Bird Droppings August 29, 2022
I am told there is a reason.
Early today, I should not get into disagreements on Covid, and I try to avoid it. I have strong feelings about vaccines being a polio survivor, and I mentioned I was one of the lucky ones I survived till I started back to teaching. I thought further, and luck is a superfluous word. In reality, there is no luck. As I recall the story, my mother had received a controversial shot while pregnant with me. She said that is what kept me alive from polio. Before I contracted polio, I had seizures and, on several occasions, stopped breathing to the point of near death. Quick thinking and timing saved my life. Several years later, playing softball, I severely broke my lower jaw in a game. After surgery, I swelled up and again was unable to breathe. The doctor thought my heart stopped and was within a few seconds of doing a tracheotomy. So, by the time I was twenty-one, I had essentially been dead or nearly dead four times. Was it luck, or did I have more to do?
I am sitting here now, an old man pondering life and still feeling I have much to offer this reality. I wonder as I think far too often; we stop thinking, trying pondering.
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” Robert Byrne
I often wonder about this idea, as have so many before me and will after I am gone. Philosophers wonder, and wise men ponder, is their purpose, a reason for each of our existences. Over the years, numerous books and articles show the intertwining and interconnecting of lives and reality and have been written and reflected on by many great thinkers. I have seen the interplay daily of my own experience with others in the school where I teach and my family and friends.
“To have no set purpose in one’s life is the harlotry of the will.” Stephen MacKenna
“Great minds have purposes; others have wishes.” Washington Irving
Many thinkers of one school of thought consider that we go at life with a purpose; however, it is a cognitively involved rationale for existence. This is control of self, of the mind within the individual, and that is where that purpose exists and is carried out.
“We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years and justify our existence… on pain of liquidation.” George Bernard Shaw
Shaw perhaps goes a bit far, but daily, do we not have to justify our existence as we interact and are involved with others in this reality?
“An “unemployed” existence is a worse negation of life than death itself.” José Ortega y Gasset
So often, I see children and adults wandering with no purpose. Sadly, I see this, yet could there be more to it than a self-motivated purpose and self-imposed rational process that provides all answers?
“A useless life is an early death.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Are we subject ourselves to others’ opinions about why we are here, or is this an individualistic program of deliberation of each person finding their reason? Is there an over the blanket of purpose, perhaps some ethereal veil that shrouds us all in purpose?
“I love the valiant, but it is not enough to wield a broadsword; one must also know against whom.” Friedrich Nietzsche
Perhaps a bit deep, but Nietzsche always is as he is drawing his illustration to that of knighthood. It is one thing to be a knight, but their purpose is if there is no opposition or foe to defeat.
“When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” Seneca
There is a compass, directional beacon, sense of whom and where we are in the world within each of us. That driving force, that searching for the harbor could be our purpose in life and existence?
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” George Bernard Shaw
A bit dramatic and direct, Shaw draws the difference between seeking self-indulgence versus a higher goal in our search.
“To have a grievance is to have a purpose in life.” Alan Coren
Seeing fault can be just having a different opinion or view and then asking why. These, too, are aspects of our makeup that provide individualism and uniqueness to our days.
“Men, like nails, lose their usefulness when they lose direction and begin to bend.” Walter Savage Landor
Life is a journey; how many times have I used that phrase? I think I do so literally daily as I talk with students, teachers, parents, and friends. Each facet of the puzzle is as complex and crucial to the whole as the next. We each have a purpose and meaning. Far too often, we underestimate who and what we are. We demean ourselves in self-pity and doubt. I will use the illustration of a puzzle, a magnificent jigsaw puzzle with millions of pieces. Each of the pieces has many facets, each more intricate than the next. They are all falling into place within this life. Occasionally, we see the connections, but more so than not, we see the puzzle piece’s gray backing.
“We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life is much like a great play unfolding, although we often never see the script until the act is over. As we start a new week and with so much turmoil here and abroad, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart’s namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)