What do we miss?

Bird Droppings June 28, 2022
What do we miss?

Walking the beach at sunrise, it is easy to miss the small things while gazing at a beautiful sunrise. One might find a starfish, angel wing shell, or even a cannonball jellyfish. It is similar in life, and we often overlook small matters, focusing only on the large. For many years, this song has resonated with me. I have listened to many bands, and individuals sing this song over the years. Perhaps the songwriter does it best, and Bob Dylan can sure write a song.

All Along the Watchtower

There must be some way out of here,
Said the joker to the thief,
There’s too much confusion,
I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine,
Plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth.

No reason to get excited,
The thief, he kindly spoke,
There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that,
And this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now,
The hour is getting late.

All along the watchtower,
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went,
Barefoot servants, too.
Outside in the distance
A wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching,
The wind began to howl.”

All along the Watch Tower, the words and Music are by Bob Dylan and have been covered by almost every major rock star from Jimmy Hendricks, Eric Clapton, Guns and Roses, and Bruce Springsteen. Some names around. I read the words from the song and thought how easily this could apply to the political fiasco we continue to be mired in. Every day I talk with strangers, students, friends, family, and a few maybe that are hard to define. Within my family, I have a reputation for allowing an extra hour or so whenever I leave the house because I will find people to talk with. I use the reference of a circle often. As far back as 1971, I wrote about the circle of life and defined myself within a circle. It was my understanding of the circle that has changed over the years. Perhaps it is wisdom and reading and discussing all of the above. I often reference the passage from Black Elk, Lakota Sioux medicine man.

“You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours….” Black Elk

It was back a few years I was writing, still learning about the circle of life, and received on August 6, 2003, an email from a dear friend.

“Dear Bird, the circle may have more to do with the philosophy of letting the river flow. I think our culture is more involved with the spiral in the up direction. We have a hard time revisiting, editing, honing, or learning from experience – all involve the circle.” Frances Friedman

Frances and I have had a dialogue of sorts ongoing now for almost twenty years with thoughts, words, and ideas, and as I read this, I recalled a bowl of objects in my room and a Shel Silverstein book, The Missing Piece meets the Big O. Most of us are familiar with river stones, pebbles, or rocks that are worn smooth with the flow of the river or stream. In Africa, some of the hardwood trees have wood so dense it sinks, and as a result, pieces of trees will fall into the river or stream and, much like river stone, tumble and spin and soon have a round look like a river stone. I have a bowl of river stone wooden rocks in my room.

The story from the late Shel Silverstein is that of a pie shape piece missing from the whole (or so they think) and is sitting waiting for the right piece, which is missing a piece to come by. The piece sits and sits, and finally, after many seasons and many pieces, a BIG O tells him you are on your own and can do what you want. The piece begins to flip flop and such, and soon as the edges wear down, it begins to roll. It is its piece, a straightforward child’s story, maybe in a world where we all search for identity.

“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Thomas Carlyle

So often, we wait, wanting only to be what we are not willing to learn to change into and grow. A piece of wood lying on the bottom of a stream in many parts of the world would float away. However, as my pieces attest, some will roll and tumble, smoothing the edges rounding off and soon be like the river stones. Just as the missing piece learned, sometimes you have to move, adjust, begin to roll, and sometimes even change or sit and wait as Carlyle states, what will you miss.

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which man’s mind 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

Frances Friedman mentioned how so often we forget to learn from experience. So often, in our hurries, we are not watching, looking seeing. As I prepare for my classes, I have been working on the concept of SUCCESS. Many of the people I know can relate to failure but not success. It is a new concept and experience, but hopefully, they will learn through experience and move beyond failure.

“When I hear somebody sigh that ‘Life is hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?’” Sidney J. Harris

In contrast and compare, Harris is a thinker many may not know. He was a writer from the 1960s through his death in the 1980s. A teacher friend nearly thirteen years ago shared several of his articles with me, and Harris’ columns are fascinating to read. Strictly Personal is the name of his old column and in archives on the internet. You can find many of his articles, which are all good reading.

As I look back on my own life and times and see where and when corners were rounded, I learned, succeeded, and failed many times. I also see other people who were affected by that moment, and hopefully, they have been affected positively and grown. Yesterday I was in the guidance office, and a little boy was sitting on the floor. His dad is still overseas, and I was forced to think for a moment, 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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