Bird Droppings September 20, 2022
Seeing all is connected and intertwined
As I thought about the Sydney J. Harris passage below and walked out to my car, I thought of my quiet spot on my back porch where I meditated, and something hit me. I generally sit facing east towards the rising sun; daily, the gossamer threads of life are interconnected with everything. Spiders busy the night before spin threads of silk across the terrain. They are always iridescent and softly moving with the wind. Occasionally one thread would disconnect and float effortlessly upwards, sparkling and dancing as it went ever so slowly into the clouds. Each twig, each plant, and leaf seemed to be connected. Each rock and branch is a tiny thread weaving through the entire visage before me.
I sat on my back porch for a few minutes, watched a Joro spider working on her web, and decided I needed to go for a walk. I followed the strands of silk, finding several orb weavers and more writing spiders. I am always amazed at the simplest of things catching my attention. My brief walk uncovered fifteen different flowers and seven spiders before I sat down and lit some white sage. As the smoke spiraled and my mind cleared, all interconnectedness hit me hard. Thinking back on my former students as I communicated with one in college to teach special education, hopefully, I provided a piece of the puzzle for them.
“When we try to pick anything out by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” John Muir
Most people would read this and scoff, yet in the early morning, as the sun rises and begins to move across the skies, spiders have been at work all night, moving between plants and rocks, trees and leaves, leaving threads of silk. If you were standing in the midst of them, they would be invisible, yet with the sun behind sparkling in the light, a beautiful scene as I sat pondering as to an older man sitting looking towards the east in the early morning many years ago and coming in to tell his grandchildren as I started the passage. On the back of my t-shirt, it reads all things are connected and rightly so by a thin gossamer strand of silk. So many thoughts today as I sit and ponder. In my case, how we interact with our children and grandchildren is of the utmost importance.
“Our task is to make our children into disciples of the good life, by our own actions toward them and toward other people. This is the only effective discipline in the long run. But it is more arduous and takes longer than simply “laying down the law.” Before a child (or a nation) can accept the law, it has to learn why the law has been created for its own welfare.” Sydney J. Harris
Today I am faced with dealing with how to accomplish all that needs to be finished by Friday. Several job applications and chapters one and two of my dissertation. I was reading and discussing how procrastination is a form of anxiety. My nephew is a clinical psychologist, and he and I compared notes on autism and discussed anxiety. I would have never considered myself anxious, but as I researched, I am and then manifest through procrastination.
“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.” Aristotle
“Self-command is the main discipline.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Many years ago, I spent six months counseling in a psychiatric unit in a state mental facility. There was never a question about why something happened, as they were considered combative psychotic adolescents, which was the term used to describe the unit. When someone got upset, it was solitary confinement, rather large doses of drugs, and a few strait jackets were employed. Little was occurring to change the behavior, rationalize those behaviors, and or find why that behavior occurred. Deal with the moment.
“Anybody who gets away with something will come back to get away with a little bit more.” Harold Schoenberg
“Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” John Trapp
Often as I find a quote, the person behind those words has more to offer as if the situation with Schoenberg is a music scholar, and he is also a very prolific writer about great musicians and their music. John Trapp was a bible scholar with several biblical commentaries to his credit. Both men were writers who themselves were very self-disciplined.
“THE STUDY OF WORDS is useless unless it leads to the study of the ideas that the words stand for. When I am concerned about the proper use of words it is not because of snobbism or superiority but because their improper use leads to poor ways of thinking. Take the word ‘discipline’ that we hear so much about nowadays in connection with the rearing of children. If know something about word derivations, you know that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ come from the same Latin root discipulus, which means ‘to learn, to follow.’” Sydney J. Harris, Strictly speaking
Sitting here looking up references and quotes related to behavior and ending up with the example, to learn and to follow this is semantics as we go. To operate a public school, we have standards to operate by, so we have rules. From a behaviorist standpoint, it is easy to say ABC, Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. First, you have an antecedent that stimulus is what causes the behavior. Then you have the behavior, the event or action we see, feel, or hear about. Finally, we have consequences which can be what we do in response or what the students or person issuing the behavior receives for eliciting that behavior.
“What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?” Leonard Cohen
“Act the way you’d like to be, and soon you’ll be the way you act.” George W. Crane
“To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.” Rene Descartes
It is always about what we do. Over the past few days, I have been discussing perception with several teachers and friends, which is how we see events and happenings. One of the categories in writing a behavioral plan for a student is planned to ignore often simply tuning out a behavior. Often with no stimulus to keep it going, a behavior will disappear. So often, it is getting the attention that is the desired consequence.
“People don’t change their behavior unless it makes a difference for them to do so.” Fran Tarkenton
“Physics does not change the nature of the world it studies, and no science of behavior can change the essential nature of man, even though both sciences yield technologies with a vast power to manipulate the subject matters.” B. F. Skinner
These lines from a football hall of fame quarterback and the father of behaviorism are intriguing as these two men from distinctly different arenas yet have come to remarkably similar conclusions in their thoughts. Tarkenton has built an internationally known management consulting firm based on his thought. It must make a difference to the person for them to change. Skinner sees we can manipulate the subject matters as we can offer alternative consequences to change the behaviors to ones we can accept hopefully. A Sydney J. Harris line caught my attention as I started on discipline and prepared for several IEPs later this week, some related to behavior.
“…by our own actions toward them and toward other people.” Sydney J. Harris
So often, it is not the consequences that deter or change a behavior but our actions towards the person and those around them. It is the example we set and not what we say that matters. Please, as we venture out today, keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your heart, and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)