Bird Droppings April 5, 2023
“In the government schools, which are referred to as public schools, Indian policy has been instituted there, and it’s a policy where they do not encourage, in fact, discourage, critical thinking and the creation of ideas and public education.” Russell Means
I walked early this morning before sunrise taking out the trash and looking for a few photos. The moon was gone for the time being; as I walked down our walk, streaks of color formed intermixed with the clouds overhead in all directions. Georgia has been very wet, and temperatures are heading higher, although there was a freeze warning a few days back. We have had rain almost every day or two for several weeks, with more coming. There is a spot here and there, a raindrop here and there. Some days, it rains in the front yard and not the back. Generally, it is quick storms and pouring rain sporadically around. It might be in town and drive a half-mile and nothing, sort of a typical Georgia spring. We have been lucky we have had the rain at our house and in the surrounding area, easily judged by kudzu growth which is just getting started and wisteria that has already bloomed.
As a teacher, thinking back about three years ago, there was severe anxiety, especially with the online experience that was new to many. Some states had already started bringing students back in person, and our local county has stayed in class all school year. As the last official school day draws near one way or another, I am sitting here wondering as I look back to teaching. Hopefully, I will be teaching college this summer or next fall. Almost like starting a new year, do we have the books and paper, pencils and pens, markers, poster board, and the materials we need to spread the required knowledge?
In a world of rapid access and instant everything, can we even compete with all that is there as a humble teacher? I started with Russell Means, a key figure in Indian Activism for nearly forty-five years. Means is an actor having portrayed Chingachgook in Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day-Lewis.
“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance, and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. “Kent Nerburn
“Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow is wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly.” Inuit proverb
I read this and wondered, perhaps an old version of the Aerosmith quote I use so often life is about the journey, not the destination. “In the world of the Inuit, the moment is of utmost necessity as life hangs in the balance constantly. There is a forward-looking line, knowing we need wood to keep the fire going and food to sustain a living, and yet the moment is crucial. Last night I had a dream of teaching. Odd a teacher would dream of teaching, but it had significance to me as it was about teaching swimming. I started teaching swimming lessons when I was twelve or so. In teaching swimming, you have to learn to swim. By swimming, you cannot learn by reading a book. I find it amazing how we have taken and forgotten that simple concept of having context to the lesson. John Dewey would be rolling in his grave if he could see how much we have bastardized learning.
“Predicting the future is easy. It’s trying to figure out what’s going on now that’s hard.” Fritz R. S. Dressler
“Create your future from your future, not your past.” Werner Erhard
Recently I helped a friend write and design a brochure for a program they were doing. The front cover had a picture of a foundation and was worded something to the effect of building a solid foundation. For many people, life is trying to focus on the future, and they try to build a foundation based on a far-off goal. Often, they lose sight of what is here now and immediately. The Inuit knew tomorrow they would need wood for the fire, which would be found, but the heat is here now while it burns. So often need that goal set off in the distance, but we must live now to reach it.
“There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time, and the instrument plays itself.” Johann Sebastian Bach
Now right this moment is when you proceed to build toward your goal. Bach could not create his masterpieces without time spent hitting the right keys and practicing perfecting the music that would become timeless.
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.” Yogi Berra
Many years ago, newspapers would joke about the yogism and pick on the great catcher for the New York Yankees, and when he became a Major League Manager, they still made fun of his comments. However, looking at this quote, there is little difference when speaking about fire and wood, but when you need the fire, there sure is a borrowing from the Inuit statement I started with.
“Don’t do anything in practice that you wouldn’t do in the game.” George Halas
The great NFL coach was accurate in life as well. If you practice it in your life, you will do it. I often write about examples and try to set an example. It is in what we live that others see and understand us. I was walking in and noticed posters on a coach’s wall alluding to this concept. Several of the following were on his wall.
“If I don’t practice the way I should, then I won’t play the way that I know I can.” Ivan Lendl
“We all knew there was just one way to improve our odds for survival: train, train, train. Sometimes, if your training is properly intense, it will kill you. More often — much, much more often — it will save your life.” Richard Marcinko
Richard Marcinko was a former US Navy SEAL team commander and founder of the notorious SEAL Team Six, the group that took out Osama Bin Laden. He was an antiterrorist before it was being supported with federal tax dollars. Marcinko is now a security advisor and author writing about his exploits during Viet Nam and after the tenuous period as terrorism shifted as a means to accomplish a group’s ends. His concept of practice and training kept both himself and his men alive.
“If I miss one day of practice, I notice it. If I miss two days, the critics notice it. If I miss three days, the audience notices it.” Ignacy Paderewski
“An hour of practice is worth five hours of foot-dragging.” Pancho Segura
I received an email months ago that a good friend would be singing in a concert, and her email spoke of the joy and fulfillment of singing, performing, and perfecting the music. She was excited in her description of the event yet to take place and the thrill of performing. But is it the hours of dedication the audience sees and the emotions poured in over the hours of learning the music heard and not simply the one-hour recital at 7:00 Saturday night? Life is about practicing and working at knowing the wood will be there to keep the fire going. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your heart’s namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)