Bird Droppings October 22, 2022
An eclectic morning
I walked out into a clear sky, and stars gleamed above me. The smiling moon had settled behind the pine trees to the east. My feet got cold, walking about in flip-flops. I walked my wife to her car; she was headed to Warner Robins to visit her mother and decided to lie back down. I eventually made my way to my computer, texting with my sons as I do many mornings on the weekends. It has been a few years since a group of students, and I began discussing the Davinci Code and other philosophical diversions. The idea of fearing death as a basis for religion also came up over lunch. As I get older, sitting around wondering about life and death, each little joint pain or chest pain, I wonder if I will see my grandkids again. I was sitting here thinking I had not even considered this idea before a trip to the pulmonologist and being confronted with my mortality. What took me to the doctor turned out to be something that can be controlled by a healthier lifestyle and eating, not the potentially dangerous alternative. But it made me think, and my procrastination addiction only got worse. So I need to address my thinking to rise above and lift out of the funk I fell into.
“Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.” Mahatma Gandhi
It has been a few years since I watched an episode of Star Trek; it may have been one of the movies. Spock has interfered with Star Fleets’ objectives about a small group of colonists on an obscure planet. It seems they live forever, or at least aging is so minute that lifetimes are measured in tens of thousands of years. Interestingly, they became nearly primitive by choice, living off the land and pursuing wisdom, reading, writing, and all forms of artwork. Life became a process of continually improving since time was not a factor. As I read this quote from Gandhi earlier, this movie popped into my mind.
“The world is apprehended by way of the mind, the world is acted upon by way of the mind, and all good things and bad exist in the world by way of the mind.” Samyutta Nikaya
As I thought further about Star Trek and this group of people living on a planet where radiation from their sun seemed to be the key to longevity, I reflected on several incidents at school almost ten years ago. My assistant Principal came in with thirty minutes left on the day before a holiday to do observation, or so she said, sticking her head in the door. On top of the timing, I had two extra students who had been placed with me since they were not functioning in regular classes. They were in a holding pattern for a day or two. I was in the middle of trying to alleviate a yearbook emergency, rewiring a CD burner, and trying to print out a picture for a teacher who wanted her daughter’s angel scene from a Christmas play I just took for the drama dept. And several extra students were assisting in helping to download hard drives from refurbished computers. So, ten things happened in the last thirty minutes of the last day before the holiday, not counting an observation.
I never mind observations and probably have had more in my last ten years than most have in a lifetime, or was my AP getting back at me for several previous practical jokes? But we think what we portray in our minds within seconds I was shifted from disaster to plotting a new reprisal. I got quite a good report on diversity and individualizing learning situations.
“Honesty can be cultivated by transforming your inner language. For example, you might think: “I am no good” or “They are not good.” Is this true? For some strange reason, people want to wallow in the idea of being either the best or the worst. What is true in this moment? How close can we get to the reality of our experiences?” Martine Batchelor, “Meditation for Life
Thinking back to the movie, Spock is trying to save the Utopian society of a small group of people as he turns against Star Fleet the film. The reason that Star Fleet wanted this planet was literally to sell and package longevity. They were willing to destroy people for profit. Human nature, many would say. I observed those two extra students I had on that observation day. One of them I have for a period every day, the other I did not know. As I thought to why both ended with me, it was because of inappropriate behavior in class. Such terms as acting out and attention-seeking were used. I was a big fan of “Law and Order,” a popular TV show. Last night a young boy who had been abused was talking with the prosecutor and recalled a particular day in his life. The very man who had abused him for four years was the hero by chance. He was concerned he was “sick” because the most incredible day of his life was also with the person who destroyed his life. Shortly after, this young man tried to kill himself on the show.
“Real love is not based on the attachment but on altruism. In this case, your compassion will remain as a humane response to suffering as long as beings continue to suffer.” the Dalai Lama
We all need to be looking at our lives. Are we trying to oversimplify? Are we honest with ourselves? Do we use the word love as merely an attachment? Can we be more than we are in our given time? Many issues as we head into the holiday season. I need to take my wife’s car to the service station, and here in the Atlanta area, soon we will be deluged with all the folks heading south. All significant interstates seem to converge here, and for a late Thursday, just a reminder from Will Rodgers.
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.” Will Rogers
So as I am thinking further.
“The appreciation of the profundity and subtlety of his thought comes only after serious study, and only a few of the most committed students are willing to expend the necessary effort. Many, upon first reading him, will conclude: that he was a churlish, negative, antisocial malcontent; or that he advocated that all of us should reject society and go live in the woods; or that each person has full license to do as he/she pleases, without consideration for the rights of others; or that he is unconscionably doctrinaire. His difficult, allusive prose, moreover, requires too much effort. All such judgments are, at best simplistic and, at worst, wrong.” Wendell P. Glick
Interesting, I thought Glick was referring to me in this passage, but it is Henry David Thoreau. In a lesson plan on teaching, Thoreau Glick points out the difficulties even today; However, Henry David Thoreau is recognized as a great writer; his idiosyncrasies kept him from public acknowledgment in his time.
“He had in a short life exhausted the capabilities of this world; wherever there is knowledge, wherever there is virtue, wherever there is beauty, he will find a home.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, In his eulogy for Thoreau
Early today, I was answering an email about how I had gone into teaching. A friend from high school never imagined me teaching, and I found that interesting because I have been teaching swimming lessons, boy scouts, etc., since I was twelve. As a parent, we are always teaching. I started with Henry David Thoreau because he was a teacher, but he walked away from teaching to be a better teacher. Thoreau left to become a learner. He sought knowledge; he craved new ideas and thoughts. Everything about him was a classroom.
“Yet, hermit and stoic as he was, he was fond of sympathy and threw himself heartily and childlike into the company of young people whom he loved, and whom he delighted to entertain, as he only could, with the varied and endless anecdotes of his experiences by field and river: and he was always ready to lead a huckleberry-party or a search for chestnuts or grapes. Talking, one day, of public discourse, Henry remarked that whatever succeeded with the audience was bad.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
In my email this morning, my friend wrote about how teaching should be fun and how her fellow teachers thought her methods were different for many years. Other teachers often wonder what I do with students and how and why. But they learn, and they ask questions. I was looking back earlier to why I chose to teach. Initially, it was because of a Biology teacher I had in tenth grade. I wandered away from direct teaching into publishing training materials for twenty-three years and came back. Often I find myself using the statement I am where I need to be now. My pathway has led me to this spot. Soon we will have a day of thanksgiving for holiday family and friends. So often, within the constraints of life, we find times of sorrow. Please be aware that around you and nearby, someone may be suffering as we celebrate; offer a hand, a shoulder, a thought, and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and borrow from a veteran and friend from an email many months back and with veterans day a few days away and still very applicable today.
“Please remember the sons and daughters in faraway lands, for once we were them,” Reah Wallace, retired Navy
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)