Bird Droppings August 27, 2020
A beginning from an end
“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
I was thinking back a few years, nightly summer storms had come through, and amazingly, our granddaughter had slept through them. Our dog is another story waking up at the first crack of thunder. It was about eleven years back when a friend dropped by for a couple of days. This was the first time he had been around in this area for nearly three years after moving away. 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 life views and how so often I have, on occasions, seen things others have not. Wandering around as I do to look for pictures, often images others would pass up. One of our discussions over breakfast discussed 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 every day, 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. However, one bed is unique; nearly every flower attracts hummingbirds. Coincidentally we planted petunias last year around the edge, and I was pulling dead flowers off when I heard a loud humming buzzing sound. I was dive-bombed by a hummingbird. My wife had me place a hummingbird feeder in the tree which centers the bed. The hummingbird food was regularly getting gone, and I had just refilled it, it has become one of my jobs to keep 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 recognizes the mundane in life. Should I not be hearing they will still be calling and not watching the fireflies will always light the night? My view is limited by darkness and my vision and my perception. I try and instill in my students to look past images everyone else sees and find that which is yours. 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
It is only words that I write, yet I see it and experience it for someone a thousand miles away, and yet for someone here nearby unless they are willing to rise at 3:00 AM, they too will not see or hear what I see and hear. So, in effect, a writer offers glimpses of another world’s experience to those willing to read. I provided 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 views, there is a spiritual aspect to them. He was an artist and a philosopher as well. Today is a day unlike most other days I have experienced with my friend talking about many old thoughts and memories discussed years ago. Sitting 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 directly in his life journey as I know I am where I am now.
“We do not chart and measure the vast field of nature or express her wonders in 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 about learning and teaching. Whenever I drive through Kentucky, I cannot help but think of Daniel Boone finding his way in 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
A year or so ago, I referenced my recent experience in a paper for graduate school, 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. I travel a road 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 the flight and blinking of a firefly or the snort of breath as a buffalo crossing 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 the 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 how someone will react to anything we do or say or write from moment to moment. 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 heartbeat.
I ran into a former student yesterday. She moved and happened by chance to be in our town as it was my favorite store, Quick Trip. It seems she now lives in another county and will not be attending our school next year. She just wanted to say hi and, in the conversation, asked what do you 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 the sign on my door states, Period One – The philosophy of learning about how and why we understand 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 individuals. Unfortunately, too few of each are listening.” Kent Nerburn
Nerburn addressed 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 politicians’ news and comments the past few days, this passage from the Dalai Lama struck a chord with me. A friend and I did while he was here was to see each of my sons since my friend had been involved with them in youth work and music. Of course, that included riding down to Georgia Tech and going for a campus tour in the Tech mascot, the Ramblin Wreck. Recently I was watching old videos, and spending numerous hours with my sons catching up reminded me how significant today could be. Now I can end for this morning of storms is another week ahead, so 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,
(We are all related)