Bird Droppings April 1, 2020
“In the government schools, which are referred to as public schools, Indian policy has been instituted there, and it’s a policy where they do not encourage, in fact, discourage, critical thinking and the creation of ideas and public education.” Russell Means
I walked early this morning before the sunrise taking out the trash and waking about letting our dog run in the back yard. The sliver of a moon was gone behind a cloud for now as I walked down our walk, streaks of color were forming intermixed with the clouds overhead in all directions. Georgia has been very wet and now temperatures are heading higher, although today there is a chill. We have had rain almost every day or two for several weeks with more coming. A spot here and there, a raindrop here and there I swear some days it seems it rains on the front yard and not the back. Generally, it is quick storms and pouring rain sporadically around it might be in town and drive a half mile and nothing, sort of a typical Georgia spring. We have been lucky we have had the rain at our house and in the surrounding area easily judged by kudzu growth which is just getting started and wisteria that has already bloomed.
As a teacher there is anticipation especially in this online experience that is new to many. Some states have already announced no more in class school this year. So far our system is still pointed toward end of April as are many systems. As the last official day of school draws near one way or another I am sitting here wondering what to teach or say as we get into this limbo between no longer teaching to end of course tests and teaching something of substance. Almost like starting a new year do we have the books and paper, pencils and pens, markers and poster board and all of the materials and such we need to go forth and spread the required knowledge?
In a world of rapid access and instant everything can we even compete with all that is there as a humble teacher. I started with Russell Means who has been a key figure in Indian Activism for nearly forty-five years. Means is an actor having portrayed Chingackook in Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis.
“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. “ Kent Nerburn
“Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow is wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly.” Inuit proverb
I read this and wondered, perhaps an ancient version of the Aerosmith quote I use so often “Life is about the journey not the destination.“ In the world of the Inuit the moment is of utmost necessity as life literally hangs in a balance constantly. There is a line of forward looking knowing we need wood to keep the fire going, food to sustain living and yet the moment is so crucial. Last night I had a dream of teaching. Odd a teacher would dream of teaching but it had significance to me as it was about teaching swimming. I started teaching swimming lessons when I was twelve or so. In teaching swimming, you have to learn to swim by swimming you cannot learn by reading a book. I find it amazing how we have taken that simple concept of having context to the lesson and forgotten it. John Dewey would be rolling in his grave if he could see how much s\we have bastardized learning.
“Predicting the future is easy. It’s trying to figure out what’s going on now that’s hard.” Fritz R. S. Dressler
“Create your future from your future not your past.” Werner Erhard
Recently I helped a friend write and design a brochure for a program they were doing the front cover had a picture of a foundation and was worded something to the effect of building a strong foundation. For many people life is trying to focus on the future and they literally try and build a foundation based on a goal far off. Often, they lose sight of what is here now and immediate. The Inuit knew tomorrow they would need wood for the fire and it would be found but the heat is here now while it burns. So often we need that goal set off in the distance but we need to live now to reach it.
“There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.” Johann Sebastian Bach
Now right this moment is when you proceed to build toward your goal. Bach could not create his masterpieces without time spent hitting the right keys practicing perfecting the music that would become timeless.
“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” Yogi Berra
Many years ago, newspapers would make jokes of the yogism’s and pick on the great catcher for the New York Yankees and when he became a Major League Manager they still made fun of his comments. However, looking at this quote, there is little difference when speaking about a fire and wood but when you need the fire there sure is borrowing from the Inuit statement I started with.
“Don’t do anything in practice that you wouldn’t do in the game.” George Halas
The great NFL coach was accurate as to life as well if you practice it in your life you will end up actually doing it. I write often about example and trying to set an example. It is in what we live that others see and understand us. I was walking in and noticed posters on a coach’s wall alluding to this concept. Actually, several of the following were on his wall.
“If I don’t practice the way I should, then I won’t play the way that I know I can.” Ivan Lendl
“We all knew there was just one way to improve our odds for survival: train, train, train. Sometimes, if your training is properly intense it will kill you. More often — much, much more often — it will save your life.” Richard Marcinko
Richard Marchinko was a former US Navy SEAL team commander and founder of the notorious SEAL team Six which is the group that took out Osama Bin Laden. He was an antiterrorist before it was being supported with federal tax dollars. Marcinko now is a security advisor and author writing about his exploits during Viet Nam and after during the tenuous period as terrorism shifted as a means to accomplish a group ends, his concept of practice and training kept both himself and his men alive.
“If I miss one day of practice, I notice it. If I miss two days, the critics notice it. If I miss three days, the audience notices it.” Ignacy Paderewski
“An hour of practice is worth five hours of foot-dragging.” Pancho Segura
I received an email months ago and a good friend was going to be singing in a concert and in her email she spoke of the joy and fulfillment of singing and performing and perfecting the music. She was excited in her description of the event yet to take place and the thrill of performing. But is it the hours of dedication the audience sees and the emotions poured in over the hours of learning the music that is heard and not simply the one hour recital at 7:00 Saturday night. Life is about practicing and working at knowing the wood will be there to keep the fire going. I will end today my meanderings with a quote from a great football player in his time perhaps the greatest running back ever in High School and he was from a small town in Georgia, went to The University of Georgia, and then to fame in the USFL. He was actually who the USFL built the league around.
“If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” Herschel Walker
Herschel is now several years retired from football and many years from High School where he still is a legend in football here in Georgia and of how he trained as a child pulling tractor tires around the yard and doing thousands upon thousands of sit ups and pushups. It is interesting how so many know what he did yet do not emulate the feat. They know what got him to his greatness yet and they want to be there but avoid the work. Sadly LIFE too is similar. 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,
(We are all related)