Bird Droppings June 16, 2022
Teaching and or 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
After returning from PT, I walked into the house after running a few errands, swam about a mile, and sat down to write. I will assume retirement will not be as tense and hectic as my first day teaching high school on September 11, 2001. While driving home, I was thinking back to a song one of my students chose to write an essay about several years ago, Live like you were dying by Tim McGraw. A dear friend passed away recently, and a post caught my eye this morning. It is difficult as I write today not to think about how many friends I want to see and talk to one more time. I have been sorting through books and files and found a small inspirational book based on that song that could be what got me thinking about it. The song came up when I gave a writing assignment to pick a favorite song, find the lyrics, and then explain the song. There is something about country music and lyrics and emotions that hit you.
As various music genres came forth, one song stood out among the rest that day. Here we can argue genres and such, although I used Beyoncé and Bob Dylan in a sarcastic graphic mainly pointed at our system of measuring schools. If anyone is unaware, Bob Dylan has been chosen as the greatest songwriter of all time. Some can argue, and I got into this the other day with a fellow teacher and friend as I was picking on his heavy metal blaring after hours. I used the rock and roll hall of fame as an example, and Dylan has songs covered by the greats, including Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and All along the watchtower, to name a couple.
“You have to do what you love to do, not get stuck in that comfort zone of a regular job. Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is it.” Lucinda Basset
“Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful or debase it into ugliness. It’s in our hands.” Cathy Better
I was searching for words midst a deluge of thought. I got caught up in Tim McGraw’s words from that assignment many years ago.
“I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying. Like tomorrow was a gift, and you got eternity to think about” Tim McGraw
We take life so often for granted, wasting precious moments, and missing bits and pieces as we go hurriedly to the next event of the day. I had not seen my dear friend since 1978, but we regularly communicated on Facebook. We are sharing all of those years in photos and one-line captions.
“Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.” Josh Billings
“It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them.” Evangeline Cory Booth
“I went Rocky Mountain climbing. I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu, and then I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I watched an eagle as it was flying, and he said, someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.” Tim McGraw
All week in the morning, I walked out as I do. Over the years, so many mornings early in the day, to my right, a clearing deep in the pines often a great smile of a moon, almost half a full moon but still a smile. The stars added to the effect and surrounded me with that great chorus of crickets and tree frogs; it was overwhelming. I have yet to figure out how crickets in our neighborhood can harmonize. Perhaps they were singing for my friend.
“The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice, love, and passion.” Nadia Boulanger
“On life’s journey, faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day, and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.” Buddha
We each search and try to find the best pathway as we journey through life. How and why we go the direction we do is our choice, and our attitude again is our choice. Reading the words from Tom McGraw’s song again and listening to teenagers respond is interesting; living each day to the fullest is not just about riding a bull named Fu Manchu for 2.7 seconds or mountain climbing in the Rockies. It is more about loving deeper and speaking sweeter; it is the moments, not the events; it is extracting as much as possible and giving as much as possible in each second of each day.
“I was finally the husband that most the time I wasn’t, and I became a friend a friend would like to have,” Tim McGraw
Again, a flashback to a phone call several years ago. Again a few years back, another incident struck me. My middle son called from college and sounded upset. There was an uneasiness in his voice. A female student had killed herself in the dorm; several of his friends were peer leaders in that hall. In another situation, I was informed two students I have been talking with for three years were both pregnant events, each was encompassing in its own, a life ended and lives starting. One of the girls came by to tell me personally after I had heard rumors.
“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Thomas Carlyle
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot
It has been many years since I walked out into the pastures at night and heard our buffalo snorting. It is hard to explain seeing a bull buffalo’s breath blowing across the grass in the wee hours of the morning on a cool day or watching fireflies skirt the kudzu and sumac of our backyard. A young lady took her life and had a plan with a stopping point. I wonder if she lived as if she were dying, or was she dying so she could live? What a paradox we set in motion as we journey each day.
“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really merely commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the planning, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, working through generations and leading to the most outer results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
“I asked him when it sank in that this might really be the real end how’s it hit you when you get that kinda news, man? What’d you do…….live like you were dying. Like tomorrow was a gift, and you got eternity to think about what’d you do with it what did you do with it” Tim McGraw
I won’t be riding bulls or skydiving, but I will be smiling, and I will love, and I will live each moment I have and hopefully set an example for those I meet along the way. I may make a few more day trips this summer to spend precious moments with friends. So my dear friends, take a moment and honestly think about it, live your moments to the fullest and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts, and please be sure to give thanks for the moments namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)