Trying to tie a knot with only one end

Bird Droppings November 30, 2016

Trying to tie a knot with only one end

 

It is a Tuesday morning and no one else up but me and I am about to go out and wander in the darkness for a bit running to all night pharmacy for birthday cards. I have over the years enjoyed greeting the morning.  I have found my solace in the wee hours of the day being able to think more clearly uninfluenced by an encumbrance of the day. Over the years I have watched many sunrises and none have been equal to the last and no one had been more brilliant than the others each has been an uplifting moment for me. I try and share through images captured with my camera but truly they do not do justice to the moment.

 

I went to my favorite spot to take photos of sunrises several times last week and it was still relatively dark on one of the days so I played with aperture settings and exposures and ended up with some interesting effects. I proceeded to the reservoir nearby and took a few more two ducks popped in but before I could get a shot flew off and in the dark I missed them. I returned to my spot again for a few more and a Great Horned Owl flew from the fence to a nearby tree. In front of me a few feet two deer walked across my path. So in my morning of meditation and sunrise pictures a good start to the day.

 

“Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” Charles Swindoll

 

It is the responses that the world sees this is how we are judged and how we are thought of. Each day I see hundreds of people coming through my room at the high school and their attitude about their life is perhaps the one thing that can make or break them in any given day. How we respond to what people see is what drives all things around us. If we bring an attitude for example a poor attitude to a given place and respond to seemingly inconsequential stimulus in an overt way because of that inherent bad attitude we will be perceived as being that which we possible really are not nor do we choose to be. Unfortunately our attitude at the moment drives the reality of others in their perceiving of us.

 

“The more unintelligent a man is, the less mysterious existence seems to him.” Arthur Schopenhauer

 

I think intelligence provides color and shades of gray to a black and white world. However it can be manipulated both positively and negatively. Look at a color blind test for example, a swirl of colors and yet some can see and others not. My students think I am joking when I say I cannot see numbers on color blind charts but can tell colors as well as any of them. Intelligence has nothing to do with it other than creating the test that is being seen. Conversely, perception, how we see that image is then how we interpret that image and or do not interpret it.

 

“Change is certain. Peace is followed by disturbances; departure of evil men by their return. Such recurrences should not constitute occasions for sadness but realities for awareness, so that one may be happy in the interim.” Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

Several issues at hand, first it is how we respond to a given event. Secondly how we perceive a given event and then determine that in fact that the event is happening. I have always enjoyed reading Shelly’s work and yet very seldom have I used a piece in my daily wanderings. Today was a day that had minor delays and changes in routine offering an imbalance to a morning. I am a creature of habit and change is difficult for me taking a week off from teaching due to a fall break last week and my mother being in the hospital alter the flow of the day. As we read Shelly’s line we know change is inevitable. If we plan and think and strategize change can be less significant and in effect can become more evolution than really a change. Is it a development of sorts, a gradually shifting from point A to point B and on to point C.

 

I was observing several students a few days back and change is what affects them more so than any other aspect of school. Offering choice can totally bewilder them. I have worked with several autistic teenagers and often choice is a difficult venue. Should I go to the rest room and or the bus since the bell rang. An either or situation and it is seemingly a difficult one for this one fellow as he stood in my door asking me what he should do. While afterwards it was humorous at the time it was a life altering event until he remembered he was on third load and had plenty of time. Still for each of us we live in a society of choice. Years ago I had a student who could not choose. He literally needed to be told what to wear by his mother and what to do during the day by his teachers. On his own he would always get into trouble by responding inappropriately to stimuli. Eventually he ended in jail serving three life sentences when all external restrictions were gone after his mother passed away.

 

I watch students who have similar tendencies and wonder what happens when we take away answering questions and offering help. What happens when a world designed by people who enjoy control and power chose to make you the scape goat. I once read a headline about enormous profits of oil companies and I look at price of gas. Any fool can see if you charge twice as much for an item profits will go up. Costs go up as fuel prices rise and I recall in a speech one of our previous national leaders stated it is ok for oil companies to reap record profits on high gas costs, because it is market driven. Interesting as I sit and think about those comments and whose side was he on. I now understand why we are having such difficult times with educational policies and other issues on a national level. If you can make a profit it is ok, it is market driven. Much of our educational policy is profit driven and market oriented in items like standardized tests and textbooks. Literally there are hundreds of billions of dollars in sales of educational materials.

 

Certain industries are at record levels while former main stays of our economy have been driven overseas. I seriously wonder how we did it, pushing jobs to China or where ever. I wonder, if I was an oilman or drug company president or oil construction company owner I think would be a happy camper right now. I got into a discussion with two former military now teachers earlier in the week. We were discussing World War II and current warfare. Literally thousands died in battles in World War II and today with our highly mechanized military handfuls die. But what was interesting was that in days gone by industry boomed during war time. We are in wars where for the first time during a major war we are hurting in jobs and in financial areas. We have no industry left it is all in other countries. We have to buy hardware and military equipment from heavy industries in other countries. Even in a one of last presidential campaign speech’s a politician bragged about saving billions on a fuel tanker airplane in a contract bid. The part left out was that instead of manufacturing in the US it would be built in France and 6000 jobs would be in another country. How much was that worth?

 

“All is focused on a bell shaped curve. Approximately twelve point five percent know something is fishy, twelve point five percent are being left behind and seventy five percent do not care because the response they see is feasible at the time and that is all that matters.” High School teacher, Frank Bird in regards to standardized testing

 

Looking back on the Iraq war sort of ok there are no weapons of mass destruction, but when we made the choice we were sure there were. It is ok to pay twice what we should for gas because others are and therefore it is market driven. What if we as consumers could determine the price of gas and profitability of those companies? What if medications were within reach of people instead of pricing to a point where lifesaving and threatening medications were unattainable for some? The new drug plans are so cumbersome most cannot use or holes in plans leave some stranded. What if we could have a utopia and everything was perfect and a bell shaped curve was now a flat line? Funny thing is you would be called a socialist. Most of the recent political jargon would say that is socialism. Ever wonder why when you are dead monitors show a flat line, it seems there are some who want people to flat line and eliminate the curve. Some who want to get everyone on the same wave length equal and no complaints at all?  In education it is a big one. It is the legislation of No Child Left Behind, NCLB, where all children are the same by law at least they will be in 2014 and now modifications since all children are still different. When I see that I nearly laugh having worked always in special education.

 

“If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it.” Arthur Schopenhauer

 

As I sat and thought about all of this it is sort of like trying to tie a knot with only one end. Does it really do any good to have a knot if the other end is somewhere else? Well as I keep wondering I could use that knot in the end of a rope to knock some of the politicians in the head. It has been a chilly, windy, and supposedly snowy fall morning and I am still trying to gather up plants needing to come in for the warmth. It will be a good day and one filled with conversation and communication. I look forward to more. Please my dear friends keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

My friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin cldren are still different

(We are all related)

bird

Venting a bit on a Tuesday Morning

Bird Droppings November 29, 2016

Venting a bit on a Tuesday Morning

 

I was slack with my daily journaling over the holiday. I have written for two days straight this week. Last night and this morning I read several alarming posts on friend’s pages on Facebook and on internet news sites. I followed links and they led to para military groups discussing declaring a civil war. Another link was supposedly about President Obama declaring Marshall Law in December with no information just a title and graphic. This same link led to another about how the white race would be gone in twenty five years. I read all the comments about our President being a communist and socialist and my response is neither socio-economic system is even closely being approached in this country.

We are in over drive capitalism here in the US, especially this time of year and with our current president elect. Greed rules above all else. We have highest stock market and biggest difference between wealthy and the rest of us ever in the history of our country.  Granted the great income difference is what Marx saw and wrote about as he pondered communism. However our government and that is both parties continues the process that maintains that elite few. Oil companies, defense contractors, pharmaceuticals, insurance and banking are booming in profits. That’s not communism and or socialism.

The recent election is a good example much of the budget suggested by the party that will be taking over impacts the very people who voted them in cutting social security, tax credits, child care deductions etc. are all in suggested budget of House leader Paul Ryan. Better yet privatize Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and let insurance companies run them. Kind of like health insurance where top five health insurance carriers CEO’s are all paid in excess of 20 million a year, none of which benefits my health care.

Taking away from any group of people is not socialism and or communism. I was told recently we are losing our freedoms and I asked which ones. Our freedom to not buy health insurance for an example was the reply. I offered than when you are sick cure yourself or pay your own bills. They asked you mean you would let me die and I said no you let yourself die. The worst post of the day was 79 million people voted and even with a boycott black Friday 140 million went shopping that speaks to me more than then the idiotic posts and blogs about communism and socialism and civil war. As long as we get what we want we don’t care about anybody else. So I will borrow from scripture.

Matthew 19:16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 19:17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 19:18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19:19 honor your father and mother,’c and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 19:20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 19:22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” NIV

I am not one to use scripture often but so often those spouting all the innuendoes mentioned above are using scripture. We could debate what is meant by this passage since it is framed by an ancient Hebrew commonly used expression for something difficult a camel through the eye of a needle, but I look more at the excess in our world and specifically in pour country. No one cares about the environment, starving children, or few other things other than making a buck. The XL pipeline and now Dakota pipeline are great examples. There are a huge group of Koch industries employees 35000 promoting it through phone calls and conversation. Koch Industries owns 1.5 million acres of tar sands in Alberta. The pipeline is not carrying oil to benefit us here in US it is already in plans to go to Asia predominantly China. That has been in news off and on. Gas prices in US will not be impacted and why should they in a world of supply and demand price is based on who will pay the most we are bidding when we pay 2.00 a gallon with Chinese willing to pay more. The US is exporting more oil and refined oil products than any time in the history of our oil. The revolution that needs to occur is not one of military/militia/vigilante/gangs but one of people who care about others.

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” Mahatma Gandhi

My friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

Within the circle of life a new life coming

Bird Droppings November 28, 2016

Within the circle of life a new life coming

 

Resurrection

By Susan Thomas Underwood

 

The universe is energy in constant motion.

There are ebbs and flows;

Outcomes and income,

And change…… Always change.

The physical world reflects this motion

In the cycles of life,

There is spring and fall, winter and summer,

Birth and death; and rebirth…

Resurrection!

Einstein proved that even time is relative

In his theory of relativity,

All is relative …. All is change

You can count on it.

Be then as the willow;

Learn to bend with the wind!

Always dream, though your dreams may change.

Always produce, though your product may change.

Always love, though your love may change.

Always live, though your life will change.

You can count on it!

 

Susan Thomas Underwood is a native Oklahoman, Shawnee, and author. I saw her book of thoughts, Walk with Spirit on Amazon.com and thought I might take a look. This will be a rather interesting week for me and my family. We will be celebrating a fourth birthday party for our first granddaughter; my youngest son and his wife who live in Thomaston Georgia are having a celebration.  Then our second granddaughters second birthday is this week as my middle son and his wife who live in Southern Pines North Carolina will be having a party. Add to this and now four years ago roughly my middle son asked his girlfriend of over a year if she would marry him and she accepted and their anniversary is near. My nephew and his wife celebrate their son’s fourth birthday and for an extended family so many blessings these past few days to remember and more to come.

 

As I read this first entry in Underwood’s book I thought to my own existence these past sixty plus years and changes I have been through, as a son, parent, husband, father and now a fourth time grandfather.

 

“The beauty of the trees, the softness of the air, the fragrance of the grass, the summit of the mountain, the thunder of the sky, the rhythm of the sea, speaks to me. The faintness of the stars, the freshness of the morning, the dewdrop on the flower, speaks to me. The strength of the fire, the trail of the sun, and the life that never goes away, they speak to me and my heart soars.” Chief Dan George

 

I find myself quoting Dan George many times. Dan was a Salish chief from Canada and an accomplished actor later in his life. Some may remember him from the movie Little Big Man or Outlaw Josie Wales. But he was too an eloquent speaker and poet. He often spoke of nature but also of the intertwining of life. He would speak of the roads we each travel and cross many times. I spent most of the past week watching, observing, holding and photographing my grandchildren and helping my wife get the house ready for the holidays while she ran around hunting for bargains. It is hard to recall a tiny newborn four years ago when each gesture and smile was first for her. I am so happy on how we as family responded and have encouraged her as she is learning daily. It seems even for a teacher watching my grandbabies learn daily I am amazed.

 

As a teacher being a grandparent becomes our teaching job number one, not so much to have them belief or think as I do but to provide pathways for them to walk and learn on her own. Our journeys in life are not always smooth going and it is being able to offer a hand when needed. I recall three years back watching my granddaughter and my son as we went for blood work the bond that has been made in a few short hours is one of a lifetime. Watching her mother hold and talk softly whispering as she was carefully touching her eyes, nose and cheeks is a bond that is impossible to break. During a brief moment or two, I was peering through the lens of my camera as my granddaughter in a matter of seconds in her grandmother’s lap made a series of facial expressions almost as if she knew I have grandma wrapped around my ever so tiny finger now. As the orator and actor Dan George stated so many years ago, “they speak to me and my heart soars”.

 

It is a new week and grandbabies birthdays on the way it is all happening so fast. May peace be with you all in the coming days and may we all keep those in harm’s way on our hearts and on our minds and always give thanks namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

“Teach to where the learning will be not to where it is”

Bird Droppings November 25, 2016

“Teach to where the learning will be not to where it is”

 

I had a relaxing week with family and sort of got my thoughts together as the days went by. Somewhere as what little rain dissipated and we had a more days of sunshine even though the temperatures were above normal and a chill has set in. I have been sadly waiting for the frost and it is almost December and no frost as of yet. I need to gather the last of my plants into the house. I am a member of the National Association of Educators and receive their weekly publication. An article caught my attention in one of the last issues. In Georgia we have Standards that drive the curriculum throughout the state in line with federal and state mandates. Essentially the article addressed teaching to the test.

 

“Preferring concrete guidance, teachers make what is tested their de facto focus. The unfortunate result is that tests become the curriculum. And because tests are filled with multiply choice items that do not adequately reflect important higher levels of cognitive demand, instruction becomes less rich that it should be.” Susan H. Fuhrman, Lauren Resnick, and Lorrie Shepard, Standards are not enough

 

As I thought I recalled a quote I have used many times before and how it applies to education.

 

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.” Wayne Gretzky

 

It was last night as I was working on pulling some files together and books for my ideas that this Wayne Gretzky quote popped up again. Considering that I had played ice hockey in college and most my life it was sort of cool. Gretzky is a hero to hockey kids just like Michael Jordan is to basketball players. Gretzky’s records cover several pages of HHL record books. Gretzky holds or shares 61 NHL records. As an example a recent ESPN top twenty five sports records that will never be broken had Gretzky’s feat of 2857 points (goals and assists) right near the top since number three player, Gordie Howe at 1850 holds the longevity record as well and number two is 1887 points. But what does this have to do with the price of beans or with education?

 

“There is a growing recognition of the importance of the view of the classroom community in developing respect for human dignity as well as preparing students to be active participants in their own learning and in democratic communities. The theme around which programs in the School of Education are built is Preparing Proactive Educators to Improve the Lives of Children. Our students learn to be reflective, scholarly, and proactive educators.” Dr. Jane McFerrin, Retired Dean, School of Education, Piedmont College

 

Proactive is a good word. “Acting in advance to deal with an expected difficulty” is how Dictionary.com explains the word proactive. A good friend has the Gretzky quote up on his wall, I gave him a copy nearly twelve years ago and it still is in use. I first used this quote over twelve years ago when my friend was the principal at our high school. He has moved on but Gretzky’s words ring true, be it in Ice Hockey, teaching or in life. I have expectation as a key element though in this quote, to be where the puck is going to be not just where it is. Be thinking ahead rather than thinking in stagnation.

 

“For, he that expects nothing shall not be disappointed, but he that expects much – if he lives and uses that in hand day by day — shall be full to running over.” Edgar Cayce

 

“Life… It tends to respond to our outlook, to shape itself to meet our expectations.” Richard M. DeVoe

 

Much of Cayce’s reading can be a bit much but these are good words and our daily outlook does mold where and how our day will be.

 

“We advance on our journey only when we face our goal, when we are confident and believe we are going to win out.” Orison Swett Marden

 

Marden was the founder of Success magazine and is considered to be the founder of the modern Success movement.

 

“We lift ourselves by our thought; we climb upon our vision of ourselves. If you want to enlarge your life, you must first enlarge your thought of it and of yourself. Hold the ideal of yourself as you long to be, always, everywhere – your ideal of what you long to attain – the ideal of health, efficiency, success.” Orison Swett Marden (1850 – 1924)

 

I am always amazed at teachers who will have few expectations for students. Research has shown time and time again that students live up to the expectations of the teachers. Teachers literally set the pace by their expectations of a student if you expect little that is what you will get and conversely expect much and you will receive. A bit of a paraphrase of Gretsky.

 

“Teach to where the learning will be not to where it is” Frank Bird

 

As I thought this morning teaching is much like any other activity you plan you implement and you have expectations. If we only teach to where learning is soon you find you are truly going nowhere. For years I will at times use words far beyond operational vocabulary of students, my response is always “look it up and learn a new word”.

 

“By asking for the impossible we obtain the best possible.” Giovanni Niccolini

 

“The world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car… a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and as a result they get little.” Ben Sweetland

 

I really liked this concept so often we teach the use of a teaspoon, I do it too, and thinking that this kid will never learn that or this kids reading level is too low. Sweetland writes about expectations and offers this.

 

“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” Ben Sweetland

 

When that difficult student succeeds you as a teacher succeed and your path is brighter. Years ago I worked with severely disabled students and a simple movement often would warrant a celebration. So often I use the quote from Aerosmith’s song, Amazing.

 

“Life is a journey not a destination” Steven Tyler

 

As I was reading this morning Ben Sweetland either listens to Aerosmith or Steven Tyler reds Ben Sweetland’s books.

 

“Success is a journey, not a destination.” Ben Sweetland

 

After looking up publishing dates Steven Tyler read Ben Sweetland’s book. Many of which were published in the 1960’s. If we as teachers impose parameters on learning, if we set goals far too low and or do not teach to lofty goals we set, we in effect are the issue not the student. Maybe every teacher needs to tack over there door as my dear friend, the now Georgia Principal of the year at Osborne High School has.

 

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.” Wayne Gretzky

 

Let us set some records now, records of learning of successful students and children in our communities. As I went out into the chill of the morning a bit earlier to walk my dog as I looked to the southeast the constellation Orion was clear as a bell over me. I could not help but notice that today was the one of the first days in months it was silent in the morning. No tree frogs, crickets, cicada’s absolute silence. I have often wondered as to the ambient temperature for silence in the morning. I was reading in a small book written between 1953 and 1954 by a Trappist monk, Thoughts in solitude, and a passage struck a chord in the silence.

 

“Living is not thinking. Thought is formed and guided by objective reality outside us. Living is the constant adjustment of thought to life and life to thought in such a way we are always growing, always experiencing new things in the old and old things in the new. Thus life is always new.” Thomas Merton

 

Perhaps I was not listening close enough as I went out just a few minutes ago when I said it was silent. I stepped out again and a great horned owl was calling there is always more always if we constantly adjust our thoughts and perceptions. Merton was a prolific writer and his works have stood the test of time he died in a small hotel in Southeast Asia in an electrical accident protesting the war in Vietnam back in the late 1960’s and as I ponder this morning please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and always give thanks.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

A tapestry is made by interconnecting of threads

Bird Droppings November 22, 2016

A tapestry is made by interconnecting of threads

 

All through history weaving has been a critical aspect of civilization. Weaving cloth for clothes and blankets in order to survive and soon after weaving for art sake.

 

“For certain fortunate people there is something that transcends all classifications of behavior, and that is awareness, something which rises from the programming of the past, and that is spontaneity; and something that is more rewarding than games and that is intimacy. But all of these may be frightening and even perilous to the unprepared. Perhaps they are better off as they are, seeking their solutions in popular techniques of social action, such as ‘togetherness.’ This may mean that there is no hope for the human race, but there is hope for individual members of it.” Dr. Eric Berne, Games People Play, 1964

 

The title intrigued me as I was sitting here 6:00 AM wondering which direction to go in this morning’s writing I was thinking about students, parents and teachers and how so often the intertwining of personalities produce the fabric of the day. I recall in a graduate class a professor friend used the term or representation of weaving. Our lives are a tapestry being woven each day as we go.

 

“Each person designs his own life, freedom gives him the power to carry out his own designs, and power gives the freedom to interfere with the designs of others.“ Dr. Eric Berne

 

For many years I was directly involved in the sheep industry with raising, breeding, and of course shearing the sheep and selling the wool. I traveled nationwide photographing and talking to producers and writing about the sheep and wool industry. I met many hand spinners and weavers as I traveled. Some were artisans spinning yarn as fine as silk and weaving literally pieces of art work. Back in the day we had a ewe a Hampshire cross ewe that was “black” and when she was shorn, her fleece was chinchilla gray. For a number of years a dear friend would get that fleece each year for her spinning and weaving. Somewhere in a box is a small ball of yarn my oldest son spun one afternoon when he was six with that fleece with my friend showing and helping him.

 

Life as Dr. Andrews, professor and chairperson of Special education department at Piedmont College commented in class is a weaving it is an intertwining of events and people.

 

“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, nothing else. “ Mahatma Gandhi

 

One of Gandhi’s methodologies of protest was to spin and weave his own cloth rather than rely on industrial produced material. Many other intricate thoughts were woven in as well; spinning is for many a form of meditation. The process of weaving, creating and designing a piece is literally a painting of a picture with thread and yarn.

 

“A man’s action is only a picture book of his creed.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

So as we weave our cloth in life we are seen by the fabric, the pattern, and the methods we use to make that piece of cloth.

 

“When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. “ John F. Kennedy

 

With each progress report we call students’ parents or guardians to discuss issues and grades. I spoke with several over the phone back a week or so ago. I walked through my room after school that day reading a poster that has been hanging around now on my wall where ever I take up for 30 years, Children Learn what they live. While one weaves silk while another weaves burlap. Silk has many great attributes as does burlap and the applications and uses vary. To spin hemp into twine and weave the burlap is as much a skill as the artisans who weave the silk threads into cloth. The weaving and material made is not the issue but it is that weaving that is occurring. For it is that effort that is being made to produce a life that is so important.

 

“Understand clearly that when a great need appears a great use appears also; when there is small need there is small use; it is obvious, then, that full use is made of all things at all times according to the necessity thereof.” Dogen Kenji, Zen master

 

Recently I used the word direction and drew criticism from a teacher trying to explain that choosing a direction in a journey and not truly having a destination is sometimes a meaningless effort. For some just going is the norm. I always speak of the journey being more important versus the destination but there is a point to head towards. When building a house first you build walls you determine where doors and windows are needed and add them as you go. A really good builder knows ahead and plans for doors and windows and designed properly a house can have huge windows and great doors and movement in and out occurs continually.

 

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” Chief Seattle, 1854

 

Many years ago I was sitting alongside a fence in a field far away from houses and people and I watched a spider spin a web. We see webs all around I was told there are thousands of spiders per acre in any field. Many of the spiders are minute and nearly microscopic. Anyhow the spider climbed to a point and dropped leaving a strand of silk climbed and dropped and so forth building a base for her web. Next came the cross lines and soon a web was built over an hour or so in the process. We see webs and easily sweep them away but the design and care in making is engrained in the spider. Life is a weaving a spinning a web of sorts and yes so often is simply swept away. Occasionally someone will stand back in awe of the artistry if only we would take note every time. Please as we have already partaken of a day of thanksgiving continue giving thanks and 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

Finding solace along the way

Bird Droppings November 18, 2016

Finding solace along the way

 

A few days ago a good friend said I could read every word in Bird Droppings today and I did not think I used too many fancy words, although I have a bad habit of inventing words. They said there were no fancy high fangled words that I never saw before. As I was thinking I wondered what about a simple word yet powerful, so today a new vocabulary word, SOLACE.

 

“Comfort in sorrow, misfortune, or distress; consolation.” Dictionary.com

 

I was thinking as I walked out this morning just after 1:00 to take our dog out it was a quiet morning perhaps peaceful even, though it was a starry sky and there were no frogs or crickets to be heard. The crickets and tree frogs provided a faint chorus normally when I go out in the wee hours of the night and morning but the chill in the air and cold front have put a damper on that. It is interesting for me as I begin to finalize a chapter in my own life, with trying to get back in graduate school that is if I ever get under way and get serious about my dissertation. I should say as I look further on that I do daily seek solace in my writing. The word solace is that calming as the final pieces fall in place. I tend to seek solace within myself, looking within, searching within and finding a spot where I am at peace and can rejuvenate.

 

For many people solace is in other ways, a massage or a book, perhaps a quiet walk. Several years ago when my brother passed away in my mother’s grieving she sought solace in writing, in assisting others in the grieving process. Not too long after my brother John passed away a young man who we all knew was killed in a car accident. At my brothers funeral my mother pressed flowers and made book markers with poems for friends and family, the pressed flowers were laminated into the bookmarkers. She gathered a few blossoms from this young man’s funeral and did likewise.

 

The thanks from his family were shared as two mothers embraced and smiled a few weeks later. I wonder as I sit and think, ponder, why do so many not seek solace. I watch daily many folks smolder and contain their sorrow, grief and discomfort letting it build into depression and illness for some. Yet for some solace is that weekly sojourn to church and those daily intercessory sessions in prayer. Solace can be a simple process but as I think it is an active one as well. We need to seek solace not just wait. Far too many people want to be solaced by others and never really get there. There is an interaction but you must be a willing participant and be seeking that state of mind. I am wandering this morning. It has been several years since I was reintroduced to James Kavanaugh a poet and author from my early college days.

 

KNOW THIS, MY FRIEND

by James Kavanaugh

 

Know this, my friend,

I will never desert you.

I will be there when all have gone away,

When finally you have nothing more to say,

And there is no apparent reason ever for me to stay.

When all the fears of a lifetime have crowded in on you

And every particle of your past has lost all meaning,

When you cannot lift your head

or hold back the tears,

And you can no longer bear

the terror of your own ruminations,

When all your triumphs are as dust

that cannot hold you aloft,

 

And even the family you raised and loved

have no time for you,

I will be there

To bring you what joy and courage I can,

To remind you of all the beauty and wonder

you are,

To heal you with all the love I have,

To carry you, if need be, wherever you must go,

Only because you are my friend

And I will never desert you.

 

I never realized how much I missed a poet, as I did when I was reunited with James Kavanaugh at Piedmont College in a graduate class. I had read his work back in the day, the early 1970’s when I drove a VW van and had long hair and was still against wars and for peace. As I thought looking at this poem, the word solace can be reading a poem or understanding someone’s thoughts. Yesterday I throughout contemplative reading and this is a piece that would take well with that. Contemplate the words and meaning Kavanaugh is trying to convey to the reader. As I sit here and as time goes so often for me it is sitting each morning and or afternoon writing Bird Droppings that is solace for me personally. So my friends as you seek solace in your own way may seek also peace this wonderful day and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Life is raw material

Bird Droppings November 17, 2016

Life is raw material

 

Morning is a special time a beginning I am always questioned why I get up so early. My response is to get a great start to the day.  Several aspects make it special first one of taking the dog out and talking with him as she sniffs the ground hunting bear and other prey and of course doing his thing in the yard. Then I go to my writing and reading which has become my meditation for the day. This has become in many ways a significant part of my day. I walked out this morning and felt the coldness of perhaps not our coldest morning this fall but the over cast and air from north Georgia smoke made it seem colder. I miss today seeing far off across the field the big dipper rising above the trees and stars crystal clear in the morning darkness. I did get a few photos of the moon later in the morning.

 

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

 

A few years back as I left my room after second period I usually always go through the guidance office and say hello to several people and on that day one person was missing I noticed and never questioned as the day drew on I sensed an absence yet still had not questioned. As the day ended I heard from over the announcements she had suffered a heart attack during a stress test and was having surgery. My thought raced to how fragile is this thing is we call life.

 

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

 

“Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality–not as we expect it to be but as it is–is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.”  Frederick Buechner

 

Last night I sat down thinking and trying to put down words and pictures that may have significance to a project I am working on for my research work. It was hard getting to work after eating through most of the day. I emailed several people last night just touching base and downloaded some old wrestling tournament photos from the high school.

 

“If, after all, men cannot always make history have meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.”  Albert Camus 

 

“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.”  Thomas Carlyle

 

As I moved through that day a from a few years back a sensing something was amiss and even after knowing it is difficult to offer from a distance any sort of comfort. Most people as the day finished never missed a stride there were a few tears from friends and those that knew but all in all the day went on.

 

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot

 

I have used this quote several times and each time it seems appropriate. I remember as a child chasing fireflies across a meadow gathering those life forces in a jar to light my room and then releasing into the night watching them float away in the darkness.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It has been several years now since I received a call from my nephew that a friend had been in a car accident and as the time proceeded I spent the night in the Athens Hospital holding a young man’s hand as monitors beeped and droned and he lay unmoving. I was hoping that the numbers on the dials would change but that was not to be. When I arrived home on my computer was the above quote from an Aerosmith song. Seems I come back to that note often in my writings.

In 1968 as I left for Texas for college I received a book from my parents, it was a bible which still sits in my bedroom and on page 596 a verse that has stuck with me.

 

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

 

Many years ago Pete Seeger a folk singer legend and environmentalist wrote music for the words and a song was born “Turn, Turn, Turn”. To every season turn, turn, turn there is a reason turn, turn, turn and a time for every purpose under heaven. The song became a hit sung by a group called the Byrd’s coincidently.

 

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

 

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

 

So often a poets words offer comfort or give direction back to a journey set off course in but one moment’s time. There is no filling of a void yet when looking at life and all that has been, when looking at the journey to now there truly is no void. There is a turn in the road a new direction all that has led to this point has not changed and is there behind us, lifting us, guiding us, and strengthening us as we continue. I remember back to a photo of my son crossing a stream in north Georgia already sopping wet from falling in but still intent on making it across stone by stone, crossing the stream on the rocks as he jumped.

We all can cross in our time and there are times when a hand is welcome. Years ago I set up a website for a youth group and today I will close with the starting line from that website “Friends are never alone”. Keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and today keep those friends who may need extra support close at hand namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

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