An owl calling

Bird Droppings February 29, 2016
An owl calling

Last night I woke for a few minutes as it turns out I forgot to turn on the ceiling fan. While up I stuck my nose out the door perhaps intuition who knows when wandering about the house half asleep. Deep in the pines an owl called and of all memories to unlock an instance three years ago flashed before my mind’s eye. It was about three o’clock in the afternoon a little over three years ago I was made aware of a situation that at first caught me by surprise. A former student from years gone by had been arrested in another county and was being held for immigration to be deported. She had been in the US since she was three years old and was raising her three kids here. As it turns out she had never received a green card and her boyfriend of seven years as well was illegal. Both had worked and she had graduated from high school where I knew her as a student. I was asked to go see her as along with all of this she has a specific learning disability in reading.

I seldom bring up being ordained but being ordained has certain privileges and after all scheduled visitors are permitted into the jail pastors can go in. So I went in and I visited for nearly forty five minutes with one of my favorite students of all time at the county detention center. We talked about how seven years ago she had come to me with a big what if. She proceeded to tell me a friend of hers is pregnant and what could she do and who should she go to. It only took a few minutes till I realized the friend was actually herself. I recalled how she sat on the sofas in my room propping her feet up as she completed school while pregnant and would come in my room to rest.

She nearly came to tears as started talking about her babies who I have pictures of hanging on my door at school and have held and laughed with several times. I said no crying since I did not want to cry in front of a former student. We talked about jail food and how as soon as she was out she wanted a homemade tortilla and eggs and all the trimmings. It was nearly nine when I walked the almost half mile from the visiting room to my car which in my haste had locked my car keys in and had to have a police officer help me get into. As I drove home I recalled all of the publicity of illegal aliens and immigration laws and how business men provide jobs at a cheaper rate. A recent article on banks in bailout of applying for nearly twenty one thousand visas for white collar positions since they can get foreigners for less money in attorney and accounting positions over US citizens.

I thought of a young girl who had worked and had finished school and raised three kids and was being held because of where she had been born not where she was raised and grew up and gone to school and yet we have people receiving huge bonuses who created and caused one of the worst financial crisis’s in history walking around free and going on vacation. I was mad when I got home thinking of how greed had driven our society to where it was.

I wrote some of this a little over three years ago however last night early in the morning a great horned owl called several times waking me up and brought back many memories and thoughts beyond the memories of a wonderful person who had been sitting in a jail cell away from her kids.

I sat listening even though half asleep as I do every morning and today the pine needles have made a lace pattern in the spaces between the twigs against the clarity of the sky. The sky is cold and clear and stars are everywhere as I wandered out. When I first went out a faint chorus of crickets greeted me or so I thought but it was the cold ringing in my ears, but off in the distance a great horned owl called. It has been several days since a student at school asked if I knew what an owl meant. It is funny how bits and pieces of memory come back.

It was not all that long ago that several times a student reminded me to call her mother about the pow-wow coming up in the spring. Her mother coordinates the local Native American gatherings and dances. Perhaps this is what got me thinking as many southeastern tribes consider the owl to be a harbinger of evil or dread. For some eastern tribes an owl calling was considered a sign of death, as you move across the Mississippi the various tribes attitude about owl’s changes. Owls become symbols of power, of wisdom, of a fine line between here and the spirit world.

Owls calling in the dark, it is a haunting sound for one person and darkness yet a few days ride away the same haunting sounds bring light. As the weather warms up I will hear owls nearly every morning often several will be calling to each other. It has been sometime since I was up in the North Georgia Mountains with my middle son on an environmental field trip. We stayed at a spot I consider very special, Camp Mikel, a summer camp owned and operated by the Episcopal Arch Diocese of Atlanta.

The camp lies in a valley along two ridges. The cabins are on one ridge and across the fields and marsh another ridge and the camps famous cross on top of the mountain. The camp has an ongoing program with a group that provides for school educational experiences in the mountains on habitat ecology and environmental workshops. It was about nine o’clock and our group went out onto the playing fields with a tape recorder. We started calling owls. In a matter of a few minutes several were calling back. Owls in our area range from a tiny screech owl to the great horned owl.

One of our other exercises during the day was dissecting owl pellets. It seems owls eat various creatures and the parts which are not digested are literally barfed up in a ball and dropped usually at their roosting spot. Scientists can study diet and health of the owl population through the pellets. One of the students in our group as they opened up the brown mass of their pellet uncovered a skull. Soon several of us had found skulls of shrews and mice rats and squirrels. Our instructor was interested in this first one it was different and carefully cleaned it off. It was a screech owl skull. The great horned owl had devoured the smaller owl.

As I thought of my morning, pondering what the day would bring and listening to the Great horned owls calling all around me the sense of oneness with nature was over whelming. Back at my environmental retreat I did learn each owl has a very distinctive call. I was also intrigued at how we all surmise differences in the same stimuli, not only the owls and owls calling but it could be in words used in a hallway at school. One person hears humor another slander.

“The Lenape Indians believed that if they dreamt of an Owl it would become their guardian. To the Mojave Indians of Arizona, one would become an Owl after death, this being and interim stage before becoming a water beetle, and ultimately pure air. According to Navajo legend, the creator, Nayenezgani, told the Owl after creating it “…in days to come, men will listen to your voice to know what will be their future” California Newuks believed that after death, the brave and virtuous became Great Horned Owls. The wicked, however, were doomed to become Barn Owls. In the Sierras, native peoples believed the Great Horned Owl captured the souls of the dead and carried them to the underworld.” Deane P. Lewis, Owls in mythology

I was listening several years ago to several students, for one what appeared to be just a comment became words to fight for and I had to intercede. I listened as one of my students in a group exercise about the classic novel The Time Machine by H.G. Wells said if she could go back in time she would go back to the civil war and tell the south how to win the war. If she had been telling me that I would have expected it knowing her and her family but her group consisted of two Afro-Americans and the comment offended them.
My student probably was not even aware of her comment being offensive; she has serious issues with social skills. But the same words in another group of students here in rural Georgia may have been accepted and applauded. It could have been the exact same words and yet a significantly different reaction. I heard the owl and sought to listen deeper.

How do I respond to a person who hears only the dark side and believes only darkness? How do we listen and try and rationalize words with so many meanings so many interpretations. A college student from South Georgia was writing about how we change society. I offered by example but that is so difficult only one person at a time. In life we interact each day. If we maintain our example and interact in genuine trust and honesty that connection will be seen and understood and eventually copied.

Not everyone will make the connection but some will and those will continue the call. I heard the owl today and I will listen tomorrow and I will tell others and maybe one day who knows. Take each moment and each second live as you whole heartedly believe and live with trust and set the example. Others will see and hear and soon two people and soon three and maybe before the end of times we can all hear an owl in the same way. Maybe peace will be a word spoken and understood in the same manner tribe to tribe family to family person to person. Maybe the puzzle pieces will fall in place and the final picture will be one we all can be proud to have been a part of. So please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.

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

Is it about random acts of kindness?

Bird Droppings February 27, 2016
Is it about random acts of kindness?

I was a bit later than I planned to get started this morning. I have a long day of writing for school and personally today. I got up this morning and my son’s faithful dog decided I did not need sleep late. He was quick to run outside and then wanted right back in the house. It was close enough to seven o’clock that I went ahead and got up did a bit of reading and thinking. I used to in previous days use Friday’s for the great skittles challenge day and I would do up a rubric, word search, cross word puzzle something with vocabulary or material we have been going over and the first ten or so would win a pack of skittles. One I liked a lot was a Secretariat skittle quiz. I am a big fan of the great chestnut horse two times, American Jockey Club Horse of the year and with also a very good movie to his credit. Reviewing some horse facts it was 1948 when Citation won the previous Triple Crown and with Secretariat’s win at the Belmont, in a track record, that still stands Secretariat made his way into history.

Over the years the challenge has changed and in order to support our FFA I get Chik Fila sandwiches from club on Fridays. I do make the challenge harder each week. This past Friday the challenge was a president challenge and each student had a different president to find information about. Yesterday I had a student get upset and that hopefully will not continue into next week although we had a student/teacher valuation and I am sure that fellow is my outlier. One thing that has amazed me in our hectic world is how many people forget there are others around. I read an earlier Facebook post from a student and the main theme was, how does this help me. I hear and feel that from many people, a very self-centered view of reality.

“When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.” Rabbi Harold Kushner

When I first read this earlier I passed over it and read some from the Dalai Lama and a bit from Emerson. It has been some time since our hometown high school class website had started into the political realm, arguing and presenting issues and rationales for various and sundry campaigns and politicians. Looking back on former presidential candidates as I scanned through Yahoo news both sides hammered on the same nail in different directions perhaps. It was Maslow that said, “If all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.” I am amazed at how much material our politicians provide for late night comedy. They are literally providing material for Saturday night live and other satirists. A couple of years ago the mayor of Dearborn Michigan emailed Senate candidate Sharon Angle about her remarks that Muslims had taken over Dearborn and that it had been put under Shari Law and asked where was she getting her information.

“It is my belief that whereas the twentieth century has been a century of war and untold suffering, the twenty-first century should be one of peace and dialogue. As the continued advances in information technology make our world a truly global village, I believe there will come a time when war and armed conflict will be considered an outdated and obsolete method of settling differences among nations and communities.” His holiness the Dalai Lama

As I sit this morning aside from reading numerous articles in the National Geographic magazine, about Africa, I have not paid much attention today to the news coverage. Many years ago I was a youth leader in Macon Georgia and one of the youth, a red haired young lady, gave me a Bible for my twenty third birthday gift. I still have that book and the handmade felt cover that is tattered and worn. I thought a few years back of calling the number one day in the back of that Bible and getting her mother. After a few minutes, nearly an hour of conversation, I found out my former student was living in Africa, her new adopted home working in the mission field not converting heathens but providing daily care. We so often pass over the good deeds for the more news worthy stories of war and violence. Millions have died in civil war and famine in Africa funny we do not hear about it maybe there is not enough of what we want there.

“The United States is not a nation to which peace is a necessity.” Grover Cleveland

“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” Moshe Dayan

These two quotes present a contrast of sorts with a United States former president and an Israeli hero of war and also of peace.

“Think not forever of yourselves, O Chiefs, nor of your own generation. Think of continuing generations of our families, think of our grandchildren and of those yet unborn, whose faces are coming from beneath the ground.” T. S. Eliot

So often we tend to be caught up in the now and forget one day all we do will be reflected in the faces and lives of our grandchildren. Perhaps as I get closer to retirement and old age although most of my students would say I am old it is hitting more close to home. We get too immersed in today in selfish pursuits of wealth and power, wiping out an entire species, for profit, is fine. It is about destroying wilderness, to make a quick buck; it is fine leveling a country for fun and money.

“Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.” Albert Einstein

“When you’re finally up on the moon, looking back at the earth, all these differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this is really one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people?” Frank Borman

It has been many years since I was privileged to visit a high school 45 miles from here we always have preconceptions about what the children will be like, teachers and such as I talked to the journalism class, one of the girls made a statement that stuck with me, “What did you think we would be like”. A loaded question I really had not said a word and already being put in a corner, had someone already poisoned me to who they were or weren’t. I had been to the same school a few days earlier for a band competition and was impressed. So I was very positive walking through the front door the band program had been very successful so maybe I was biased positively although from the tone of the girl’s voice, I think she was expecting a negative response. Now I had heard horror stories about this school. Interesting fact was, I used to know several administrators there and all I have heard was where they were going, not about where they had been. There were no previous administrators dragged through the mud, no excuses just here is where we will be. Positive goals and building up rather than tearing down. There was a lot of taking down walls and removing barriers between students and teachers, administration and teachers, and parents and the school. There is little difference in making peace in a high school and in the world the playing field is different but directions are similar.

“There never was a good war or a bad peace.” Benjamin Franklin

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I am sitting here thinking this morning after watching a beautiful sunset yesterday and a possible a glorious sunrise today and wondering where tomorrow will lead. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind 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

Doing what you love is not really work

Bird Droppings February 26, 2016
Doing what you love is not really work

“To love what you do and feel that it matters, how could anything be more fun?” Katharine Graham

It seems I learn something every day as I wander about the internet and books I find along the way. My life’s journey the past eleven years has been one of excitement and constant challenges. Back when I closed my business of twenty three years and left publishing I first tried to stay in that industry but very few companies hire older folks in sales. I had been away from production far too long and computers had replaced most of what I had done when I started out doing graphics by hand. I had been talking with our graphics teacher at the high school and literally the graphics industry is now almost totally on the screen in front of you. No more negatives and paste ups even plates for presses are generated by computer direct to press. Publishing is literally in the palm of your hand.

As I write each day I enjoy sharing the words and thoughts of great thinkers. One note of interest is as I find quotes I tend to either save or use directly in my writing however today the starting quote is from my father’s book of quotes that he had saved over the years which is a three ring binder full of quotes he had used or was pondering using. This quote caught my attention as it is how I see teaching for me. I Love teaching and each day I am working with students I feel it matters maybe not today but one day. As I looked up Katharine Graham I found that in her time she was one of the most powerful women in Washington. She was the publisher of the Washington Post and it was with her permission the Watergate scandal was reported and published. She was on the elite social list in Washington and personal friends with John and Jackie Kennedy, Jimmy and Roselyn Carter, Ronald and Nancy Reagan. She never had to sneak into White House functions which seem to be the fad these days.

As I looked further into her life and very interesting as her husband was for many years CEO and publisher of The Washington Post however it came to be known that he suffered from Manic Depression and after a series of nervous breakdowns and residential psychiatric treatment took his own life in 1963. Upon her husband’s death Katharine took over the company and through careful planning built it into the company it is today. I found the following quote that hit me as red further.

“We live in a dirty and dangerous world…There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn’t. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.” KG, speaking at the CIA Headquarters in 1988

As I watch our news and media sources banter about half-truths and often totally misleading stories I wonder as to is there material even in our high speed world that needs to be withheld. So often in apocalyptic movies the president hesitates from telling everyone the earth is in line to be hit by a planet size asteroid and destroyed, or that the sunspots are flaring up and we will be crispy critters soon. Is it better to panic and get crushed in the milieu or simply not know and fry at some point in time? I come back to my original quote and for me it is finding that place in the circle of life that makes sense to you and that you enjoy doing. For me it is teaching. I recall when I was down about not finding work in the publishing world and my wife kept saying go back to teaching you really enjoy that. I was at the right place at the right time. Synchronicity as Karl Jung would say. A very progressive principal had just had a teacher quit due to a nervous breakdown and a job opening was there working with Emotionally Disturbed High School students. Next thing I knew I started back to teaching September 11, 2001.

“I teach because, for me, it’s the most effective and most enjoyable way to change the world. That’s the bottom line: We need to change this world, and this is the way I’m choosing to do it. Teaching allows me to work on hearts and minds, to guide people in becoming empowered, literate, engaged, creative, liberated human beings who want to join in this effort to change the world.” From the blog of Elena Aguilar School Improvement coach from Oakland, California, 2008

I am talking with former students and teachers of the Foxfire Program in Rabun County and in other Foxfire teaching settings around the country. I am finding that so many former students were influenced beyond the academics of the classes. They had each a different story but as I gather the words together each was influenced in a positive manner and each has used what they learned as the go about their journeys in life. I happened to find a site discussing a book based on the idea of why I teach. Each section of the book draws from teachers around the country and their feelings towards teaching. I like this concept of a life-toucher.

“As a teacher, I want children to leave school with a social conscience, an appreciation for diversity and life, a thirst for learning, and an understanding of how knowledge can allow them to achieve their dreams. I also want them to leave the classroom with good memories because, since teachers are life-touchers, we want to be a part of children’s childhood memories. Other teachers might not admit this, but I will: Even if I might never get to hear it from their lips, I want my former students to recall their time in my class. I want them to remember something worthwhile, great or small that happened there. I hope that my students will remember my class not because it was perfect, but because of its unique flaws. Hopefully, they also will remember that I was a teacher who truly cared and strived to teach them. This is my definition of a life-toucher.” Kerri Warfield, Visual Arts teacher, Westfield, MA

As an active teacher I hope in my own way I am influencing kids positively so they can better managed the journey ahead. Perhaps my own rationale that it is equally about that life journey as well as academics learned along the way is in contrast to the current teach to the test idea that is driving education now. Sadly it is a long time later that the daily life touches as Kerri Warfield states are seen. It might be ten years after you have a student and you see on Facebook a father holding a little boy and discussing how much something meant to him back in high school. That something just happened to be a small gesture you made giving a book or a word of advice in time of need. I guess I had too many directions to go today and as I wind down, as always please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

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

Looking for data in a data-less environment

Bird Droppings February 25, 2016
Looking for data in a data-less environment

I read earlier this morning a dialogue of sorts from a young man who is currently serving in the military. He is trying to decide on his future as he pieces together in his dialogue options and possibilities not just in his immediate moments but days ahead and in the process asking for suggestions and thoughts on the various options he presents. It was interesting reading and moving through his process of elimination and multiple choice responses almost while in the first person from a differing view analytical and calculating. Essentially his process was taxonomy of job futures. If then this and if that then this. I began to think back to my own choice nearly sixteen years ago to return to teaching after a twenty plus year vacation away.

“I’d rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate.” George Burns

I could easily wager most of you have never seen George Burns on TV or in a movie but then he only recently in the past few years passed away at 100 years old. George Burns and Gracie Allen were a husband and wife comedy team staple dating back to vaudeville. Gracie passed away many years ago and George continued acting in films and on the stage for many years always with his trade mark cigar in hand.

“It’s simply a matter of doing what you do best and not worrying about what the other fellow is going to do.” John R. Amos

Several years back I designated my class room name as SUCCESS 101 in a joking sort of way. Yet for some students being a success is a unique proposition. Cheering on all students in school has become a passion for me, coaching, leading, guiding students to succeed on tests and papers and to eventually graduate from high school has become my mission in life.

“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.” Pearl S. Buck

Perhaps I am passing by Mr. Burns original point it is not simply success that is important. Mr. Amos adds “doing what you do best” and community is added by Ms. Buck noted anthropologist and student of humanity. It isn’t only about success it is being happy and finding joy within what you do.

“Success is important only to the extent that it puts one in a position to do more things one likes to do.” Sarah Caldwell

“Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile.” Pierre Coneille
Even on days when you could swear a full moon is out and students are on the verge of perhaps somewhat less than, approaching that point that would bring sweat to your brow it should still be fun. You know what, it is still fun in all of it even when nothing seems right and then is still right, and it still should be fun. When you can have joy and happiness in what you do then you are finding success, regardless of whatever assessment tool or what others think. When a student wants to come to class when a student will rather stay in class doing what they do not want to do or so they say they do not then maybe just maybe success is near.

“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It has been a while since sitting in a research class and listening to an instructor explain about evaluative measurement and how data is something you can see and measure. Also adding that touchy feely stuff while possibly existing cannot be adequately measured. I was thinking to myself one of the greatest aspects of humanity is touch, it is that no measurable quality that we innately have within ourselves of feelings of the touchy feely. Can we truly measure happiness or joy or better yet that Jungian term synchronicity? Many years ago the two partners split over measurability of science versus “the touchy feely”. Jung knew something else existed that affected human nature something beyond Freud’s measurable data. He spent his life looking and defining that aspect of humanity and as Dr. King offers in his quote “the inaudible language of the heart” may be that aspect.

“Warm weather fosters growth: cold weather destroys it. Thus a man with an unsympathetic temperament has a scant joy: but a man with a warm and friendly heart overflowing blessings, and his beneficence will extend to posterity” Hung Tzu-Cheng

What is in a man’s heart is what leads and drives a person forward in life and it is that aspect that guides our next step across the stream and keeps us from slipping on the wet rocks.

“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him; and you are torn by the thought of the unhappiness and night you cast, by the mere fact of living, in the hearts you encounter.” Albert Camus

It wasn’t too long ago I offered up the experiment of smiling at people. Have you tried it? Simply decide to smile for a day and then look at responses from people around you. Not just smiling and grinning or staring at people, but a sincere smile. You will be amazed at how people respond. More often than not people smile back and personally I would rather be around people smiling than frowning. I have used so many times this thought from Albert Einstein in my wanderings.

“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

Freud and Jung have split many scientist and teachers, those who want to have a measurable commodity to focus on and as Einstein quotes there is human nature to contend with. So how do we make our lessons so potent as to withstand the pressure of the measurable how do we take the immeasurable and find substance in it? Can we measure heart? Can we find a way to understand why we respond beyond empirical data? Maybe one day we will and all of Jung’s searching will be not have been in vain. Until then the journey continues keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

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

Dissipating embers can rekindle a fire

Bird Droppings February 24, 2016
Dissipating embers can rekindle a fire

Most mornings weather permitting I will sit out and spend a few moments meditating in the corner of our back yard currently over grown with local plant life and in bad need of a mowing. For several years I have used a bit of white sage and sweet grass in a bowl as incense. The aroma and watching embers glow in the darkness can be very relaxing. Today I was thinking back to watching as the last of the embers held on to its red glow dissipating as a slow column of smoke wisped off the last of the ember circling about in the stillness.

“Do what you can, with what you have where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt

My mind was wandering to car repairs, needing more dirt for my herb garden, helping with and finishing reading and grading papers, writing three IEP’s and heading to school later this morning. Just as the sun was about to rise I looked up circling over my head traces of clouds creating a master piece of stars and clouds move much faster than most times. There is something about the early morning perhaps the newness and silence. As I thought fanning the last spark from the one small piece of sage leave an ember jumped from my bowl and landed on my arm for a second I watched till the burning sensation had to be dealt with.

“There are things you cannot say in words — feelings you have, heights and depths you cannot articulate — and the only way they can come out is through your art form. It may not be direct — usually it is not. But what happens is that as you create, this emotion pushes through from some deep place and informs the way you see, feel, choose, and express. What was an unutterable emotion changes into an emotional charge that runs through your heart and mind and into your work. It is a magical thing, and you must embrace it as one of the true gifts of the difficult and sometimes lonely creative life.” Kent Nerburn, email to his son

I started thinking about parallels in life working with teenagers and teenage relationships and it is much akin to watching embers as they are dissipating. Each day a student will be complaining about a boyfriend or girlfriend and then right back. The embers are strong and a bit of air and bright again glowing. For some this is enough to carry on into adult hood and serious relationships for others fuel is needed some would call it substance and eventually those folks look for something more meaningful than just an ember glowing. Occasionally an ember jumps out and burns us. Some wanting to maintain will allow that ember to sit and smolder burning on their skin not wanting to lose the glow for fear of never being able to relight the fire.
As I found this morning when my super-duper gas lighter starter was empty from too many starts of charcoal and candles. Amazingly in this world of technology an old kitchen match works just great and there is always another source of fire to rekindle. Briefly we will wander stumbling in the dark looking and some will sit pining waiting for light to come on. We exist in a world of paradox or flux there is always light for every darkness. Perhaps philosophically and theologically we could argue but experience will also show it will get light and while darkness may seem like a long time but it will get light eventually.

So I remind myself every morning going out before the light to sit and enjoy the stillness and sensations of early morning. The silence and calm provide a peaceful start to the day.

“In the midst of sorrow, sickness, and death, or misfortune of any kind and in the presence of the notable and great silence was the mark of respect. More powerful than words was silence with the Lakota.” Standing Bear, Ogallala Lakota

There have been many moments I sat listening to a CD of Carlos Nakai, wooden flute master. In my car Nakai is playing giving me additional solace as I go about my day. As I sit today thinking and pondering listening to the melodies and sounds reading words of wisdom of days gone by. I find daily I am writing words often only for one person to read even if it is myself. As today unsure of whom that person is I am writing for, trying to convey a moment of silence of peace in a world jumbled and riddled with so much turbulence. I have focused most of the weekend on my own undertakings reading writing for my graduate work and my herb gardens. When I walk in the doors of our school that changes I am now paid to deal with others issues and education. The strength of my morning of my few moments sitting in silence watching the embers dissipate will sustain me through the day and perhaps offer to another a few words of comfort and perhaps a few moments of silence. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

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

Listening to my doctor

Bird Droppings February 23, 2016
Listening to my doctor

Somehow for nearly fifteen years I have written and produced Bird Droppings, inserting into Word Press, Facebook and in the past yahoo groups and an email list of people wanting to read Bird Droppings. Even on days I have been away from computers usually within a day or two I could get a thought or two through the cloud of technology. It has been two years since a hurdle was placed in my way. A stepping stone I need to get across but it takes effort. Two years ago I was told I had some abnormal heart tissue after extensive testing. That was the first time I missed three days of school due to medical reasons in thirteen years. During the winter break I spoke with my cardiologist and orthopedic doctor. Both gave me alternatives change your way of life lose weight or surgery. So I embark on a definitely pivotal point or piece to my life’s puzzle. I Have been stitched up, broken many bones, had joints repaired, steroids injected in joints and most recently my neck and back for degenerative discs, but I have never had surgery because I had too. I find some sort of finality in that. Having a wife in the medical field I am reassured ten times a day no big deal. I guess I will be disposing of my bacon stash and various not good for me foodstuffs. So I went to physical therapy and started weight watchers. In both cases I was asked why are you doing this what are your goals. In both situations I said so I can spend time with my grand babies.

It has been nearly forty years since I first went to Hemmingway’s just off the interstate in Decatur Georgia. It was a favorite local entertainment establishment. My wife and I would go prior and after our marriage primarily to listen to a local singer who with his band provided a fantastic evening of music. I recall my cousin Bill sending up a napkin with a Deep Purple song written on it numerous times. Ron Kimble and his band tended to cover southern rock and country songs more than anything else so it was always a big joke when our hard core metal cousin would pass the napkin up to the front. But one night Ron took the mike and said we have received quite a few requests for this song seems to be all in the same handwriting though and they cut loose on that song.

So here I am sitting and listening to a song written and sung by Ron Kimble. Ron is a big man by most standards and his voice even bigger. The song is entitled, My little granddaddy, it is a story of his granddaddy telling stories and always having a “sweet tater” for his grandson. Seems every time I listen to this song I obsess and play two or three times and after a millions plays still a tear trickles down my cheek. It seems it has me thinking to my own dad and granddad to my sons and how he rode around on his golf cart with a load of grandkids telling stories about World War II and about the local hermit that lived in the woods below his house or about Little Strong Arm a Native American chief. I miss my dad and my wife misses her dad and as I talk with people who have lost parents over the year little things remind us as we go through our days. It for me could be picking up a piece of blue lace agate or gold ore at school but for now I sit and listen to a simple little song and a catchy little tune and thank Ron Kimble for it and giving me a tie to my father and my grandkids.

“Now, there are many, many people in the world, but relatively few with whom we interact, and even fewer who cause us problems. So, when you come across such a chance for practicing patience and tolerance, you should treat it with gratitude. It is rare. Just as having unexpectedly found a treasure in your own house, you should be happy and grateful to your enemy for providing that precious opportunity.” Dalai Lama

Over the past few weeks I have been working on getting annual Individual Educational Plans completed for my case load at school. It seems that on top of the stress and emotions of dealing with parents and kids trying to come up with how we should as a school provide an education for this child. I was talking with a dear friend a day or two back after finishing class that it is more exhausting sometimes practicing patience than getting upset. It takes effort to contain oneself rather than blow up. I have come to find that when kids are agitated there is a reason and far too often it has nothing to do with us but something from home or outside school compounded by whatever issues that particular child is involved with at school as well.

As I read the statement from the Dalai Lama and how we should be happy for the people who provide us with the opportunity of practicing patience it can be hard to at first understand what this man is saying. But as I ponder and I do a lot of pondering this time of day I am thankful for the week trying as it may have been and all of the people that added to and provided me with an opportunity of being patient. It is within these difficult relationships and interactions that we can practice and hone our skills at being patient. It is Friday and this week while perhaps it has flown by has seemingly dragged on for so long in other ways. So as I close today and as I have for many years now my dear friends please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in our hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

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

Hearing an owl

Bird Droppings February 22, 2016
Hearing an owl

“If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator.” W. Beran Wolfe

Within this life we want to feel as if we are pursuing happiness. Many people feel that this aspect, happiness, of who we are is illusionary and so many times as I look at various students, former students, and friends and associates it may be. Is it the peer pressure perhaps, the group psyche coming into play and molding that which we see and what we are perceiving others seeing into a common thread or weave though it may be purely in our minds.

For me however happiness is an individual entity, it is something from within not a transitory effort to have or to be like everyone else. I have become a fan of few television shows but have taken to watching NCIS lately and Gibbs, the main guy is always building a boat in his basement by hand even though we never know how he gets them out. It is while he is working with his hands on his boat you generally see a smile on his face.
While reading emails and looking through other electronic mailings and postings I happened to read one about how the ideal guy would wear specific clothiers or have specific hair color, eye color, or even physical build. Sadly nowhere it seems do we look deeper. We seems to want the trappings and it is this outward appearance and back to my first paragraph that is what seems to bring happiness to far too many. We want this ideal person to be who we want to be, and who we want to be around.

As I do so many mornings walking out into the darkness listening to the sounds of the night and or morning as today seemed to be. I had awakened from a very vivid dream and gathered myself and let my puppy out only to encounter two owls calling across the stillness and still chilled from another night of coldness. It was not raining fortunately and the crickets and the tree frogs were silent from the chill. Perhaps the owls were on the hunt, my oldest son tells me often of being awakened by the owls hearing them at night out here in the country. I too hear them often but have never been awakened by them however this was my first experience hearing them as close as I went out.

The dueling owls went back and forth for several minutes in the stillness. As I sit here thinking and pondering still trying to recover from a cold, in my imagination so many myths and legends of owls. For some cultures there is great magic in owls for others they are harbingers of evil and death. But as I listened to the two back and forth mimicking calls perhaps territory perhaps a pair hunting perhaps the visages of spring have sparked a more sensual meaning to their calls.

For me there was not a fear but a sense of grandeur as the sounds soon dissipated. I wondered why tonight or I should say this morning as the crescent of moon gleamed in a clear sky about 4:30 AM or so. I pondered reading this simple quote that I started with by author Wolfe and then searching further.

“One important source of unhappiness is the habit of putting off living to some fictional future date. Men and women are constantly making themselves unhappy because in deferring their lives to the future they lose sight of the present and its golden opportunities for rich living.” W. Beran Wolfe

Perhaps the owls were a reminder of things needing to be done or of stopping the procrastinating. For there is joy in life for each of us now, it is not a distant event to be reached when the right clothes, job or thing is finished done or bought. Happiness, true happiness is now with us if we choose. It is in the contentment of knowing you have succeeded and you are where you need to be right this minute, this second. It is that all you have done in your life has been to get you here to this point. Wisdom is about accepting what and where you have been and are learning from this now. Happiness, true happiness is being content, and most of all it is about being alive. I am sitting here writing as the water from ten or so tanks flow in my room at school providing a relaxing venue for which into ponder.

I had wanted to work in the garden a bit more this week but between cleaning up and Dead Pool I have put it off. It always amazes people when I say some of my happiest times have been sitting on the mower going in circles thinking, imagining, pondering and assuredly content for that moment. Please dear friends keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

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

“It does not require many words to speak the truth”
Chief Joseph, Nez Perce