How many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky?

Bird Droppings February 15, 2015
How many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky?

I have started to get up later with a week off from school and almost missed the sunrise. I went outside and sat listening to the sounds of morning and started my wife’s car to warm it up for her. I drove into my favorite store to grab a drink and wait on the last sunrise before break is over. Now these events in and of themselves are not for many significant since most folks would simply say well so what. I wanted to get an early start to the day and sort out all of my procrastination and hopefully get caught up. I have several reports to ready for meetings for after we come back from break some extra time to get finished is always good. Hopefully later today I will be taking pictures of a few remaining herbs in my herb garden and maybe get some additional gardening done.

Yesterday morning as I walked to my car just looking at how the light is reflecting off of everything about me got me to thinking back to walking out into a beautiful clear sky and stars everywhere. After running into town I went to my quiet spot with a smudge stick and feather and stood facing the sunrise for what seemed hours and turned to be only fifteen minutes or so. I was watching the smoke circle in the slight breeze fading into the dawn. Yesterday I read a post from Dr. Carla Goddard, Shaman Medicine Woman. It is not that it is new to me smoke is often considered by indigenous peoples to be a message to the great creator or simply to meld into the energy of all that is. A special ceremony is coming up that she will be attending and she will take a prayer stick which will be added to the fire.

“If you have an intention of healing that you would like carried to ceremony, we would be honored to carry it. A prayer stick will be created with the intentions of all who request it added upon the stick. On Saturday evening, in ceremony, the stick will be carried to the fire while the prayers are lifted in the smoke.”

In days gone by I used a similar sort of ceremony using pebbles. In Creek and Cherokee tradition you could pass your troubles to a pebble then toss into a quiet pool of water watch the ripples dissipate and feel better. I would have a bowl of pebbles and an empty bowl and tell youth to think about a problem while handling the pebble then place it in the empty bowl. In the afternoon several of us would go and toss pebble into quiet water. Granted it would be much better if you tossed your own but every time watching the ripples move across the water I would lose the physics of the movement and simple watch the art and soothing of the vision.

“Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.” Henry David Thoreau

What is about a man who lived well over a hundred years ago that could have an outlook so deep and encompassing. I sit and read his words and always am in awe. Thoreau’s thought is a very simple message if only people could grasp the understanding and meaning. It was interesting as I looked towards the sky my back yard amphitheater almost felt like it was centered on the little dipper. Over my shoulder a little better than a new moon barely visible out through the pines and oak trees. The air was cold and clean fresh might be a good word and while silent today I could imagine the chorus frogs were hard at work trying to shake off a slight chill. That might be a good air freshener name, “a clear starry night”. How that could be interpreted perhaps in the great bard Bob Dylan there is an answer.

“How many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky? Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry? Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” Bob Dylan

So many groups and individuals have covered that song over the years. But the words caught my attention again. How many times must we look up before you can see the sky? My wife called my attention to the sunset a night or two ago, and as I walked around this morning drawn to a mist laying across the grass and it seemed my pictures are literally haunting with the faint fog coming off the ground going back a day or two to photos I took of several sunrises with the fog hanging along the ground.

As I was looking last night and turned to my left a constellation that always catches my attention. Perhaps it is because a friend showed it to me so many years ago. It is the constellation, Cassiopeia which forms a running W. Of course I read it was placed there during the campaign for president along with all the cute W bumper stickers back when George W was running for president. For several weeks during the last election when I first saw them I thought all those cars were filled with astronomers.

“How many years can a mountain exist, before it’s washed to the sea? Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free? Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn’t see? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” Bob Dylan

Such powerful words when you read them. It was a trickle of water than formed the Grand Canyon which is three miles wide at some points all from a trickle of water over many millions of years, washed to the sea. But I get caught in the second line, how many times can, a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn’t see. I look at news and see investigations into politicians and we have allowed through our own voting electing these people who misused our votes, or did they. Maybe we are as guilty as they are and as greedy. It is amazing how public opinion about wilderness dwindles when gas prices soar or when news media features stories about pricing as was the case today. Recently just a few years ago for the first time, First Nations in Canada has allowed the white man into very sacred lands to photograph and publish articles about the Spirit bears of British Columbia. We hear arguments about the Keystone pipeline daily and how important it is and how China will get that oil if we don’t put this pipeline in. Canada has turned it down by a vast majority of public opinion going to the west coast of Canada because it would go through this section of wilderness where the spirit bears live and endanger two hundred and fifty miles of coastline. Eighty percent of Canadians are against the pipeline to the Pacific so we were the second option not the first. Surprisingly enough the oil would not be for us anyhow it would still be going to china the refinery designated for the oil is for exports only.

“There must be some way out of here,’ said the joker to the thief. There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief. Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth. None of them along the line know what any of it is worth. No reason to get excited,’ the thief, he kindly spoke. There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke. But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate. So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late. All along the watchtower, princes kept the view. While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too. Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl. Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.” Bob Dylan

I think I heard this song by several others before I ever heard a Dylan version. This is my son’s ring-tone on my cell phone, All along the watch Tower. Many years ago watch towers were along the walls guarding cities and countries and guards were there to watch for enemies. In the song the princes kept a view but I have quoted an entire song for one line. Perhaps because I really like this song be it Dylan’s own version, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and or Jimmy Hendrix’s but this line catches my attention.

“There are too many here among us that think that life is but a joke…. “So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”

The inevitability of life ending is a focal point for many and that is death. So many folks view life as never ending. I read blogs and listen to comments from teenagers all day and none of them seem to know what it is worth. Most feel there is plenty of time. A few weeks ago on a Friday as I was trying to explain to a senior for him to graduate he better start now and get his act together he responded he would later in the semester, there is always time.
Life is far too short and riders are approaching. Life is like a fuse lit on one end always getting shorter. Sadly sometimes it will get cut off prematurely. But it never gets added to and at some point it will end. Savor each moment never waste, squander and loose precious moments with family and friends.

“If I can’t help somebody with a word or song. If I can’t show somebody they are travelin’ wrong. But I know I ain’t no prophet an’ I ain’t no prophet’s son. I’m just a long time a-comin’ an’ I’ll be a long time gone.” Bob Dylan

I wrote in an email yesterday a prophet is never recognized in their own lands. I learned that many years ago in Seminary. I think it may even have a biblical twinge to it. My youngest son put one of my favorite Dylan albums of all time on from 1975 or so, Blood on the tracks, in my car the other day. One track I have to play as soon as it is on.

“Life is sad, life is a bust. All ya can do is do what you must. You do what you must do and ya do it well,” Bob Dylan, Track 10, Buckets of rain

Few songs and albums bring back memories like this one does for me. It is in Macon Georgia about 1975 searching as always. But, “you do what you must do and do it well”. After talking to the young fellow I mentioned about graduating and starting this last semester now to try and succeed rather than waiting till the end of the term. I thought back to 1967 when I was in high school and all I wanted was to not be in high school and it did not matter where I went to college since it would be to avoid the draft since getting drafted at that time and going to Viet Nam was every boys fear. Getting drafted in 1967 meant Viet Nam so I went to college. I officially started my career as a student; actually it was not until a few years later I started being a student. My freshman year was not too great in student terms. At that time I just existed in the space allotted. Sometimes borrowing from John Dewey, “It takes experience”. Learning can only come with experience, if only we had enough time to experience all in life. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind 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)

1 thought on “How many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky?

  1. The Questions on My Mind
    (to the tune of Blown’ in the Wind)

    How many times will it take till we know
    that all children don’t learn all the same?
    How many times will we not turn our head
    And see the harm done in testing’s good name?
    Yes, and how many years will it take till we show
    that it’s not the children we should blame?
    Please hear my words, my friend.
    Don’t lie to our children.
    Make learning fun and meaningful for all.

    How can we teach to a child who’s not there
    a child in poverty and more?
    How many times must we search for a cause
    that’s hidden by a single testing score?
    Yes, and how many times will the children cry out,
    “Get us out of this rotten testing game?”
    Please hear my words, my teacher
    And try real hard to reach her.
    Make learning fun and meaningful for all.

    How many subjects must we lay by the side
    and only work on reading skills and math?
    Yes, and how many hours can our students explore
    all the skills to continue on life’s path?
    How many voices must cry out in the dark
    that the tests fall far from the mark?
    Please hear my words, my friend.
    We’re hurting our children.
    Make learning fun and meaningful for all.

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