Bird Droppings October 7, 2021
How do you feed the wolves?
I walked outside very early this morning to a sky filled with an overcast haziness. Crickets were almost silent, chirping slowly in the unusually warm weather. My morning started long before sunrise today, and the sounds as I went on our porch. Nearby a coyote was calling, and an owl’s call added to the moment. In the past, my grandson would hear the owl before me and tell me to listen. I can only imagine the numerous constellations through drifting pieces of clouds. I sat my goal to get to go to Kroger early so I could spend some time writing today, and with so many thoughts going through my mind, I sat down as I was listening to an old track on iTunes. Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks is considered by many to be one of his best albums. I picked up my phone, and a note was visible on the lock screen. It was a thank you comment from a former student from eleven years ago; what a great start to my morning.
There are times when it is hard to put into words whether it is because of confidentiality or emotions; maybe even words honestly do not describe well enough. Yet pictures are not suited to define or describe either. A large display of Georgia Bulldog marketing materials, cups, flags, caps, and stuffed bulldogs reminded me of a past trip. Several years ago, I went to Kroger after school to pick up a few things to make spaghetti, the universally excepted meal in our house. The parking lot was packed from one end to the other, so I parked about twenty miles from the door. I read that it is a good thing to do for exercise, adding a few more steps to your day. After finding all I needed and visiting with at least half a dozen friends, I bumped into I started up the book aisle, which is a sort of habit. It was packed, and everyone was in line. A rather assorted bunch of folks were standing in what appeared to be a line.
I carefully went back and went down another aisle to head for checkout, and as I reached the front of the store, there were several men in black suits standing almost at attention beside a table stacked with books. My initial thought was Sarah Palin’s book signing, but I knew she would have been in a more strategic location than a Loganville Kroger, and while she is popular, there were a lot of people here. Then I see this older man who is still pretty spry for an old codger sitting shaking hands and signing his latest book. I had forgotten today was Vince Dooley’s day at Kroger. Dooley is somewhat of an icon in this area. Vince Dooley was the former head coach and athletic director of The University of Georgia Bulldogs. Where else but in Loganville would thousands of people swarm a grocery store to get an autograph from Mr. Bulldog himself. I consider myself to be an avid Georgia Tech fan, I walked by nose in the air and paid for my groceries.
But the events of the week so far and thinking back had me recalling an old email I received nearly ten years ago. The story goes something like this. One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a debate that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.” I received this note from a parent of a former student.
As I thought back and read over this simple story again, I was thinking about how children respond to various situations, and we adults then commend or condemn them. Those two words are so closely spelled yet so far apart in meaning and understanding. Many mornings ago, a young lady came in and was visibly upset but more of a moping kind of upset. It seems her boyfriend, and she were sort of at odds. I shared the Thomas Merton quote I have hanging on my wall and have used here many times.
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we see in them.” Thomas Merton
I asked the young lady to look up Merton and see some of his other writings and who he was, which she did before school, and then she left with a copy and a Kent Nerburn book, Calm Surrender. As we talked, I thought of this quote about the wolves inside of us and how we all are fighting as she told me of conflicts in her life and her boyfriend’s life as well.
Several days back, my wife and I discussed kids as we tend too, and learned behavior came up. We teach kids through our actions and inactions, yet we then punish them for the same thing. An attorney was on TV saying parents who knew kids were drinking at a party at their house should not be held responsible for any actions of drunken teenagers. The discussion was on a point, counterpoint discussion. The other side also mentioned that the person involved in the accident had been arrested previously for DUI and the parents knew that, so there was a history established. So, I sat listening to this back and forth, an underage drinking party led to a teenage driver killing a child. The underage drinker who was driving, had left the party at that particular parent’s home with their knowledge; he was drunk and had been drunk previously; both parties were found guilty. On the one hand, the defense attorney said kids will be kids and, on the other, a dead child.
So often in life, we are faced with what-ifs. We have knowledge of behavior construed as dangerous or potentially dangerous, yet we tend to shrug it off. A headline yesterday caught my eye where the industry is turning its nose on incidents that do not cause significant damage or injury. My background is from an industrial safety background; these incidents lead to a considerable safety and loss control breakthrough. A headline down was about women not getting mammograms anymore till fifty, and on the news, many women were up in arms who had breast cancer and whose family members were saved by early detection. I recall a young man I worked with back in the 1970s and how, on many occasions, I had requested an evaluation and was told keep out of it the young man had a learning disability only. After I married and moved to Loganville, I let him spend the summer with me and work on our farm. Sadly a few years later, things changed, and he was arrested and sentenced to three life sentences. He had killed a woman and her two kids wanting to return to Central State Mental Hospital. Commend and condemn so similar yet different in the meaning.
I look back at the story in which wolf is being fed. We are responsible as parents, teachers, friends, and we and others need to be more actively involved in keeping such situations from happening. Whether it be teenage love or teenage drinking, the harm is being done around the corner and often under our noses. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)