Horses and Trains and learning

Bird Droppings January 8, 2014
Horses and Trains and learning

It has been many years since I last rode on a train. I mean a serious train going more than the distance between concourses at an airport. Years ago when I lived in the Philadelphia area, we all used mass transit to commute, to go “downtown,” to get around and to even travel a long distance, say to Florida. Trains are not quite what they used to be. Many of the true passenger trains are now extinct and the only other trains seem to be freight and rapid transit within big cities.

It has been nearly fifty years since diesel engines replaced the giant steam locomotives that plied the tracks from Scranton, Pennsylvania and the rich anthracite coal regions to New Jersey and New York, hauling the fuel of the times on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. I have long been fascinated with the great trains of the past and perhaps because Mr. Frank E. Bird Sr., my namesake and grandfather was an engineer on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western coal trains from 1900-1946.

I do not remember much of my late grandfather, even though we traveled from our home to see my grandparents as children many years ago but the images of his being an engineer have stayed with me. Sitting by my desk at home is his engineer’s watch a rather large pocket watch known for its remarkable ability to keep nearly exact time. I am told my grandfather was proud of his silver watch and its weight in my hand as I ponder makes me wonder at how much our world has changed.

“One returns to the past, to capture it as it was and as it hovers over the present” William Pinar

But the past is part of who we are and within us in the present in our imaginations and memories. We need to avoid making the past all we are for each minute we live we are creating a new past.

“Our lives may be determined less by our childhood than by the way we have learned to imagine our childhoods” James Hillman

As children we are fascinated with trains and even now in this day and age of digital everything and computers we still have trains at Christmas time. There are still electric train sets for sale it amazes me. I always wonder at the fascination so many people have with trains. What is it that intrigues us so about trains? When the giant steam locomotives pulled massive freight trains cross-country the enormity of the engines and power were drawing cards. In literature trains always are featured. In one of the literature classes we are reading, listening too, and have just watched the new movie of John Steinbeck’s classic
“Of Mice and Men”. In the movie the story starts and ends with George’s reflections as he rides a freight train to his next town.

My early interest and fascination grew as a child and in 1954 I woke up to a Christmas morning and a circular track of a model Lionel O gauge steam engine and train set around our Christmas tree. It became a family tradition and that set was a family fixture for many years. When I had children of my own it was pulled out again and set up nearly thirty years later although this time it ran its circle around the dining room table trying to give a piece of my childhood to my children.

“Memory is an aspect of who we are” Dr. Marla Morris, GSU

“Memory is the raw material of history, whether mental, oral or written, it is the living source from which historians draw” Dr. Marla Morris, GSU

I was trying to share my past with my children as my father had passed down to me. When I was a child my father would often tell stories of my grandfather and the great steam locomotives he would pilot. Occasionally he would pull out an old engineer’s cap or lantern of my grandfathers to add some visual excitement to the stories. Still sitting on my mother house on the shelf is my grandfather’s kerosene lantern from the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.

There is a surreal aspect to these massive metal machines, intertwined with our music and imagination trains are a fascinating piece of our being. Trains are an element of the industrial revolution yet linked metaphysically to us, it could be the size and power, the getting us from point A to point B.

I will wander a bit and take my morning thinking away from the subject of trains, and to another mode of transportation but still in line with my thoughts. It has been a few years since we sold our draft horses Rick and Blue, a team of dapple gray Perchron horses. Each horse stood over six feet at the shoulder and weighed in at well over a ton. Rick and Blue were big powerful animals. They could pull anything. I was asked to talk to a group of parents one night at a function and needed a visual aid to get my point across. An aspect of that discussion was narrow mindedness. I brought along the harnesses from Rick and Blue.
The massive leather harness’ weigh over 85 pounds each and include a set of blinders for the horses. The blinders kept the horses from being distracted and only allowed the horse to look forward. I used that example to show how so many people can be like the draft horse and get stuck only seeing one thing, one direction at a time and are unable to look to either side or to see anything new or different. Granted there are many ADHD students I wish I had blinders for.

So am I really wandering today or what does a set of horses and trains have to do with one another? They are both big and powerful and trains much like Rick and Blue go in a straight line down the track no side trips no going off the tracks. I was talking the other day with another teacher about taking a journey on a train and how that train goes from point A to point B. We then pick up what we need along the way. I ended up comparing the journey to education and to learning.

As I thought of the train tracks and how so many of us get stuck simply following the tracks I thought of all the knowledge waiting sitting along the way but off the tracks. This knowledge could be away from the tracks and or hidden from the straight and narrow. I wondered what it be like if tracks were flexible and we weren’t limited by that straight line. We could go where the best ideas were and the best methods and we could really load the train full instead of simply picking up what load we can along the tracks.

I put an Aerosmith CD in my car today as I left the house and track four or five is a song “Amazing” which contains a line that I hold dear. Several years ago my oldest son, the night after a very dear friend was killed in a car accident left a sticky note on my computer. It was a simple line actually a quote and yes I have used it for a quote of the day now many times. It is interesting how we also have this quote on the wall outside the cafeteria. The note was a line from an Aerosmith song, a Stephen Tyler original. “Life is about the journey not the destination”. We get so caught up in the destination, for example getting to the end of the tracks following the curriculum to a T or the “TEST” at the end of the semester that we lose sight of all around us, we lose sight of the journey. Our journey and our students is teaching them to think and if they think they will learn

So how do we get to point B and really still get there with as much as we can possible load on the train. We travel and we gather as we go but we are fortunate we can leave the tracks if we chose. We can go sideways. We can go back. We can go forward. One thing that is so crucial is we all need to remove our blinders and see all that is around us and live each moment of the journey.

“Piercing through the illusions of modern life is extremely difficult, given a culture where advertising and other media forms are organized so persistently to produce mass public deception” Gerald Smith

Smith points to an ongoing issue we have in finding who we are and why. The illusions Smith points out, “obliterate the lines between fact and fiction”. We get so caught up in what we are being told we are and why we soon fall on the straight track or go through life with blinders on. In order to dig deeper into we have to understand who we are as an individual and how we translate and comprehend our realities and how people see us.

“Freud, Jung and now Lang (among others) were digging underneath the surface of their lives, trying to uncover the roots of what is experienced on the surface” Gerald Smith

“Maybe this is the time to embark collectively on a new long journey inward, not for the purpose simply of celebrating our personal or collective subjectivities, but for the nobler one of laying down the outward things that enslaves us.” Carl Jung

I have wandered a bit today and maybe a bit too deep into ideas and thoughts that I find intriguing and puzzling. I once referred to the term of herding instinct that people tend to herd, want to be in groups. We so want to take the easiest route. I looked at apathy yesterday. We live in a time where we want things to be simple and easy. I want to simply get to point B not have extra sightseeing along the way. Sadly so many people live life that way. They live with blinders or follow a pre-laid out track and never get to know there is so much more. A student asked a question this morning dealing with biology. The question was about global warming and how some people say it is not occurring and yet so many are saying it is. There are folks who will never admit to and or even suggest some ideas have truth. They are caught up in there veil of ignorance. Watching the news and the impact our current war is having on veterans, the number of those in harm’s way is growing exponentially Please keep them all on your minds and in your hearts and remember to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Intuitiveness and being there

Bird Droppings January 7, 2014
Intuitiveness and being there

I have always thought that teachers need to be two things intuitive and empathetic. Both require an element of compassion and caring. I wonder often how people teach without these capabilities. Over the last week with several other teachers we have been discussing this in detail.

I thought back nearly ten years ago to a night I was heading home from graduate school in Athens Georgia. As I came home from my class actually from a midterm in Advanced Behavioral Techniques, I was hungry since I had not really stopped since morning. I knew one of my former swimmers worked at Taco Bell and sure enough she was working and I said hello and headed home. Desert in the wee hours of the day always sounds good and I made a second stop. I went by our local Brewster’s ice cream shop and two of my former advisees were there we talked for a while about uptight teachers and who was not. Always that is an interesting subject as to why do teachers get so uptight or anybody for that matter. As I talked several more students and former students pulled in I met their girlfriends and boyfriends and such, coincidence as always. So often I mention the word coincidence and try to explain it much like I explain intuitive to many who say what.

Recently in a letter to a friend I used the term of we are where we need to be right now at this moment and when we realize that all of a sudden so much more becomes clear. James Redfield, a bestselling author refers to coincidence frequently and when you begin noticing coincidence it happens more often as you become attuned to it. I use intuition in a similar fashion. Essentially as you become aware of your place in the puzzle the pieces all seem to fit better and more clearly.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Carl Gustav Jung

Jung was of the nature there was purpose in all that happened and he and his former partner Freud disagreed on that point. Jung coined a word synchronicity to explain his thoughts in the early 1900’s, things happening at a specific time with specific people seemingly chance but obviously not. Again I see intuitiveness and empathy playing a role.

“His notion of synchronicity is that there is a causal principle that links events having a similar meaning by their coincidence in time rather than sequentially. He claimed that there is a synchrony between the mind and the phenomenal world of perception.” http:// skepdic.com/jung.html

“Some scientists see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in quantum physics, fractal geometry, and chaos theory. They are finding that the isolation and separation of objects from each other is more apparent than real; at deeper levels, everything — atoms, cells, molecules, plants, animals, people — participates in a sensitive, flowing web of information. Physicists have shown, for example, that if two photons are separated, no matter by how far, a change in one creates a simultaneous change in the other. “ A Wink from the Cosmos, by Meg Lundstrom (Intuition Magazine, May 1996)

Somewhere in and among ideas and thoughts are answers. Some people seek answers through religion some seek answers through pure science and others assume there are no answers and sit on a rock. I wonder if I will be picked on and considered elitist for that statement. Each of us can choose our direction and flow. The actual point I was making was when we are aware of our interactions with others that each moment we spend with a person effects not only that person but the next person they see or talk too as we too are effected in a similar manner.

I came away from that night happy from talking with some folks that I had not seen in several weeks and hopefully they too went away a bit happier and this is how life works and if we are aware of this imagine the effect. If I know I will be affecting people beyond my contact with someone I will be more aware of how I affect them and so forth. The old credence of leaving the person you are talking with smiling is true again, is that coincidence, fact or fancy who knows but it sure happens a lot. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

The fragility of life

Bird Droppings January 6, 2014
The fragility of life

Early this morning I was awakened a bit early our dog and I both are getting old and needed to take a potty break. Hearing what I thought was rain and a teenager I assume tearing out of our subdivision about two in the morning did not help my sleep as well. It was around four I turned off the alarm and got out of bed to read and write a bit. Actually some of what I thought was rain was the furnace going on and off with the cold front moving through the state. As it is I am an early riser and I decided to catch up on emails and do some reading. A dear friend sends out numerous emails much like I do and I opened one with the subject line of A letter to the Editor. Over the years I had seen this several times when he would address local or national issues and I was pretty much ready for anything but what he wrote. After reading his comments which were about arming teachers and more gun talk with the political pressuring from NRA and other groups, more recently than in previous years. I did get thinking and most of the effort is profit not constitution oriented. Just think about it of major industrialized countries we have nearly ten times as many legal guns and twenty times more homicides per hundred thousand residents and with every gun control scare ammo and gun sales sky rocket. Is not capitalism a great entity?

“Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is still the mark of an educated man.” Norman Cousins

I got thinking back and in another situation just a several years back a neighbor in our subdivision not the one tearing out at two earlier, was called while in Tennessee to hurry home his daughter had come down with a high fever and was rushed to the hospital. Before he could get to Atlanta she had passed away. Several different issues, a malfunctioning spleen and severe infection had caused her death.

“…when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all being.” Sogyal Rinpoche

As I heard the story from my son who knows our neighbor better than I do. I was taken back and recalled raising three children through all of those years and illnesses and trials and tribulations. My wife made a comment several times over the holidays about how it is a miracle that any child gets to be an adult as she played with our grandchildren almost holding them every second she had available.

It was nearly seven years ago my wife and I both lost our fathers within a few months of each other. I recall leaving my own fathers bedside where he lay still not talking anymore as I drove to hear my son at a choir camp he had attended for a number of years in a talent show presentation. He had become locally famous for his blues harmonica and his rendition and cover of two great singers. Maybe I should say a great songwriter and a singer; some folks will never like Bob Dylan’s singing, He combines Bob Dylan and Axl Rose’s in a duet version of Knockin on Heavens Door. This morning a photo of two hawks together in a tree posted on Facebook by a fellow teacher reminded me of that day.

Mama, take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore.
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark for me to see
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore.
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knockin on Heavens Door by Bob Dylan, 1973

As I drove to hear my son sing I passed a nearly white tall dead tree alongside the road. Sitting guarding the way were a pair of red tailed hawks. Seldom have I seen two together sitting. When I received a call the following morning I knew my father had passed away. I have this song still daily on my mind as I use it as my sons ring tone on my cell phone. My father had lived a full life and we celebrated his life in his passing. Throughout his life my father shared an affinity for Native American culture and understanding with me. It was late in life he had found his great grandmother my great great grandmother was Leni-Lenape (Delaware) who were part of the Algonquin nation. It was later I learned she had been a medicine women. In many societies women hold equal if not more power than men and among the native peoples from tribe to tribe you find some differences. As I was reading I found this thought. Within the Sioux Nation many legends exist of The White Buffalo Calf Woman. She was the first of the Sioux and all came from her. Along with that legend and story is this simple lesson for life.

Lakota Instructions for Living
Friend do it this way – that is,
whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with both your heart and mind.
And if you do it that way,
the Power Of The Universe
will come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in Unity.
When one sits in the Hoop Of The People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related.
And the hurt of one is the hurt of all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do affects everything in the universe.
If you do it that way – that is,
if you truly join your heart and mind
as One – whatever you ask for,
that’s the Way It’s Going To Be.
Words passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman

I recommend for those who have an interest in Native peoples to read Black Elk Speaks. I recall a dear friend offering his copy for me to read nearly forty years ago at Mercer University. Since that time I have given away several copies. The lesson from Black Elk is one of, we are all interconnected and all of life is a circle from beginning to end and back.

“Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle. The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.” Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

My days and evening often end or start with a swirl of smoke. I will place a bit of white sage, sweet grass, several ursa leaves and a few other bits and pieces in a bowl and watch the smoke curl skyward as I ponder the day. The burning of sage and sweet grass is a cleansing act and sacred to many people. Last night I walked out to silence as a light breeze took away what was left of a sunny day and my last day of holiday. As I fanned the embers with a hawk feather and watch the last few wisps of smoke rise a tiny single brilliant white cloud passed by me heading towards the stars and moon.

I opened an email unknowingly thinking this was another political gesture or comment on the financial crisis impacting each of us and found a letter from a father who had lost a son just a few days ago. It was a letter of words he needed to say and many were unspoken. As I went through the day yesterday thinking about how tomorrow I would be surrounded by teenagers and life my thoughts were with my friend and his wife who were grieving the passing of a vibrant and youthful son.

It has been several days since my mother handed me a note entitled, What if I had never been born”. As I read her thoughts addressing myself and sisters and our children she told me the story of her grandfather who should have died in a coal mining accident so many years ago. We talked about how we each have purpose even the smallest amongst us. I often draw reference to my vision I had many years ago of life as a puzzle, a magnificent and grand puzzle. Each piece is multifaceted and minute, yet each unique and interconnected to the next. I try to understand when it seems that nothing makes sense. Each piece of the puzzle is hard to see when alone. It is within the pieces falling in place that the picture is made whole. What if I had died when I stopped breathing numerous times in seizures as a baby? What if I had not come home from the West Chester Hospital when I was three years old and sick with polio? What if I had not awakened from surgery when I again stopped breathing as a teenager? But these pieces of the puzzle those aspects of who I am have made me and it is each piece that provides us with strength and courage to see other pieces fall into place.

It has been nearly fifteen years since my oldest son left me a post-it note with a quote on it when I got home from sitting through the night with a young man who had been in a car accident. I watched monitors bleep and blip and never did they go the direction I really wanted. When morning came he was declared gone. I sat listening to discussions and comments and wondered till I got home and found my note.

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

As I read that letter again from my friend I knew my friends son had loved life, he had made a mark on each of his family members, wife and all who knew him. I thought back to that small cloud passing over my head as I went out last night in my meditations. My friends please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

A chill in the air

Bird Droppings January 5, 2014
A chill in the air

For several days the now we have been below freezing in the early mornings which totally silences the crickets and tree frogs who need an ambient temperature a bit more warm maybe high fifties low sixties. So for today my orchestra was silent as a freeze not only permeated but encompassed our back yard and today was one of coldest of this year at the house. I keep recalling why I like Georgia it is supposed to be warmer. Last night I watched a couple of minutes of college football and I am looking forward to one or two more games yet to play. Walking through the house earlier today I could not get warm it seemed the cold was seeping in the house. Now as I am sitting here writing it dawned on me I may have left the dampener open from a fire the night before in the chimney. However over the years I have found warmth in reading and pondering as I call it. It seems I can always find the right words when I turn a page or two.

“A bizarre sensation pervades a relationship of pretense. No truth seems true. A simple morning’s greeting and response appear loaded with innuendo and fraught with implications. Each nicety becomes more sterile and each withdrawal more permanent.” Maya Angelou

As I move my thinking to students and people in general we balance our lives in a series of trust and distrust often a teeter totter or see saw effect. Often we become jaded and calloused through constant distrusting and soon we respond as Angelou indicates in a sterile manner. About once or twice a year I will pull my old guitar out and play. My fingers at first feel each string and after a while pain will tear through my finger tips from the pressure of strings on flesh. Eventually after several days I will callous my fingertips back.
Rock legend has it perhaps even urban rock myth it should be called is that the late great guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn during a concert super glued his calluses back on when his fingers began to bleed. As I read this first quote, we can become callous we can become sterile but much more is involved. I also sense a similar relationship to my own use of the Hindustani word namaste, both a sterile hello or goodbye for some and for others one of reverence and humility. It is in the eyes and ears of the receiver and the giver.

“Achievement brings its own anticlimax.” Maya Angelou

“All great achievements require time.” Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou writes of paradox of achievement and anticlimax. As I sit and think achievement is an attainment of a goal and with that attainment is a realization of a new goal a new mountain to climb perhaps it is that awareness of the anticlimax and yes most definitely time is always a factor.

“All men are prepared to accomplish the incredible if their ideals are threatened.” Maya Angelou

Maybe most men are prepared would be better. There are many who will still sit on their posteriors. Sitting today reading Angelou’s thoughts is a series of how to and why’s. I have listened many times to Dr. Angelo read her works or discuss topics on talk shows. Her words while calming are twice as meaningful listening to her speak them. There is a passion about her spirit and soul.

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” Maya Angelou

“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” Maya Angelou

“Children’s talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.” Maya Angelou

She is philosopher, poet, writer, activist, educator, humanitarian, civil rights leader, and the list goes on but always children are at the center of Angelou’s thinking and thoughts. Any book that can form a habit of reading is good. What a powerful statement in a society that would ban many books in schools and libraries? While not on the news now periodically we have this or as in a nearby county once upon a time, putting disclaimer labels in science books. I often wonder how when opening a book and a label states what you read in this science book may or may not be true is a good way to start a science lesson.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” Maya Angelou

“Education helps one case cease being intimidated by strange situations.” Maya Angelou

Two words that seem to permeate Dr. Angelou’s writing are courage and education. These two words are constantly mentioned described and eluded to. Perhaps the explanation is in the first of the two statements above, “without courage you cannot practice any other virtue”. As I ponder, education requires courage it is that willingness to achieve to go beyond where you are it requires first courage to make that effort and then education to do it.

“I believe that every person is born with talent.” Maya Angelou

“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.” Maya Angelou

As I saw this I thought of two individuals far apart historically and in many ways yet similar, George Washington Carver and Bill Gates. Both men through vision and fantasy transformed our realities possibly beyond the actual dreams they originally had. My morning would be totally different if not for these two men many of the items used in the kitchen reflect ideas from Dr. Carver and my laptop computer and internet use are directly related to Mr. Gates.

“If we lose love and self-respect for each other, this is how we finally die.” Maya Angelou

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” Maya Angelou

“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” Maya Angelou

We are the beginning and the end of the circle. How we live and interact with others continues and perpetuates the circle. I have never been able to understand why this is so hard for people in general to understand. We seem to be having greed as a human trait. How sad that is to inherently assume man is greedy by nature. Animals only keep what they need for survival. Man is the only creature that hordes and amasses wealth.

“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.” Maya Angelou

Caring and concern begins at home and then spreads out from there. It is not about the face you put on when you need to but that which you truly carry in your heart and live and breathe daily. I enjoy Dr. Maya Angelou’s words. The few times I have watched her on TV and in reading her books that are in my own library. She is a person of concern and of caring. She is trying to do her part in her corner of the world for all of humanity. It is for each of us to try and do likewise where we are in the world.

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.” Maya Angelou

So I end another morning as I have now for some time till everyone listens to Dr. Angelou’s thoughts that ring in my heart today let me repeat this last quote one more time.
“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.” Maya Angelou

It brings tears to my eyes as I sit knowing I need to continue ending my daily meanderings as I have for so many years, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and be sure to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Building Sandcastles drip by drip

Bird Droppings January 3, 2014
Building Sandcastles drip by drip

It was nearly fourteen years ago when I was physically attending classes in graduate school nearly every day and before switching to Internet classes and WebCT. This took some getting used to going to school and then going to teach school. I was teaching from 7:20 – 3:00 students who have had difficulty with a subject and then driving an hour to graduate school from 5:00 – 9:30. Going from teacher to student my day made for an interesting schedule. It was a time of flux for me also getting used to a new computer and new administration changes in our school it really made life interesting.

However it was also around this time my middle son was tutoring several students who had failed difficulty chemistry during the regular school year and now had to pass in summer session. I found it most interesting watching him working with these students. Several times he would help me break bridges in a physical science class I was teaching while he was helping with tutoring. In that particular class we built twenty one inch bridges of popsicles sticks and white glue only and then we would see whose bridge design could hold the most weight. It was very interesting the many differing designs ranged from zero to over eighty pounds in breaking weight.

I also had a side experiment on building pyramids which involved a sand box and in the course of having my sand box set up as I do for this project I built a sand castle albeit a small one. I went back to teaching and as I watched one of my students smashed my three inch drip castle not because I built it just because it was there. Later that same person smashed several of the broken bridges and as I watched observing simply to break them no real reason other than that. It really made me think in light of all that happened that day as I looked back. Some people are capable of creating new ideas new concepts for others to see and also follow. My mind wandered a bit or to complete those ideas and concepts as I was thinking to the great cathedral in Barcelona that will not be completed until 2026. Sadly in among those people are others who see an idea or a concept and simply tear it down not because of what it is or isn’t literally without thought or reason simply to tear it down.

It surprisingly saddened me to watch my tiny three inch castle smashed not through some random wave or step or misstep by a passerby but a deliberate effort. I came back to a thought I used in class many times and in writing my droppings over the years from Kent Nerburn who by education was a sculptor. He writes about when we are born and have a piece of marble to sculpt some create marvelous works of art others drag this block behind and some simply smash the marble into gravel. Last night as I sat thinking it might have been a recent trip to see my son and his wife and our new granddaughter that had me reminiscing about that summer school class. It might be thinking about upcoming classes and pondering my day ahead and into this morning. It is sad the limits that student have imposed upon themselves only to tear down smash into gravel never ever to see their work shine upon a pedestal, a finished piece of art work . One of my students did not turn in a project I knew was complete and failed because of it. I try and figure why?

“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.” Thomas Jefferson

In among our daily journeys we are faced with individuals who choose only to tear down and who would rather simply relish destruction than creation who do not understand lifting up yet we need to continue to try and show there is more to life.

“It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curious of inquiry. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.” Albert Einstein

So maybe it is a miracle as Mr. Einstein says even for my castle destroyer to simply be in school for he chooses to be there he was not forced. Who knows maybe just maybe something will rub off and one day I may find him sitting by a sand box thinking drizzling sand between his fingers into a drip castle instead of just smashing them. So a simple thought for a simple day and as we go about this day, during the holidays we hear less of our friends and families in harm’s way, they are still there thousands of miles away we need to keep them in our thoughts. Sadly politics plays into what is deemed significant for news and far too often that is the case. There are people hurting here in the US and even here locally that we tend to bypass and pretend not to see. So please keep all in harm’s way on our minds and in our hearts and so have a glorious day today and be sure to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

So often in finding answers we create new questions

Bird Droppings January 2, 2014
So often in finding answers we create new questions

Over the past day or so many New Year’s resolutions and advice for next year posting, emailing and even a billboard or two driving home from North Carolina yesterday. With all of the football games being played I got thinking back to one, New Year’s Eve 2008. I was sitting in a huge stadium and I was overwhelmed by the noise and often mob type rule that so often occurs when fans get together. Inside an enclosed stadium like we have in Atlanta the sounds echo and echo even off echoes and become nearly deafening. As I sat there it amazed me how fans boo or cheer starting with one person could soon encompass the crowd. I was thinking back to the movie Gladiator starring Russell Crowe and a comment by the bad guy who uses the coliseum to control the crowd, the mob. Individualism is lost somewhere on row 125 seat 6 section A.

“Our faith comes in moments… yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was wondering after reading a comment yesterday and thinking back to that bowl game we attended and of course it was a Georgia Tech game. I was as always pondering of sorts as to what and why we think as we do which is a constant process for me. As I thought comfort is a factor, just being comfortable even group pressure could be comfortable if you go with the flow so to say. It sounds good perhaps this could be an answer. Someone else told me and well I do not have time to think about it really in a large stadium with the decibels literally through the roof there is no time to think to ponder to even clear a thought. As we gain in age it becomes easier to look back and see where thoughts evolved from and how and or they were imposed on us. Somehow I can always go back in my Emerson notes and find a simple explanation such as the quote I started with today.

“To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty… this knowledge; this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.” Albert Einstein

“Non-violence is the article of faith.” Mahatma Gandhi

“All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light, but though I seem to be driven out of my country as a misbeliever I have found no man yet with a faith like mine.” James Joyce

Searching midst others thoughts and dreams Einstein so often accused of being without faith but as I read his letters and ideas there is very much the opposite as he so often was on the fringe of thought as most people understand. Gandhi looking at life and reality through the eyes of a mystic saw in non-violence the essence of man, as man could be if worldly matters did not interfere. I thought to my experiences and of that bowl game and if mob rule did not interfere. Then as I read Joyce’s comment it is interesting how some people see no faith in men of very deep faith. These three by many standards are men of no faith to many people yet their comments and writings truly indicate otherwise.

“Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.” Soren Kierkegaard

Easy words easy thoughts from a seemingly impossible definitive word we each ascribe our own thoughts to faith. We each try and place a value, a norm upon what we see as faith. This may be where the difficulty arises. A simple word has so many pathways, for each thinker a new avenue opens, for each individual heart a separate door is there. Looking back this could be where religion tried to focus combining various faiths various ideas and focusing allowing individuals to free up thought and ideas for other gain. Perhaps this is why so many have packaged faith so to say. I could see someone walking to a mike last night midst the drunken football fans and taking over the crowd, here now believe this and now you can go about your business and the crowd would follow that person.

Einstein’s difficulty with conventionalism and with organized religion perhaps was this factor that thinking was removed and it became a mote point which for him was wrong. I was reading one of my son’s Xanga entries from so many years ago and was intrigued by the rational that he found. All of existence is somehow intertwined and that with math equations that can be developed to resolve all issues and to provide basis for all. Granted my son is thinking in math terms that I am totally unaware of but it was of interest to me. While a bit beyond my own math thinking as you look at reality and while chaos theory exists and is a mainstay in many thought processes there is structure and consistency, even if we often do not see it. As he mentions in his passage from Xanga, “equations we have yet to learn” there is so much out still to be found if we continue thinking and looking.

Often we human beings decide we have found it and quit thinking. When each doorway leads to another and each idea only clarifies the last and makes another possible why should we stop. Perhaps the vastness of the stadium and the magnitude of all I was immersed that evening in 2008 in did truly over whelmed me as I sat there watching a football game. Today is a new day the first of a new year and in this day whenever possible keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird