Bird Droppings December 17, 2022
Building Sandcastles drip by drip
It was nearly twenty years ago when I was physically attending classes in graduate school almost every day, just before switching to Internet classes and WebCT. This took some getting used to going to school and then teaching school. I taught from 7:20 – 3:00 for students who had difficulty with a subject and then drove an hour to graduate school from 5:00 – 9:30. Going from teacher to student; my day made for an exciting schedule. It was a time of flux for me; getting used to a new computer and new administration changes in our school made life interesting.
I recall one summer session where my middle son tutored several students who had failed chemistry during the regular school year and now had to pass in the summer session. I found it most interesting watching him working with these students. He would often help me break bridges in a physical science class I was teaching while he was helping with tutoring. In that class, we only built twenty-one-inch bridges of popsicles, sticks, and white glue, and then we would see whose bridge design could hold the most weight. The various designs ranging from zero to over eighty pounds in breaking weight were fascinating.
I also had a side experiment on building pyramids which involved a sandbox, and in the course of having my sandbox set up as I do for this project, I built a sandcastle, albeit a small one. I went back to teaching, and as I watched, one of my students smashed my three-inch drip castle, not because I built it, just because it was there. Later that same person smashed several of the broken bridges, and as I watched, observing simply to break them, no real reason other than that. It made me think about all that happened that day as I looked back. Some people can create new ideas and concepts for others to see and follow. My mind wandered a bit to complete those ideas and concepts as I was thinking about the great cathedral in Barcelona that would not be completed until 2026. Sadly, among those people are others who see an idea or a concept and tear it down not because of what it is or isn’t but literally without thought or reason to tear it down. In today’s news, Notre Dame cathedral is still under repair and may not be able to be repaired due to the fire. Timeless and priceless, a manufactured edifice succumbed to man’s accident. It made me think of my father and his first book, Damage Control. He was the first to approach property damage as a form of loss in industry in 1955.
Surprisingly, it saddened me to watch my tiny three-inch castle smashed not through a random wave or step or misstep by a passerby but a deliberate effort. I returned to a thought I used in class many times and wrote my droppings over the years from Kent Nerburn, a sculptor by education. He writes about when we are born and have a piece of marble to sculpt. Some create marvelous works of art, others drag this block behind, and some smash the marble into gravel. Last night, I sat thinking about seeing my son and his wife and our grandkids, which had me reminiscing about that summer school class. It might be thinking about upcoming courses and pondering my day ahead and into this new semester a few weeks away. Sadly, students have imposed limits upon themselves only to tear down and smash into gravel, never to see their work shine upon a pedestal, a finished piece of artwork. One of my students did not turn in a project I knew was complete and failed because of it. I will try and figure out why?
“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.” Thomas Jefferson
In our daily journeys, we are faced with individuals who choose only to tear down and would instead relish destruction than creation who do not understand lifting, yet we need to continue to try and show there is more to life.
“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curious of inquiry. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.” Albert Einstein
So maybe it is a miracle, as Mr. Einstein says, even for my castle destroyer to be in school, for he chooses to be there; he was not forced. Who knows, maybe something will rub off, and one day I may find him sitting by a sandbox, drizzling sand between his fingers into a drip castle instead of smashing them. So a simple thought for a simple day, and as we go about this day, during the holidays, we hear less of our friends and families in harm’s way; they are still some thousands of miles away we need to keep them in our thoughts. Sadly, politics plays into what is deemed significant for news, and far too often, that is the case. People are hurting here in the US and even here locally that we tend to bypass and pretend not to see. So please keep all in harm’s way on our minds and in our hearts, and so have a glorious day today and be sure always to give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)