Bird Droppings November 26, 2021
Listening to a philosopher
The day started with cold the thermometer skimmed around thirty degrees. By the time I went to the store, it had warmed up. Clouds were pushed aside, and sunshine poked through. There was a beautiful sky as I walked outside, surprising as the sky was clear. I cannot wait again for a night when the moon is reflecting across from the west, lighting up the sky, and white billowing clouds present a surreal picture for me as I walk out in the morning. I was reading in National Geographic an article on possible life somewhere out in the universe and all the possibilities that continue to pop up. It has not been long since I fancied myself a philosopher of sorts. Perhaps it was my graduate work that got me genuinely entrenched in philosophical meandering that led to this conclusion or trying a million times to formulate a philosophy of teaching while it evolved before me. I think it is because I enjoy pondering way too much. I seem to find time to wonder and think about all around me as I journey through life.
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Friedrich Nietzsche
“How people keep correcting us when we are young! There is always some bad habit or other they tell us we ought to get over. Yet worst habits are tools to help us through life.” Friedrich Nietzsche
As I looked for a starting place for my daily writing, I was interrupted to run into town to get a few things, and then I could get back to my writing. As I went up and down the stairs and walked out into a sky as wonderful as it is this morning, I recalled a period in my life when I would get up every morning early and walk several miles discussing philosophy, theology, and other relevant issues with a very good friend of mine. It was an exciting time, and many concepts that I hold now came to fruition during those walks. Over the years, as I look back, and indeed most things considered that I consider “bad habits” I had given up in the days past; however, they do provide tools for pondering ideas further and pushing thoughts beyond where they were. I have found, however many people get mired in that bad habit or two, and it becomes part of their life not merely a steppingstone or tool but a crutch and support. Perhaps even a cast of sorts locking them into that point in time.
“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” C. Everett Koop
Most folks will not even recognize the name of Dr. Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States and former head of pediatric surgery at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. As I thought of Nietzsche’s quotes and while not taking a walk today, I did go and walk dogs twice outside so my wife and son would not have to get up as the holiday is officially over and we all are back at work today. I started writing a bit later today than I thought I would. As you read his work, Nietzsche is often self-focused and hostile, and perhaps in some ways, I like looking to his thoughts for contrast for adding a backdrop to a brighter view. Somewhere I started writing about Dr. Koop.
Dr. C. Everett Koop was instrumental in the anti-cigarette laws and anti-tobacco laws. On a personal note, he was the surgeon for my younger brother many years ago when we lived in Pennsylvania. My father used to tell the story of Dr. Koop. His staff and my father gathered around John, my brother who was born with cerebral palsy and later developed encephalitis’s approaching surgery. Dad would say having been in the Navy medical corps. And around death in WWII, so much the aura around Koop was different; he exuded life, he thrived on life, and when he asked all to join hands and pray around John, he made my father’s day.
But one thing that has stuck with me from dads conversation with Dr. Koop was a quote very seldom seen, “Having worked with terminally ill children and seriously ill children for many years in all of those years I have never seen a parent of one of these children who did not have faith.” As I think back and remember bits and pieces, Dr. Koop’s comment and discussions with my father, he was not referring to religion as much as to faith. Faith also parallels trust, and it was in that trust in Dr. Koop and or confidence in the hospital that parents would have faith and hope. Dr. Koop was a man of hope, future, and faith.
“Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.” Saint Thomas Aquinas
“Our faith comes in moments… yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ending on the idea of faith, as I enter a day filled with cooking and staying home with my wife, I often wonder about students who question and students who refuse to ask, often in both cases based on faith. I am ending with a simple idea for another day or several thoughts to ponder and mull over as we ascend the plateau to view the vista. Tomorrow is a new month ahead. My friends, have a glorious day today, build for tomorrow and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your thoughts, and always give thanks namaste. Today I will venture out to give thanks and send thoughts of healing to several friends.
My friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)