Bird Droppings March 17, 2020
Where is the beginning or end in a circle?
“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” Albert Einstein
Over the past few weeks’ my school has been wearing me out physically, could be the last few weeks of getting through a meaningless testing barrage, or could be I gave up my last physical support after my injury my trusty scooter for getting around. It could even be dealing with really obnoxious ninth-graders and an imbalance of discipline. I think it shows I am getting old. I went out earlier wandering around as I do looking for pictures to take often images others would pass up although today in the haze there were few.
Last night we had a coyote wander down the road by the house. As I went out into the darkness this morning I looked no deer and or coyote. It was a bit colder than the past few mornings still clouds hanging around from the front and the moon was covered, but it is to warm up and be a pretty day the weather folks say. It was about fifteen years back a good friend dropped by for a couple days. This was the first time he had been back in this area for some time. In our course of topics as we talked late into the evening on two nights was the idea of teaching as an art form. We talked about views on life and how so often I have on occasion seen things others have not.
One of our discussions over breakfast we talked about intuition and empathy as crucial aspects of being a good teacher. Another topic was how so often in life we tend to view daily happenings as mundane and yet in that moment of the mundane miracles are happening. In our backyard we have since we have moved here put in numerous flower beds in one bed we have several ferns along with angel trumpet plants and several other flowering shrubs. Nearby one bed is special nearly every flower attracts hummingbirds.
Coincidentally we planted quite a few butterfly and hummingbird friendly plants last year around the yard and I was pulling dead flowers off when I heard a loud humming buzzing sound. I was being dive-bombed by a hummingbird. My wife had me place a hummingbird feeder in the tree which centers on that bed. The hummingbird food was constantly getting gone and I had just refilled it, it has become one of my jobs to keep the feeders filled come summertime. It will not be too long till they are back from Mexico and as I look up hearing the buzzing I will see hummingbirds feeding directly beside me and who knows maybe this year I will get a good picture.
When I sit each morning and write about fireflies dancing across the edge of my world in my back yard or whippoorwills echoing through the dawn and dusk it is recognizing the mundane in life. Should I not be there to hear they will still be calling and should I not be watching the fireflies they will still light the night. My own view is still limited by darkness, my own vision and my own perception. I try and instill in my students to look past images everyone else sees and try and find that which is theirs and theirs alone. I am saddened when a great idea and creative mind is silenced by peer pressure.
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” Friedrich Nietzsche
For someone a thousand miles away it is only words that I write yet I see it and experience it and yet for someone here nearby unless they are willing to rise at 4:00 AM they too will not see or hear what I see and hear. So in effect, a writer offers glimpses of another experience and another world to those willing to read. I offered as my friend and I talked it is about renewing our perception sharpening our senses to see and hear and feel more than we do today.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” Albert Einstein
Many considered Einstein to be an atheist for his very often blunt statements about religion, yet if you read very many of his nonscientific statements there is a spiritual aspect to them. He was an artist and a philosopher as well. Thinking back again eight years it was a day not unlike most other days I have experienced with my friend talking with many old thoughts and memories that we discussed years ago. Sitting and reminiscing about his days in seminary and choosing to go back to teaching and how that impacted his life. There is an end and the beginning of every journey and at one point I even asked him if he was in the right place now. Without blinking an eye he responded he was never happier and knew this was where he was meant to be now in his life journey as I know I am where I am too be for now.
“We do not chart and measure the vast field of nature or express her wonders in the terms of science; on the contrary, we see miracles on every hand – the miracle of life in seed and egg, the miracle of death in a lightning flash and the swelling deep.” Ohiyesa, Dr. Charles Eastman, Santee Sioux
Perhaps one day I can sit idle as I started thinking a few moments ago and rock on my front porch, but not today. For now, I crave that thought process and questioning and curiosity of learning and teaching. Whenever I drive through Kentucky I cannot help but think of Daniel Boone finding his way which was for him a wilderness and yet for Native Americans of that place it was home not a wilderness. Even in that day trails and pathways were worn from the passage of moccasin feet.
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” Albert Einstein
In a paper for graduate school several years ago I referenced my recent experience, as somewhat of a clearing of a haze from things I had forgotten. It was as if things were clarifying from many years ago. Often what is learned is not just from books but from experiencing, living, seeing and believing. Each day I travel a road many others have journeyed on and many others have succeeded in going beyond that road. Yet it is new to me each day for I choose to see more than the day before. For me, it is wilderness opening new trails not yet approached by civilization. For me, it is fresh and vibrant even though many see only the mundane and stale.
It might be in the flight and blinking of a firefly or the snort of breath as a buffalo crossed the pasture years ago, or the call of a whippoorwill off in the trees. It may be in the feather left for me as a hawk soared through the sky. I recall a movie where they start and end was nothing more than a piece of fluff blowing about until it gained import with Forest Gump and was placed in a special place in his life. We do not know from moment to moment how someone will react to anything we do or say or write. I spoke with my friend about interconnections and how this is the art of our existence. It is in the perception, the seeing, feeling and hearing of our own heartbeat.
I ran into a former student yesterday. She had moved and happened by chance to be in our town and we met at my favorite store Quick Trip. It seems she now lived in another county and will not be attending our local school next year. She just wanted to say hi and in the conversation asked what do I teach everyone wants to know, it seems I have many students who just come by my room and officially are not in my classes. I told her I Use to have a sign on my door stating; Period One – The philosophy of learning about how and why we learn what we do, Period two – the same, Period three planning, and Period four again the same. She said that sounds interesting.
For nearly three years she wondered what I taught and wanted to be in my class. I would always respond you haven’t been in enough trouble yet. As she left after I explained Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, she said even though I wasn’t in your regular classes except for Biology in summer school I learned a lot. How is that for an ego boost? By chance, I was reading as I do and emailing my friend pointing out several websites and books. Two passages caught my attention as I end my writings today.
“On the basis of the belief that all human beings share the same divine nature, we have a very strong ground, a very powerful reason, to believe that it is possible for each of us to develop a genuine sense of equanimity toward all beings.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Good Heart
“Strength-based in force is a strength people fear. Strength-based in love is a strength people crave. It is as true today as it was then and as true for nations as it is for individuals. Unfortunately, too few of each are listening.” Kent Nerburn
Nerburn was addressing a friend’s comment about Viet Nam and those of us old enough to have been drafted and or serve in that time of war. Looking at the news and comments from politicians the past few days this passage from the Dalai Lama struck a chord with me. One of the things my friend and I did while he was hear was to see each of my sons since my friend had been involved with them in youth work and music. Of course that included along the way riding down to Georgia Tech and going for a campus tour in the Georgia Tech mascot, the Ramblin Wreck. Recently I was watching old videos and the other night spending several hours with my sons catching up reminded me how significant today can be. Now I can end for this morning of cool wet weather after the weekend is another week before spring break so please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)