Teachers! We should always be near the edge.

Bird Droppings March 4, 2022
Teachers! We should always be near the edge.

I remember taking groups hiking in North Georgia, and always there is that one person who has to be at the edge of a gorge or edge of the trail, dropping two hundred feet down, looking over, and nearly falling. A few summers back, my oldest and middle son went to the Grand Canyon and, of course, many images over the edge. Granted, they were beautiful, but. I often wonder if maybe they were being adrenaline rush junkies. It has been some time since I would edge my canoe off a rapid, occasionally not knowing what lay ahead, and I have gone off some pretty good size falls not paying attention. One of my favorite memories of canoeing is a good friend was with me, and as we approached a ten-foot drop, he stood up to check it out. I was catapulted out of the canoe, and he was pinned under it. We survived, but a great life lesson for both of us. He never stands in a canoe in rapids, and I never go canoeing with him again.

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” Soren Kierkegaard

I often wonder if I had chosen differently at various times in my life, the outcome, and where I would be. What if I had not left teaching so many years ago? Would one of my former students perhaps have changed directions and not be serving three life sentences currently. I was aware of issues back then nearly fifty years ago, but I was just a kid working with kids.

“I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

Through experience, the highest form of learning occurs, and it is learning that will stay with us as we move through life. I can describe how to tie a square knot, and I can show pictures of a square knot all day long, but until you physically tie a square knot with a piece of rope, you will not recall the intricacies and methods.

“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap?” Cynthia Heimer, Lower Manhattan Survival Tactics

I recently did a timeline of my life showing what I call coincidence points where a slightly different twist, trail, or take would have altered my life. People I have met, things I have done or not, are changed by a moment’s choice somewhere along the line.

“I dip my pen in the blackest ink because I’m not afraid of falling into my inkpot.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been a fan of Emerson for some time, and as I read this line, I recalled several comments from a friend who is an artist and very independent, drawing a comparison to the former TV show and Dr. House. He was an arrogant, brilliant physician who offended everyone and seemingly solved unsolvable medical mysteries. My friend was a graphic artist and had learned the game of preparing artboards for clients; she will always do several and overemphasize the one that she feels is best. You give your customer choice and options yet control the situation for the better. This is a Dr. James Sutton trick for working with Oppositional Deviant children. My friend has a customer who never picks the best one, always the wrong one, and now without just being obnoxious, directs the customer to the best artwork.

“Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” Frederick B. Wilcox

So often, life presents us with challenges or with trails to follow. Do I go left or right? Do I take the steeper one or the easy pathway? Over the years of hiking in the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia and North Carolina, you would come upon switchbacks where the trail, rather than going straight up, would be a series of switches back and forth, a bit more distance but a more manageable incline, especially when burdened with a heavy backpack. Some people want to charge forward, and I had a few who would always make a beeline for the top of Blood Mountain and avoid switchbacks, and about halfway up, the rest of us would catch up to them, exhausted and bruised and bloodied from rocks and falls. Often there is wisdom inexperience. Still, those of us moving up the mountain may be slower but would still finish ahead of them.

“Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?” Frank Scully

I remember picking apples and crawling out a bit too far on a limb, nearly falling for the best ones. Learning the limits of your environment can be beneficial and help you get the best possible of what you seek.

“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky

I first used this quote nearly seventeen years ago, putting a copy on my then principal’s door. Interesting that the sheet of copy paper made the move to two new schools and is still hanging in his Regional over ten counties, RESA director’s office.

“I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.” G.K. Chesterton

I have never been one to back down from a challenge, and Chesterton’s words are actual, so often, people sit and languish sadly, literally molding away.

“The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one’s self to destiny.” Napoleon Bonaparte

In Risk Management, you terminate the risk, tolerate the risk, and treat the risk and or transfer the risk, which equates to the four T’s of Risk Management: Terminate, Tolerate, Treat and Transfer.

“This nation was built by men who took risks – pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, businessmen who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action.” Brooks Atkinson

The vastness of the frontier truly gave us the American Dream. I have been working on papers dealing with the development of education historically, and it is interesting how the frontier paid such a significant role. Europe had reached a point where every corner and every nook was owned and possessed, and a new atmosphere occurred when the colonists came across the ocean. It was a vast unchartered frontier.

“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome.” Samuel Johnson, Rasselas, 1759

So many times in history, objections hold society in limbo because of various limitations imposed by religion and by rulers.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy

I recall the day Bobby Kennedy was killed, and football Hall of Fame great Rosie Greer, who had been helping with security, knelt beside the still body with a tear on his cheek. Greer was one of the all-time great linemen in pro football and was crying, holding Kennedy’s head in his hands. As the news started, a picture came across the media. The photo was the huge Rosie Greer bent over a fallen Bobbie Kennedy with tears in his eyes. Shortly after that, the news carried the word that Kennedy had died. He knew the chances but believed in what he was trying to do—two Kennedy brothers killed by gun violence before it was newsworthy.

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” Seneca

Nearly 3000 years ago, the great Greek philosopher uttered these words, and today they hold as accurate as they did back then.

“What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” Robert H. Schuler

Pastor Schuler was never one to limit himself, such as building one of the largest church congregations in the country and the largest TV audience of all time.

“Every man has the right to risk his own life to preserve it. Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out the window to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide?” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I am amazed at how perception changes as conditions change.

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you fail and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The adage of getting back on the horse when you fall off still holds clout.

“Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.” Ray Bradbury

Every day some of us live this way, waiting till the last minute and thriving on the adrenalin, but not everyone can function in this manner. I sit back and recall my father going over the four T’s of risk management in a conference so many years ago and how applicable that still is not just in industry but in school, education, families, and life in general. Some people need a moment or two to catch their breath to ponder and make the wisest and sometimes safe choice. So today, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)

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