Life is a journey only made difficult if there is no learning involved

Bird Droppings February 16, 2023
Life is a journey only made difficult if there is no learning involved

My lead teacher in fourth-grade reading was out today, and I was covering and going to class earlier than usual. A little boy, I think kindergarten in age, was walking towards me in the hallways with a tear in his eye. I did not know him, but he came right up to me and asked me to put the other little boy on the naughty list that threw water on him. He said he went in there, pointing to one of the rooms near us. I said I would see what I could do and told him to tell his teacher. As I get older and my beard gets whiter, there is an extraordinary power in young people’s imaginations.

“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” Henry Van Dyke

It has been a few days since I visited my mother, father, and brothers’ gravesite, or I should say, stood by them. I recalled the day I was called from work almost twenty-five years ago; my brother had passed away during the night. I looked about the hillside where he was buried; now, my father and mother are also buried there. The farm had been home to many families over the years. Most recently, a family of sharecroppers tilled the land planting cotton for nearly sixty years and ran a dairy farm for a local land baron and financier. He, too, has passed away and left his name on a local church gym and road signs around the county.

As I looked out now, soccer fields and houses were not too many years ago; boll weevils were poisoned with arsenic, and mules driven along furrows plowing terraces to keep what remaining topsoil was there in place. I saw a crow land in an old cedar tree. I walked over and watched the crow for a few minutes and recalled that when you see cedar trees six or so in a row, there was once an old fence line traditionally in Georgia. I knew this particular row well, for I had taken the old rusty barbed wire myself many years ago that ran through them.

I wanted to sit at my brother’s gravesite as I thought back several years to a similar time when I was waiting for my father to come home from the hospital sitting in this exact spot. I was sitting, wondering at all that had happened in the twenty years since. What journeys had I been on? As I thought, I glanced over several burial markers from before the civil war from a family that had lived on this land many years ago. Little granite houses literally fashioned from slabs of rock into body-sized homes. There are four that can still be seen through the thicket of old honeysuckle vines and sumac stalks.

I was thinking back to when my children, nieces, and nephews made the mosaic tiles to lay on my brother’s grave. There is one for each of my mother’s grandchildren, and each is a piece fashioning their ideas into a mosaic of individual tiles and pieces of glass. There were several music notes on one, an ibis on another, flowers on several, and an art design with a heart and arrows coming from it on another. I thought it would be great to have a guidebook explaining each color and tile to know why, where, and who placed each one.

On a different thought, I received an email from a dear friend in Pennsylvania many days back responding to a dropping from a few days ago. She added an idea, “The past cannot be changed, but the future is whatever you want it to be.” She was not sure where it came from. I searched this morning and came up with an unknown author. But as I looked and wondered about our mosaics in life, my own in particular, what road I was on, where was I going. Would one day I look back and see the tiles in place in my own life and try to recall why and where, and how a most challenging journey has been?

I recall days I would have wished on no one and am sorry I lived, but I wonder. I went out earlier and watched the moon faint behind a bank of clouds slowly moving across the morning darkness. It was so quiet, nearly silent, as I walked around this morning with only a car in the distance to mark civilization’s intrusion on my peace.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.” Buddha

I wonder about this as I look back on a day or two. We were joking with nurses and the doctor in the last few moments before the sedative took effect while I was having surgery. What if we wander from our thoughts and drift astray for a moment? Does our world change manipulated by where we are at the time?

“Things do not change; we change.” Henry David Thoreau

It has been a week of questions of seeking answers within obsolete absolutes, wondering if, and trying to find which pathway is easier to tread. I am changing my life to live, and I will watch what I eat rather than eat anything in sight. Additionally, I need to lose weight and start a regular exercise program. Most significant to me is returning to my morning meditation and interaction with all that is.

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Throughout my life, I have made choices in despair many times rather than from exhilaration and, on some occasions, made a mistake. As I sat wondering, reading Twain’s words, it caught me so often that complacency ties us in, casts off the bowlines, explores the dream, and discovers, as Twain so eloquently stated. I have always been a searcher traveling through this life, exploring the myriads of trails and pathways. I am always looking, exploring, wondering, talking, asking questions, and seeking answers without any answers, wearing out shoes as I travel. Many times and I would walk barefoot rather than stop.

I recall a brief journey where I had to take off my shoes and, in doing so, learned several lessons. Number one, you cannot break in new boots on a weeklong hike. Number two is that moleskin is a wonderful invention; third, it will protect your feet. Your feet can be the difference between another journey and sitting down and waiting. I have wandered today trying to resolve for myself issues that may never be resolved, ideas that will perpetuate my soul for some time. I have, yet it is as Mark Twain stated, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do.” So everyone, as you go, takes another step, searches down another pathway, and find a new trial in life, but do not try and break in new boots. Please 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,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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