefully look at the student’s disability each aspect of it is in responses that are given, lack of control, obsessive behavior, emotional issues, anger management issues and authority issues. A slight change and the problem could be solved. Why not do the same work in a different manner? Of course it is not in the confines of “program” which would upset administration. Should empathy for the student stand up to, trying to stay in the box? As Dr. Peale learned and points out sometimes you need to teach from the heart as well.

One day perhaps I will study linguistics and language. As I looked through Dr. Peale’s book a Navajo word caught my attention.

 

“Hozho (HO-zo) – A complex Navajo philosophical, religious, and aesthetic concept roughly translated as “beauty”. Hozho also means seeking and incorporating aesthetic qualities into life, it means inner peace and harmony, and making the most of all that surrounds us. It refers to a positive beautiful, harmonious, happy environment that must be constantly created by thought and deed. Hozho encourages us to go in beauty and to enjoy the gifts of life and nature and health.” Listening with your heart

 

In a recent writing seminar the lead teacher offered that reading a passage can aid in eliciting descriptive phrases and sentences, and to encourage students to illiterate and expound on ideas more so. Here is a word that has so many meanings. A simple word is hozho, yet so much meaning. I end each of my daily writings with a Hindustani word and have several times offered the translation when people ask. Within its own language there are different meanings for different people. For some it is a salutation a simple hello or goodbye. If you go a bit further south in India you would only use namaste with reverence and literally bow your head pressing your hands together honoring the person you are speaking with, with your simple salutation.

It has been a few months since I wrote about making a rope strand by strand. A dear friend from up north wrote back thanking me and later in the day responded with this note.

 

“Thank you for sharing them with me.  I sent this one on to my husband, my sister and sister-in-law and my best friend.  Thru this most difficult year losing my beloved son, they have been constants in my life — united we stand thru this valley of darkness.  Without their love and support, my grief would be unbearable.  Peace my friend.”

 

Empathy is assisted healing from the heart.

 

“…healing is a partnership with others – family members, community. A Native American healer once paraphrased Abraham Lincoln to me: ‘you can heal some things all of the time,’ the healer said, ‘and you can heal all things some of the time, but you can’t heal everything all the time alone.’ Everyone needs a coach, a family a community.” Dr. Wayne Peale MD

 

Sometimes when I receive a note from the heart it is difficult to answer immediately. I have to sit sometimes even sleep on it. My dear friend lost a son. Many the times since hearing of her plight I have wondered what would it be like to lose a son, a daughter or anyone close to me. Empathy is a difficult word at times like these. It is a much bigger word than most would imagine.

Our house is such that our two of our bedrooms rooms are up stairs and two are down stairs they literally go from one end of the house to the other. Being that my writing and reading time do not always correspond with normal sleep patterns the family when home will be asleep when I am about to write or read. Hearing the sounds of my family asleep often is a peaceful and wonderful feeling. Knowing they are safe and here at home. Then the so many what ifs have crossed my mind as I walk through the house early in the morning thinking about what if the rooms were empty.

Lost in a moment of melancholy I come back to teaching in my thinking. Teaching is about healing, it is about community, and it is about family and most of all it is about empathy. It is about seeking and engaging constants in our lives so we can move forward and or change directions if need be. Teaching is always about learning. Sometimes as I came to realize yesterday and have so many times before our nice boxes we are supposed to teach from are not always the right ones. Sadly far too many teachers do not use heart as a teaching tool. Far too many parents do not or cannot use heart as a parenting tool. As I look at the title of Dr. Peale’s book, listening with your heart, what a powerful message.

I am doing an exercise using a black and white picture of a bridge most will simply see a picture, while others have created fantasy worlds of trolls and fairies. Some simply explain their perception and how we each are different in what we see and hear. Often I will play the devil’s advocate and argue both sides. It is just a bridge to elicit responses or what if it was a work of art created by an immigrant iron worker as a tribute to his or her new freedom. Coming back to, Hozho, my new word.

 

“Every action should be taken with thoughts of its effects on children seven generations from now.” Cherokee saying

 

If only we would deal with kids with life that way. What if people in general looked at life that way? Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts. It is about being in your heart. It is about speaking from your heart. But most of all it is listening with your heart and always giving thanks namaste.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

 

 

Adversity is a bridge not a stop sign

Bird Droppings November 19, 2012

Adversity is a bridge not a stop sign

 

“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem.  Everything else is inconvenience.”Robert Fulghum

 

It was perhaps two days ago two years ago one of the teachers at school in an email to all staff mentioned another member of our staff had been diagnosed with breast cancer. If anything I have found in my sixty three years of living in this reality of life, is that we as an organism are resilient. In my time wandering about I have been carried through the hallways of a polio ward observing other children in iron lungs in one day and gone the next. Yet somehow in that doom and gloom of that era we survived. I have witnessed firsthand the human travesty of mental institutions as a chaplain counseling inmates who never will leave the confines of the walls and bars that held them contained.  Then sadly many were released to perhaps a crueler world in that of homeless America when so called budget cuts were made.

 

“We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way.” “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.” Authors Unknown

 

As I came through college and a war in Viet Nam so many of my friends died while I gained knowledge. Yesterday in my travels we watched the sun rise and set all in a day. So often we get absorbed in the issues the problems and do not see what lies ahead or that something can lie ahead around the turn in the road.

 

“The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.”William Shakespeare, Othello

 

Life continually throw curve balls, be it physically mentally or emotionally and it is in learning to hit a curve ball where in lies the secret and not succumbing to the throes of human defeat. Of course when you learn to hit curves the pitcher in life may throw a slider. There is not a day goes by I do not see the words of this great woman since they are spread in printed quotes on the walls of my class room.

 

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”Mother Teresa

 

There is a bit of humor still in Mother Teresa’s stoicism and humility. Few people ever bear witness to the images that beset Mother Teresa daily as she walked the streets of Calcutta.

 

“We acquire the strength we have overcome.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

A simple thought but adversity does bring strength and gives us the understanding we need to take the next step or to simply breathe that next breath of air.

 

“You can’t run away from trouble.  There ain’t no place that far.”Uncle Remus

 

I recall Uncle Remus from the Disney’s cartoons based on the characters and produced nearly eighty years ago. Even in the Madison Georgia home of the Uncle Remus’ characters you see the Disney art work. In life far too often we run away trying to avoid dealing with issues and there is no place far enough eventually it does catch up I can speak personally to this one.

 

“Enduring habits I hate…. Yes, at the very bottom of my soul I feel grateful to all my misery and bouts of sickness and everything about me that is imperfect, because this sort of thing leaves me with a hundred backdoors through which I can escape from enduring habits.”Friedrich Nietzsche

 

A day or so ago a comment was made about over achievers those that are forever dotting every “i” and crossing every “t”. In my world I call that an obsessive compulsive disorder. Listening to a speaker the other day who was being perfect, as they spoke I was thinking obsessive compulsive not perfect. Understanding our frailties and weaknesses can make us strong.

 

“If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round.  Trouble creates a capacity to handle it.  I don’t embrace trouble; that’s as bad as treating it as an enemy.  But I do say meet it as a friend, for you’ll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.”Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

Perhaps it is in acknowledgement of trouble that we can overcome. It is true we learn, we grow, and we do develop a capacity to overcome adversity.

 

“The healthy and strong individual is the one who asks for help when he needs it, whether he’s got an abscess on his knee or in his soul.” Rona Barrett

 

“Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.”Garrison Keillor

 

So often we fret over things that in truth are simply a part of life and fretting will not take it away it is in knowing how to deal with and living with that makes the difference.

 

“Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.” Erich Fromm

 

You have to get through the trials before you can savor the victory.

 

“I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.”Jewish Proverb

 

Perhaps the most powerful quote today as I look back in my own life and that of those of friends and family. If we all looked at life this way what a world we would have perhaps there would be no more whiners.

 

“Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take.  You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack.”Author Unknown

 

Such a good illustration as I ponder that one in my mind and how true. The big issues we seem to deal with but those sharp tiny ones sneak in there and stick us in the butt.

 

“How can something bother you if you won’t let it?” Terri Guillemets

 

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” Frank A. Clark

 

“As long as you keep getting born, it’s alright to die some times.” Orson Scott Card

 

“Bad is never good until worse happens.”Danish Proverb

 

Even though the smooth pavement is so much easier to travel on I do prefer a bump now and again to keep me awake. I was thinking of the ripples alongside the interstate highways before bridges they really do wake you up thinking back to younger days and driving straight through from Georgia to Pennsylvania over the weekends to see friends. In life sometimes we need a ripple or two to keep us going.

 

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”Walt Disney

 

Walt Disney was one of the great optimists of our time. Back in the day he had the vision to see pine flats, orange groves and swamp and envision a city, an amusement park unlike anything ever built before. As I look back all from drawing a little mouse.

 

“Adversity is like a strong wind.  It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.” Arthur Golden

 

“There’s a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out.”Lou Reed

 

From Eastern thought the yin and yang, opposites that need each other so you can truly see what each is. That black and white we can call the contrast of life.

 

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”Mary Engelbreit

 

So much of life is how we see it and what we do about it. A new week please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and as I head into a holiday week thinking of close friends who need our support and concern as they deal with the pieces of the puzzle that life has provided to them. May peace be with you all and may we all give thanks especially in this week of thanksgiving namaste.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

why do we not pursue Silence?

Bird Droppings November 16, 2012

Why not quietly pursue Silence?

 

I was standing in my back yard listening. There was silence. As I stood how easy is it to find fear and or solace in silence. Many horror movies over the years and of course books for those of us who still read feature silence in all the buildup. How difficult is it to find silence? By chance today our sky is overcast and low which helps muffle the sounds of nature.

 

“Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail, no personality can disturb us.” Thoreau, Henry David

 

Sitting here in near silence in my kitchen working at my computer is relaxing and somewhat peaceful. The chill of the morning brought me in. I seemed to have forgotten to put shoes on and my bare feet were getting frost bitten. I took my dog’s advice as she ran for the door. I have always enjoyed the calming effect of silence. But in a paradoxical way silence for some can be an effective torture. Taking away that sensation and limiting to only ones thoughts can for some be overcoming.

 

“The Pause; that impressive silence, that eloquent silence, that geometrically progressive silence which often achieves a desired effect where no combination of words, however so felicitous, could accomplish it.” Twain, Mark

Silence is a mighty sword in the hands of a warrior or poet. Yet why do we seek silence why do we try and find a place to wrest away from the hustle and bustle of today’s world? Perhaps it is a contrast we seek. An exact opposite to our daily lives of running around, as if there were no tomorrow. Perhaps silence allows us to see beyond?

“Silence is the true friend that never betrays.” Confucius

 

“Silence is the genius of fools and one of the virtues of the wise” Pope Boniface VIII

 

“Under all speech that is good for anything three lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as time” Thomas Carlisle

 

I do find rest in the quiet of a forest or field. Often I will try and get away from everything put all aside to have a few minutes without the trappings of our cluttered world. I often wonder at the loud bellowing booming music often spilling from cars as they vibrate with bass so loud the cars are shaking. A joke around the house was a movie featuring a rock band only known for being loud. They were asked how they could be so much louder than all the others and responded they turned up to eleven on the volume, no one else can do that. I thought my son was joking and should have known better as he has had his band experience much more than I. I was in a large music store outside Atlanta and I checked the Marshall Amps, traditionally the biggest and baddest of all amps. They only went to ten. Pondering I recall a Ted Nugent concert that was built up to be so great. I walked in and walked out far too loud and too crude in the music coming from his amps. Might have been a sort of fortune telling event since I still nearly forty years later find him loud and crude and irrelevant.

So I wonder can I find that place where sound and noise is reversed and find a negative one. Set it to one point on the dial less than zero and a very silent amp. I seriously doubt anyone would applaud a really silent amp or rock band. Well maybe parents and folks parked next to those cars with fifty inch woofers. Could that place of ultimate silence be where you can truly find solace and peace?  I attended another concert over thirty five years ago in the Fox theatre on Peachtree Street. After having played for an hour with his band Harry Chapin strode on the stage harmonica in hand and sat at the edge of the massive Fox stage curtains drawn shut. The crowd fell silent you could hear a pin drop. He began singing and there was not a dry eye in the house. For nearly thirty minutes he sang and played harmonica with no speakers, no amps and no band. We were in awe and between each note silence.

 

“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule.” Thomas Carlisle

 

For many seeking spiritual boundaries and finding doorways past where we are silence has always been a key. The great mystics of days gone by would retreat in silence often for days. Shamans and holy men seeking visions to guide their people would seclude themselves and find silence in order to delve deeper into their own existence. With many indigenous tribes it in silence you understand rather than in speech. Many times the used car mentality of white leaders considered the silence of the chiefs to be a lack of understanding and in reality it was one of respect and thorough understanding. All through man’s history silence has been a place of spiritual findings. Yet it too is one of fear for so many.

 

“A horrid stillness first invades the ear, And in that silence we the tempest fear.” John Dryden

 

Perhaps when we encounter something we are not accustomed to it is when we fear. Those seeking silence are on their own trying to find answers. Most people are content with the noise of the world. Being thrust into silence could be confusing. As I stood listening to see if the morning was truly silent after about ten minutes or so a rooster cut loose and I knew I would open my eyes to the world I left briefly in the quiet of the morning. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

 

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

Can we mold our day and proceed in life?

Bird Droppings November 15, 2012

Can we mold our day and proceed in life?

 

Morning is a special time a beginning of sorts for each day. For me several aspects of taking our dog out, sitting down, writing and reading have in many ways become a significant part of my day. I walked out this morning and felt the coldness and humidity of perhaps one of our coolest and wettest mornings this fall. As I looked out earlier standing on the concrete barefooted, far off across the trees the big dipper was just rising above the trees and the stars crystal clear in the patches of clouds against the morning darkness were breath taking.

 

“Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It’s in our hands.”  Cathy Better 

 

I recall a day several years back as I left my room second block I usually go through the guidance office and say hello to several people, one was missing. I noticed and never questioned as the day drew on I sensed an absence yet still had not questioned. I grabbed another counselor for a meeting I had yesterday morning. As the day ended I heard from a friend that her mother in law had passed away and she had been at a funeral.

 

“It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them.” Evangeline Cory Booth

 

“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

 

Last night I sat down thinking and trying to put down words, so often anymore evenings are just a time to fall asleep. I was looking for pictures that may have significance as I continued to piece together my first book. I emailed several people last night just touching base and wishing happy birthdays.

 

“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

 

Thinking back as I moved through that day several years ago sensing something was amiss and even after knowing it is difficult to offer from a distance any sort of comfort. Most people as the day finished never missed a stride they never knew. There were a few tears from her friends and those that knew of the situation as most passing of souls seem to impart.

 

“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

 

I have used this quote many times over the years and each time it seems appropriate. I remember as a child chasing fireflies across a meadow gathering those life forces in a jar to light my room and then releasing into the night watching them float away in the darkness after my curiosity was satisfied. I also remember a few years back watching our great American bison bull snort in the meadow and his breath floating across the pasture in the chilled air within a hundred feet of our porch.

 

“It’s not how long life is but the quality of our life that is important.” Roger Dawson

 

“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.”  Charles Dickens

 

In 1996 my little brother passed away and my family was faced with a new beginning. We all had literally built our lives around my brother. He was severely disabled and our being in Georgia was directly related to his schooling and my father’s company moving. As we celebrated his life reviewing the intricate webs that were laid each moment, the many people touched, and lives affected in what seemingly had been and was now an enormous out pouring of life.

 

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really merely commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the planning, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, working through generations and leading to the most outer results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

We each approach the morning in a different way. I embrace the day and begin with my writing and watching each moment unfold. Since 1996 I have taken many different roads and journeys and as I look back each has had meaning and direction and led me to here and now.

 

 “Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler

 

I explained in detail how several years ago I received a call from my nephew that a friend had been in a car accident and as the day proceeded I spent the night in the Athens Hospital holding a young man’s hand as monitors beeped and droned and he lay unmoving, hoping that the numbers on the dials would change. When I arrived home on my computer was that quote from an old Aerosmith song. In 1968 as I left for Texas I received a book from my parents and on page 596 the following quote.

 

“To everything there is season, and a time, To every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

 

Many years ago Pete Seeger, a folk singer and environmentalist wrote music for these words and a song was born, “Turn Turn Turn”. “To every season turn,  turn, turn there is a season turn, turn, turn and a time for every purpose under heaven”, what powerful words and a few years after putting music to the words, the song became a hit, sung by a group remarkably called the Byrd’s.

 

“Nothing is beneath you if it is in the direction of your life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.”  Robert Frost

 

So often a poets words offer comfort or give direction back to a journey when we are set off course, it may be in one moment or a lifetime. There is no filling of a void yet when looking at life and all that has been and will be. When we are looking at the journey to now there truly has been no void. There has been a turn in the road a new direction and all that has led to this point. Our journey in life has not really changed and it is there behind us lifting us guiding us strengthening us as we continue along the way.

I remember back to a photo of my son crossing a stream in north Georgia already sopping wet from falling in but still intent on making it across, stone by stone crossing the stream. We all can cross in our time and there are times when a hand is welcome to aid in the journey. Years ago I set up a website for a youth group and today I will close with the starting line from that website, “Friends are never alone”. Keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and today keep those friends who may need extra support close at hand and always be sure to give thanks namaste.

 

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

Can we give more than one hundred percent?

Bird Droppings November 14, 2012

Can we give more than one hundred percent?

 

It has been an interesting week and past weekend. As I started out trying to get perhaps more done that was humanly possible it still was nonstop and rather exciting.  Even though Georgia Tech has not had a great year in football there is a chance they will be playing for the ACC championship. I need to mow my knee deep back yard and till my garden still. I have a dishwasher sitting waiting on a drain pump so there are many started projects ready for a holiday week off next week.

I took a few moments to sit in my quiet spot before calling it a day yesterday and calmed down my adrenaline a bit from running a hundred miles per hour all day. In one of my readings recently the author suggested taking a few moments to pause and listen. To try and listen to the earth and sounds from nature. It is difficult to sort through the manmade sounds, cars, dogs barking, and various other noises from our technology. As I sat though I heard or should say I was focusing on the sounds of the world. A few crickets even in the chill were chirping away and several birds ending their day singing away. As I sat a chorus of crows was cawing to my right across the field.  I felt at ease as I listened intently for five or six minutes. After I finished fixing dinner and a few minutes of family time I retreated to my writing area and put on some old Neil Yong tunes. I find it is always good to bring back the 1970’s and who better than Yogi Berra to start my Bird Droppings with today.

 

“You give one hundred percent in the first half of the game, and if that isn’t enough, in the second half you give what’s left.” Yogi Berra

 

I remember when Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra played for the Yankees, a great team player and catcher and later in life a coach. It was back in the day and still now again a yogism would make the headlines, a profound statement somewhere in a jumbled bit of the English language. It may take a moment to rationalize what Yogi is saying perhaps several minutes but always within is some whimsical piece of philosophy well worth the sorting and distorting of the English language.

 

“I want to be remembered as the guy who gave his all whenever he was on the field.” Walter Payton

 

It was not that many years ago, Walter Payton played for the Chicago Bears “Sweetness” was his nickname as he ran over every team they played. Whether the Bears had a good or bad season, Payton always was near the top in professional footballs rushing and receiving stats for running backs. Never would you hear an announcer even hint at Payton not giving all. Throughout his life Walter Payton lived at a hundred percent. When diagnosed with a rare form of cancer he went to work promoting research and organ transplants even though his own illness was too far progressed for a transplant of his own. His legacy lives on in his charitable foundations.

 

“I don’t believe people die from hard work. They die from stress and worry and fear — the negative emotions. Those are the killers, not hard work. The fact is, in our society today, most people don’t understand what hard work is all about.” A.L. Williams

 

Many of you may not remember the name but it was not that many years ago Mr. Williams lived in and around our local Walton County Georgia. When he started he was a PE teacher with an idea and when he retired selling his company to Prime America, and at that time he was worth several billions of dollars. Art Williams was known for his hard work, day in and day out.

 

“A jug fills drop by drop.” Buddha

 

Years ago I recall a bucket sitting under a dripping pipe and one drop at a time does not seem to be much but the bucket would fill every time.

 

“I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.” Abraham Lincoln

 

As I rode home yesterday I came upon two runners going down the road near my home. I cautiously approached not wanting to run over them but as I came near I noticed I recognized them, teachers at the High School. I made a comment about how cold it was and was asked how fast they were going, 10 mph, but I was going faster. As I thought later you know what they still got where they were going. Maybe they were not as fast as I was but eventually their goal was attained.

 

“It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.” John Wooden

 

As I think back on days gone by and various games played usually nearly always folks are concerned about who starts. Who’s on the starting team is the heroes chant and never ever does a person brag about who is on the finishing team. Yet those who have made it have completed the game, the task, and they are truly the heroes and the victors. Life too is not about whom starts the game; we all do, but who you are when and how you finish the game. It is about the journey my friends and may we all find that destination we seek. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird