Today should always be a first day

Bird Droppings June 24, 2022
Today should always be a first day

“I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.” Lone Man (Isna-la-wica)Teton Sioux

So often in life, we think we are the one and we can do it all on our own with absolutely no help from others. A few years back, I was working in my room when a former student came to see me. What amuses me is this student could not wait to get out of school to go to work with his dad. I asked how things were going, and he had quit already. He didn’t like it, but he had enough gas for four hundred miles of driving a full tank, and that was all that mattered. He came by with a fellow I had not seen before, and he was a rough, scruffy-looking fellow. Both guys were not clean, like they had slept in the car for several days. I was amused at how he did everything he could while in school to get out, and here he was visiting. His last bit of our school was physically getting kicked out and finished in an Alternative school.

I recall how he told me he did not need to know how to read, and yet he was telling me how he failed the online exam at Wal-Mart while trying to get a job. He was joking about how he Christmas treed Wal-Mart test just like he would at school. I asked if he got hired yet, and he said no, but they were letting him retake the test his mother works at Wal-Mart. I had this quote many years back finding this website of Native American quotes, one I use frequently. We cannot be monastic in our lives. We are, in effect, herding animals and need the support of a group. On a brighter note, after several jobs, he found one he could be successful in. He is working for a paving company and has been for nearly two years now.

“Man is never alone. Acknowledged or unacknowledged, that which dreams through him is always there to support him from within.” Laurence Van der Post

Laurence Van der Post lived, some might say, in another time. Growing up at the edge of the wilderness along the Kalahari Desert, he was raised by a Bushmen nanny. He later named the first non-royal Godfather in history Prince William of England. Von der Post often wrote of the bush and life among the Bushmen, as well as numerous articles and books of his travels worldwide. While a very solitary and reclusive people partly due to encroachment and government pressures, the Bushmen were still devoted to their land, tribe, and people. To them, the community was life itself. I started thinking back to the paper I was writing yesterday and the Foxfire Core Practices. Foxfire Core Practice eight: “The work of the classroom serves audiences beyond the teacher, thereby evoking the best efforts by the learners and providing feedback for improving subsequent performances.”

“Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is an ancient human need.” Margaret Mead

I was standing outside listening earlier to the world around me. I was alone yet knew I could step back in doors any moment. I searched the sky, looking for familiar constellations and stars. The overcast of the sky hid most but the crescent moon peeking through. The black edge of the treetops surrounded my view. I enjoy this time of the day, especially here in my backyard, a world away from civilization yet only a foot or step back into it. Encircling my dreams in black lace, the treetops form a circle around my view. Listening to my friends seemingly all in chorus, crickets, tree frogs chirping and barking, and an occasional whippoorwill and a drone of the main highway waking up in the distance. But I know my family is in the house if I need it. I started thinking back to the young man who visited me a few weeks back. I wondered how he thought about his family, and I know his comment about having enough gas was self-centered and strictly an extrinsic motivation of the moment.

I doubt he had supplies stashed about as the Bushmen tribes would in case of drought and need. We tend to be more self-serving, thinking only of the moment and immediate. Perhaps our society has done this to us and so limited us. As I look back, primitive man was interdependent for survival and success. In today’s world, we stress independence and self-sufficiency.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” Carl Jung

I find myself wandering, searching, and pondering a bit today, thinking of Bushmen, Foxfire, and a former student. I wonder what if I had known this student say fifteen years ago and not just for the few years I was involved with him. I wonder what if I had read Von der Post years ago and had not just found this great author and human being more recently. I often wonder if I had done something differently would a former student be in prison now serving three life sentences in the Jackson, Georgia Psychiatric Prison Facility. I recall as the day gets near, each tiny shred of influence we have is noticed and perceived, and each idea is carried away by those around us many times we do not even know. As a teacher, often we never see how we influence a student, and often as with my former student, we cannot be there every moment and assist with every choice made. We can only provide pieces to the puzzle and offer directions and strategies for solving each puzzle as it is presented.

Recently, a friend began a new direction, and her daily wandering and philosophizing ceased on the internet, and a piece of me was left wondering. Perhaps the teacher in me finds changes while a necessity is still tricky. I commented to my wife over the weekend that while very independent, I am still a creature of routine and have a hard time with change. In less than two months, new students will enter my room for the first time, exposed to perhaps a different type of teacher, and I wonder how it will be taken. It will be fun and hopefully enlightening, so peace, my friends, for today, and 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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