About birddroppings

I am a College instructor part time, formerly retired Special Education high school teacher in Georgia now back in class room. I have been teaching most recently for twenty years. I have an extensive graphic arts background and industrial management training experience. My education includes undergraduate work in psychology, graduate degrees in behavior disorders, curriculum, education and theology.

Listening to a philosopher

Bird Droppings November 26, 2020

Listening to a philosopher

The day started with rain and as we went out to the store it shifted clouds were pushed aside and sunshine poked through. A beautiful sky this morning as I walked out and not too cold which is surprising as the sky was clear. I cannot wait again for a night when the moon is reflecting across from the west lighting up the sky and white billowing clouds present a surreal picture for me as I walk out in the morning. I was reading in National Geographic an article on possible life somewhere out in the universe and all the possibilities that continue to pop up. It has not been long since I fancied myself a philosopher of sorts. Perhaps it was my graduate work that got me truly entrenched in philosophical meandering that led to this conclusion or trying a million times to formulate a philosophy of teaching while it evolved before me. I think it is because I enjoy pondering way too much. I seem to find time to wonder and think about all that is around me as I journey through life.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“How people keep correcting us when we are young! There is always some bad habit or other they tell us we ought to get over. Yet worst habits are tools to help us through life.” Friedrich Nietzsche

As I looked for a starting place for my daily writing, I was interrupted to run into town to get a few things and then I could get back to my writing. As I went up and down the stairs and walked out into a sky as wonderful as it is this morning I recalled a period in my life when I would get up every morning early and walk several miles discussing philosophy, theology and other relevant issues with a very good friend of mine. It was an interesting time and many concepts that I hold now came to fruition during those walks. Over the years as I look back and truly most things considered that I consider “bad habits” I had given up in the days past however they do provide tools for pondering ideas further and pushing thoughts beyond where they were. I have found however many people simply get mired in that bad habit or two and it becomes part of their life not merely a steppingstone or tool but a crutch and support. Perhaps even a cast of sorts locking them into that point in time.

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” C. Everett Koop

Most folks will not even recognize the name of Dr. Koop former Surgeon General of the United States and former head of pediatric surgery at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. As I thought of Nietzsche’s quotes and while not taking a walk today I did go and walk dogs twice outside so my wife and son would not have to get up as the holiday is officially over and we all are back at work today. I started writing a bit later today then I thought I would. Nietzsche as you read his work is often self-focused and negative and perhaps in some ways, I like looking to his thoughts for contrast for adding a back drop to a brighter thought. Somewhere I started writing about Dr. Koop.

Dr. C. Everett Koop was instrumental in the anti-cigarette laws and anti-tobacco laws. On a personal note he was the surgeon for my younger brother many years ago when we lived in Pennsylvania. My father used to tell a story of Dr. Koop, his staff and my father all gathered around John, my brother who was born with cerebral palsy and later developed encephalitis’s who was approaching surgery. Dad would say having been in the Navy medical corp. and around death in WWII so much the aura around Koop was different, he exuded life he thrived on life and when he asked all to join hands and pray around John he made my father’s day.

But one thing that has stuck with me from dads conversation with Dr. Koop was a quote very seldom seen, “Having worked with terminally ill children and seriously ill children for many years in all of those years I have never seen a parent of one of these children who did not have faith”. As I think back and remember bits and pieces, Dr. Koop’s comment, and discussions with my father he was not referring to religion as much as to faith. Faith also parallels trust, and it was in that trust in Dr. Koop and or trust in the hospital that parents would have faith and hope. Dr. Koop was a man of hope, of future, and of faith.

“Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.” Saint Thomas Aquinas

“Our faith comes in moments… yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ending on the idea of faith as I enter a day filled with cooking and staying home with my wife I often wonder about students who question and students who refuse to question often in both cases based on faith. I am ending with a simple idea for another day or several ideas to ponder and mull over as we ascend the plateau to view the vista. Tomorrow a new month ahead my friends have a glorious day today, build for tomorrow and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your thoughts and to always give thanks namaste. Today I will venture out to give thanks and send thoughts of healing to several friends.

My friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin 

(We are all related)

bird

Perhaps I had a vision walking in moonlight

Bird Droppings November 25, 2020
Perhaps I had a vision walking in moonlight

As I walked out in the morning cool today, the sky was hidden in clouds. There was a sense of light about as I stood looking around, thinking as I do every morning. I will ponder my day and the week ahead even though I had cars to gas up and a run to Wal-Mart for odds and ends. I was reading very early this morning on one of my friend’s pages and a comment was made about me being a searcher. I have often felt that way as I wander through life. What was said about to me once many years ago from of all places, a psychic I had the chance of running into as I do find myself in those sort of places at times. She said I had been a searcher for a long time and perhaps still was. I am sort of a Daniel Boone of continually learning, searching, and pondering.

            “I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its         ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to            walk along the beach; we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing       motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forest and mountains, deserts and          hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as      our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can             know-unless it is to share our laughter. We searchers are ambitious only for life itself,   for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we want to love and be loved. We            want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our            search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We            do not want to prove ourselves to another or to compete for love.” James Kavanaugh

As I read this passage I thought of people who draw my attention and I theirs. My old room at Loganville High School would always be filled before class started each day with ten or fifteen teenagers drawn here perhaps for donuts but I quickly hid them. It seems I had lost a bet in fourth block and it was for donuts.  I wonder why many times kids come to talk and interact. Often I am too much for some and they tend to back away. For others they get drawn in to hear of what it is I am ranting about or listen to a story or read a thought. Often it is kindred spirits looking for and searching as Kavanaugh so eloquently writes about in this passage. Perhaps we are all searchers looking for answers in the flow and ebb of life’s forces.

Walking in the early morning today was for me an awakening an energizing of sorts. As I watched wisps of smoke rise and circle about as I blew on embers of sweet grass and sage.

“…each of us must follow his own path… Wherever we are, whoever we are, there is always quiet water in the center of your soul.” James Kavanaugh

No two journeys are the same and no two people see and hear the world about them in a manner that is can be construed as similar, while somehow we seem to exist together. I read a friend’s concerns about the world and the potential for peace. While he is so adamantly viewing all that is in one direction I may in my naiveté look another and following a path I believe will lead to that where I feel I need to go. It was in 1961 or so President Eisenhower warned against the coming Industrial Capitalistic Corporate powers and their efforts to take control. Many thinkers, philosophers believe that this is what has happened in our own country.

“The least of learning is done in the classrooms.” Thomas Merton, US religious    author, clergyman, & Trappist monk (1915 – 1968)

I use Thomas Merton often in my writing the spiritual mysticism has always caught my attention. Thomas Merton was an avid and practicing pacifist and antiwar leader. Merton was found dead in his room in 1968 in Bangkok, while on a spiritual and peace activist journey against the wars in Southeast Asia. I was looking at these words and began to realize in my own life it has been the pondering and searching that has led to learning. The pieces of what I experience in the classroom then bolstered by reflection and wonder build into learning as if the classroom were only a sampling of what is to be learned.
It is an appetizer of sorts.

I was involved in a group meeting for my doctorate several weekends past and many times the idea of becoming an avid learner a seeker of learning was mentioned. I recall a recent paper where as I wrote and researched and read others ideas my own grew significantly. As I think of current methodologies in schooling of the cramming of ideas into vacant space or so many teachers think. What if we borrow from a Sydney J. Harris concept and implant the grain of learning and nurture it as a pearl diver nurtures the oysters, and eventually that grain of sand will be a pearl. Often bigger and brighter than any the originator could have conceived of.

“The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to        say, ‘I was wrong.’” Sydney J. Harris

I am sitting and listening this morning to R. Carlos Nakai’s Sundance Season, a series of pieces that are directly tied to a sacred ceremony of his ancestry within the Ute tribe, the Sundance Ceremony. I recall a poster print of a Native American chief in my father’s room on the man’s chest a series of scars. These are from the Sundance Ceremony. Nakai’s music on this series of songs is based on and derived from the ceremony, one of pain, of courage, and ultimately of vision. As I look this morning we continually in our modern endeavors avoid such undertakings. Just by coincidence the Sundance Ceremony was banned by the US government till recently.


I was thinking of students who are content with the seventy grades and the “I am passing” or that famous modern quote of “whatever”. I can envision Daniel Boone as he traced through the mountains of Kentucky and North Carolina climbing along a ridge and saying “whatever” and heading home to the fireplace. There is an eerie piece on this CD that is playing it is played on a whistle made from the ulna bone of a golden eagle. Most people play one note on an eagle bone whistle, Nakai plays five and the haunting melody encompasses you.

“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.”       Thomas Merton

When I read this it had so many implications in learning and teaching in life in general and in our world view. I will strive for peace in my endeavors and thoughts each day. I will strive to promote learning in my students and a love of learning. There is a point when a student switches the switch and learning becomes second nature. It is finding that switch that is the difficult aspect of teaching. I watched the Ron Clark story a few nights back night and it was finding that switch that made the difference and the fact he never stopped looking when he could have walked away.

“The least of learning is done in the classrooms.” Thomas Merton

I am sitting, thinking and wondering about each day, the weekend ahead and holiday ahead and so many people who are in need of our thoughts, prayers and understanding. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and to always give thanks.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Venting a bit on a Tuesday Morning

Bird Droppings November 24, 2020

Venting a bit on a Tuesday Morning

I was slack with my daily journaling over the past two weeks. I have written for five days straight so far to make up. Yesterday I read several alarming posts on friend’s pages on Facebook and on internet news sites. I followed links and they led to para military groups discussing declaring a civil war. Another link was an old one supposedly about President Obama having tried to declare Marshall Law while he was in office with no information just a title and graphic. This same link led to another about how the white race would be gone in twenty five years. I read all the comments about our former President being a communist and socialist and my response is neither socio-economic system is even closely being approached in this country. At least it took the pressure off the bogus voter recounts and legal actions that seem to flood the news.

We are in overdrive capitalism here in the US, especially this time of year and with our current president elect. Greed rules above all else. We have highest stock market and biggest difference between wealthy and the rest of us ever in the history of our country.  Granted the great income difference is what Marx saw and wrote about as he pondered communism. However our government and that is both parties continues the process that maintains that elite few. Oil companies, defense contractors, pharmaceuticals, insurance and banking are booming in profits. That’s not communism and or socialism.

The recent election is a good example much of the budget suggested by the party that will be taking over impacts the very people who voted them which is significant contrast to cutting social security, tax credits, child care deductions etc. are all suggested budget of Republican platform. Better yet another favorite privatize Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and let insurance companies run them. Kind of like health insurance where top five health insurance carriers CEO’s are all paid in excess of 20 million a year, none of which benefits my health care.  

Taking away from any group of people is not socialism and or communism. I was told recently we are losing our freedoms and I asked which ones. Our freedom to not buy health insurance for an example was the reply. I offered than when you are sick cure yourself or pay your own bills. They asked you mean you would let me die and I said no you let yourself die. The worst post of the day was almost 160 million people voted in recent election and even with a boycott of black Friday last year nearly 200 million went shopping that speaks to me more than then the idiotic posts and blogs about communism and socialism and civil war. As long as we get what we want we don’t care about anybody else. So I will borrow from scripture.

Matthew 19:16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 19:17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 19:18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19:19 honor your father and mother,’c and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 19:20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 19:22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” NIV

I am not one to use scripture often but so often those spouting all the innuendoes mentioned above are using scripture. We could debate what is meant by this passage since it is framed by an ancient Hebrew commonly used expression for something difficult a camel through the eye of a needle, but I look more at the excess in our world and specifically in our country. No one cares about the environment, starving children, or few other things other than making a buck. The past controversy with the XL pipeline and Dakota pipeline are great examples. Currently almost a mote point since oil has gotten so cheap it costs more money to refine tar sands than they can get for it.  There are a huge group of Koch industries employees 35,000 promoting it through phone calls and conversation. Koch Industries owns 1.5 million acres of tar sands in Alberta. The pipeline is not carrying oil to benefit us here in US it is already in plans to go to Asia predominantly China. That has been in news off and on. Gas prices in US will not be impacted and why should they in a world of supply and demand price is based on who will pay the most we are bidding when we pay 2.00 a gallon with Chinese willing to pay more. The US is exporting more oil and refined oil products than any time in the history of our oil. The revolution that needs to occur is not one of military/militia/vigilante/gangs but one of people who care about others.

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” Mahatma Gandhi

My friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin 

(We are all related)

bird

So many thoughts for one day

Bird Droppings November 23, 2020
So many thoughts for one day

I believe I was prepared from childhood to discuss this topic. It has been many years since my first introduction to American Indians. I was three or four years old when I first remember my father’s stories of Little Strong Arm and Black Eagle. The term Native American had not officially become politically correct and we were raised with American Indian stories. My father’s stories came from his background in the Boy Scouts of America; he had been an Eagle Scout, a scout leader and summer camp program director. Indian lore was a major portion of Boy Scouting in those days. From a favorite book on Indian Crafts my father told us of counting coup. W. Ben Hunt explained the word and meaning.

“It was considered a great honor to count coup” W. Ben Hunt

My father worked his summers during college in New Hampshire at Camp Waunakee using Indian Lore as a base for camp activities and he was chief of the campfire. During his military service, as a medic on a navy LSM in World War II, I learned he had spent many hours talking with Navaho code talkers as his Navy ship delivered them to islands in the South Pacific. Through all of those years he would say he was part Indian but it was not until he was in his seventies that his sister uncovered my great grandmother’s lineage, Leni Lenape, a clan of the Delaware tribes and actually confirmed it. To me as a child Indians were special, my father instilled this in us but there was always a spiritual aspect I could not explain. As I was reading for this morning a thought I pulled out of another old book from my childhood days by William Tompkins. My father would use this book to teach us rudimentary sign language in case we ever needed to converse with Indians.

“The originators of the Indian signs thought that thinking or understanding was done with the heart, and made the sign “drawn from the heart” Deaf mutes place extended fingers of the right hand against the forehead to give the same meaning” William Tompkins

As I read this line that thinking and understanding comes from the heart in so much of Indian philosophy perhaps this was what drew me to this group of people. I grew up with feathers, drums, rattles and other Indian paraphernalia always around the house. In my own experiences the spirituality and acceptance of all things as sacred in the American Indian culture intrigued me. As I started into a graduate school program on curriculum theory, it had never occurred to me, how education had been so misused and so often deliberately so in history. Those in power avoided teaching some things; I use the term the fine print, in relation to American Indians.

The trust inherent in their culture and their understanding of life and nature was turned against them for profit and greed. Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman, a member of the Dakota tribe, a medical doctor and known in his tribe as Ohiyesa is quoted in Kent Nerburn’s, The Soul of an Indian as he addresses a major difference in white and Indian thought.

“Many of the white man ways are past our understanding …. They put a great store upon writing; there is always paper. The white people must think that paper has some mysterious power to help them in the world. The Indian needs no writings; words that are true sink deep into his heart, where they remain. He never forgets them. On the other hand if a white man loses his papers, he is helpless” Dr. Charles Eastman, Ohiyesa

In reading and discussing in grad school not much is different from the many innuendos in today’s education and curriculums of hidden agendas and political maneuvering. Looking back as I progressed in my own schooling I learned Columbus mistakenly called the indigenous people he encountered Indians thinking he had found a way to the Spice Islands of the West Indies. The name would stick until more recently as we became politically correct and use the term Native Americans. Columbus even wrote in his journal of presenting letters from the King and Queen to the Great Khan thinking he was in China or near according to noted historian Ronald Takaki.

As I became older and as I too sought out my own understanding of American Indians and my readings went deeper. During my undergraduate years I spent a semester in Texas and experienced firsthand a powerful hatred even then in 1968 for Native Americans. My own journeys very much paralleled my spiritual and educational pathways as with each step my ties and understanding grew. I was looking for answers even back then.

“When you see a new trail, or footprint you do not know, follow it to a point of knowing (introduction).” Uncheedah, grandmother of Ohiyesa

I was searching for answers even in those days. As I finished up my undergraduate program at Mercer University I began to realize why American Indians were never taught to read the fine print. In classes and from friends I received books and articles to read adding to my understanding. From one of our course texts, Author Joel Spring points out the concept of deculturalization.

“Deculturalization is one aspect of the strange mixture of democratic thought and intolerance that exists in some minds. The concept of deculturalization demonstrates how cultural prejudices and religious bigotry can be intertwined with democratic beliefs. It combines education for democracy and political equality with cultural genocide – the attempt to destroy cultures. Deculturalization is an educational process that aims to destroy a people’s culture and replace it with a new culture.” Joel Spring

From earlier on there was an effort to assimilate and dismantle the cultures of the Native peoples in America. In the early 1500’s Spanish colonists, were some of the first to deceive and destroy the native people? Several nights ago a recent History channel episode was based on Cortez and the conquering of the Aztecs. A statement was made by one of the historians on the show that in the course of less than two hundred years from that first encounter with Cortez, ninety percent of the indigenous people of the America’s were either killed or died from European based disease and a new world was enslaved by the Europeans.

So many times it was through deception. As the white man pushed into the new world treaties and agreements were signed often with little understanding on the part of the Native peoples. Land was not for sale yet the white man is offering us trinkets. How foolish is the white man? Vine Deloria Jr., states very clearly in his book Custer died for your sins:

“In the treaty of August 5, 1826, almost as if it were an afterthought, an article (III) stated: The Chippewa tribe grant to the government of the United States the right to search for, and carry away, any metals or minerals from any part of their country. But this grant is not to effect title of the land, or existing jurisdiction over it. The Chippewa’s, in the dark as to the importance of their mineral wealth, signed the treaty. This was the first clear-cut case of fraudulent dealings on the part of Congress. Close examination of subsequent Congressional dealings shows a record of continued fraud covered over by pious statements of concern for their words.” Vine Deloria Jr

I wonder if the Indian agents held their hand over portions of the treaty or wrote in such small lettering that most people could not read. It may have been perhaps using Old English lettering and only having taught in Times Roman fonts, which would bewilder most educated people even today. This concerted effort by those in control throughout American History was even condemned by the US government who were themselves, orchestrating much of it as shown by Joel Spring in his book.

“The US Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare issued in 1969 the report Indian Education: A National Tragedy-A national Challenge. The report opened with a statement condemning previous educational policies of the federal government: “A careful review of the historical literature reveals that the dominant policy of the federal Government toward the American Indian has been one of forced assimilation…. Because of a desire to divest the Indian of his land” Joel Spring

In many ways it was a naivety that undermined the Native Americans in their dealings with the Europeans and eventually US Government. But it was also an inherent trust that bound the various tribes and peoples together. There was no fine print to a Native American, his word was bond. It would be many years and near extinction till Native Americans realized the treachery. Kent Nerburn writes extensively about American Indian Spirituality and offers;

“The rule of mutual legal compact, with its European roots, had no precedent among the individualistic native peoples of the continent. In addition, the idea of land as personnel property, a key principle on which the United States was basing its treaties was alien to the native people. How could one own the land?” Kent Nerburn

Our own current study of curriculum shows many over lapping and residual effects and it goes far beyond just Native Americans. Those in power write fine print for one reason so that is not read and in doing so essentially control the overall outcome and direction of whatever is in question. My position is we have been as a people continually dealt agreements, contracts riffed with fine print in regard to education and curriculum to a point it has become what we expect.


Even as a teacher our contracts contains numerous areas of extremely fine print. Daily we are being handed fine print in the news and through the medias about Iraq, politics, religion, and many too numerous to mention including our own president elect. Maybe one day we can truly have a democracy in our democratic nation funny thing is educator John Dewey said and felt the best way to assure a democracy was through a democratic class room. So as I set my thoughts to paper and close for this morning please help others read the fine print and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Families and Friends

Bird Droppings November 22, 2020
Families and Friends

The holidays are getting here soon, this holiday will be different and turkey day might be less crowded, Pat and I were just talking might be first in forty-three years we had Thanksgiving alone. This semester of graduate school is ending. My grandkids all have a week off for Thanksgiving and we will be getting together with family more than likely on facetime or zoom. This is a time when traditionally celebrations abound, a time to enjoy family and friends. It is a time traditionally to be thankful. It is a time for families and friends.

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.” Anthony Brandt

“The family is the nucleus of civilization.” William Durant

We read and hear so much about how families are having problems in our world today. Yet within it all there are families that are together and that are strong and will persevere. As a teacher I know I need to set an example and provide a haven for some of these kids who are struggling because of family issues and time at home.

“My family begins with me; your family ends with you.” Iphicrates

“The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.” Thomas Jefferson

As I am getting ready to spent the better part of the next three or four days with family it is energizing for me to sit and pondering here this morning. A vast array of happenings coming up, my wife and I along with our sons travel to Warner Robins to celebrate Thanksgiving and Saturday is the big game of the year Georgia Tech and The University of Georgia one off the greatest rivalries in the southeast. So along with it all the family gatherings, lots of good food, watching football games, playing video games, driving to and from all the activities and just being with my family makes the next few days exciting.

“In every dispute between parent and child, both cannot be right, but they may be, and usually are, both wrong. It is this situation which gives family life its peculiar hysterical charm.” Isaac Rosenfeld

I personally grew up in a tightly knit family and have cousins as friend’s not just relatives that are situated somewhere on a map. Growing up we all had a special time as we gathered for reunions and holidays. I am still in close contact with my high school friends of now over forty years ago, still emailing friends around the country keeping tabs on their families.

“If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love friends for their sake rather than for our own.” Charlotte Bronte

“Friendship is the only thing in the world concerning the usefulness of which all mankind are agreed.” Marcus T. Cicero

As I looked for quotes today and read, so many are bias and self-centered both in references to family and friends. What do we have to gain rather than a sharing or a caring attitude, actually it was difficult as I read. So often I have found we have as people become so hardened as to others. There is a series of little books by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal entitled Small Miracles that is a reminder not everyone is hardened.

I read a story from one of their books a number of years ago. The story was of a young Jewish man who was frustrated with life and his current condition. He left his family to seek enlightenment in India and for years studied under various holy men and such in India. One day a friend from New York City came through the town he lived in and informed him his father had died. In all of his travels he actually thought one day he would make amends with his father. He gave up his spiritual journey in India and went to Israel to try and reconcile his feelings and felt his ancestral home would be a good start.

He asked a stranger as he walked into Jerusalem, where is a good place to start? He was directed to the Wailing Wall. In all the cracks of the wall were tiny slips of paper with prayers and dreams written, stuffed in by the thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands and some perhaps thousands of years old as the tradition went back many years going back to the temple built by Herod the Great which the wall is part of. He tearfully wrote a note, a prayer to his father asking forgiveness for all he had done to him leaving and denouncing his faith and family. He went to the wall and as he went to place his tiny scrap of paper in a crack one fell out.

He went to replace and it fell again and then a third time till he was compelled to read the note that continually was falling out. He carefully unfolded the tiny piece of paper and it was a prayer, it was from his father. Written nearly a year ago asking forgiveness from his son for him not believing in him and wanting to apologize for all the bad words. Needless to say he fell to his knees and sobbed for many hours. This is such a powerful message and a true story as written down by the authors of Small Miracles.

Why even bring this up? For many years I have felt we are all here with purpose and reason. So often we forget and side step our journeys and travels. Actually if you get a chance look up this series of stories in Small Miracles, all are true. But as you journey and travel along the road try and mend fences not tear them down, try and lift up rather than knock down, try and enlighten rather than darken lives and as a elementary teacher from many years ago told me always smile. Today as we head into a holiday and holiday weekend for many people keep all in harm’s way in your heart and on your mind. Peace be with you all.

My friends

I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin 

(We are all related)

bird

Trying to understand giving thanks, war and teaching

Bird Droppings November 21, 2020
Trying to understand giving thanks, war and teaching

I had a difficult time sleeping due to walking so much the past two days and my leg swelling. When I got up and started to walk around and downed a large mug of mate and black tea my head started to clear a bit and I began to wonder about this day we celebrate, thanking each other and ourselves. So many times, as in days before I open news articles and look through emails before writing or even thinking about what I will be writing that given day. I made a few comments on several thoughts and proceeded to ponder today’s potential thought and idea. As I looked through several posts and listened to family members argue the cons of the current administration over social media this this thought from ten years ago stuck with me this morning. As we prepare for a different Thanksgiving this year I am sharing these words.

“Thanksgiving Day, Americans across the country will sit down together, count our blessings, and give thanks for our families and our loved ones. American families reflect the diversity of this great nation. No two are exactly alike, but there is a common thread they each share. Our families are bound together through times of joy and times of grief. They shape us, support us, instill the values that guide us as individuals, and make possible all that we achieve. I’ll be giving thanks for my family for all the wisdom, support, and love they have brought into my life.

Today is also a day to remember those who cannot sit down to break bread with those they love; the soldier overseas holding down a lonely post and missing his kids, the sailor who left her home to serve a higher calling, the folks who must spend tomorrow apart from their families to work a second job, so they can keep food on the table or send a child to school.

We are grateful beyond words for the service and hard work of so many Americans who make our country great through their sacrifice. And this year, we know that far too many faces a daily struggle that puts the comfort and security we all deserve painfully out of reach. So, when we gather, let us also use the occasion to renew our commitment to building a more peaceful and prosperous future that every American family can enjoy.” President Barack Obama, 11/24/09

Words, simple words and how we hear and or read them again is then worked on by perception which is a learned and acquired factor. Somewhere along the way we develop and take into an account varying stimulus that leads us to how we see the world. As I read this short note of thanks from our previous president good or bad, democrat or republican, black or white the words struck a chord. There is so much we have in this world to give thanks for. Myself thankful I can at least walk around finally without a cast. I am sure there is pain and sorrow all over the world I know nothing about.

Dr. Michael T. Garrett in his writings discusses the theory of opposites. We need to have a balance in life which provides then definitive points for the other. Perhaps my growing up in Pennsylvania influenced my own thinking of pacifism and philosophical view of believing we do not need war. Yet around us worldwide strife is ongoing Thanksgiving Day or not. It is inside of us. We need to seek answers for our own understandings and acceptances of what we perceive within this world. Perceptions do change albeit not easily. But they can they are not engrained at birth but a learned and acquired commodity.

“Internal peace is an essential first step to achieving peace in the world. How do you cultivate it? It’s very simple. In the first place by realizing clearly that all mankind is one, that human beings in every country are members of one and the same family.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Within the passage is perhaps a key to humanities survival on this planet. It will never be done simply by who is most powerful, or who has the biggest guns and missiles. We must at some point accept others and understand others. As I read each morning and bits and pieces hit me my own slant which tends to be towards education and learning and I see that there is a tremendous responsibility lying in the laps of teachers. Throughout the world teachers have daily more input into students’ lives than any other human being. As I finished a paper on technologies many years ago, I saw how technology impacts our youth, actual human contact is dwindling daily.

“Preserve the fires in our hearts… Our world needs teachers whose fire can resist those forces that would render us less just, less humane, and less alive.” Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner, editors Teaching with Fire

I found this book several years ago on a Borders trip. The two editors have taken poetry that means something to teachers and with explanations from those teachers as to why this poem means so much created a book, Teaching with Fire. Over the years I have had similar questions asked. It has been only a few days since another a teacher asked me, had I ever hit my own children, and I said no. I was looked at funny, “you have never hit your children?” I in all honesty could not remember ever hitting my own children. Perhaps I have blocked out the dark side of my personality. Several weeks ago I was asked similar, your kids never hit you or your wife or did this or that, and again “no” was my answer then as well. “Well I guess you just are not normal” was the answer both times.

“Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from.” Jodie Foster

As I wonder at how others see the world like Jodie Foster’s thought. Several weeks ago, when first asked about my children hitting me I asked my son on the way home what he thought about it and his response was “normal is what you are used too”. I thought back to a graduate school discussion of philosophy about Foucault and how he defines normal after he finishes defining abnormal.

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” Albert Einstein

It is up to us somewhere, somehow, we as teachers and parents must set an example to the children. Looking at various books such as, Teaching with fire, The Passionate Teacher, The language and thoughts of a child, and I see that surround me as I write, maybe answers are here. The answers are right among us, we are the answer. It is not some big secret. Several times over the past few years I have shared Dr. Nolte’s 1970’s idea of “Children Learn what they live”. I tried to use that with the discussion trying to explain to the teacher asking me about hitting my kids, and that teacher had a difficult time seeing the point.

“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs. Self-conceit often regards it as a sign of weakness to admit that a belief to which we have once committed ourselves is wrong. We get so identified with an idea that it is literally a “pet” notion and we rise to its defense and stop our eyes and ears to anything different.” John Dewey

Looking back historically, Gandhi had a difficult time selling nonviolence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a difficult time selling nonviolence and both were killed for it.

“Man is not logical and his intellectual history is a record of mental reserves and compromises. He hangs on to what he can in his old beliefs even when he is compelled to surrender their logical basis.” John Dewey

As a teacher, the position I am in each day is one of being on a pedestal being watched seen by hundreds of students each day. As a parent seen by my children each day or when they are home from college or work. Each of us is seen and understood in context of perceptions and understandings of that moment. Over the past week while out and about I have seen several students wearing t-shirts that are banned in dress code rules, because of racial over tones. When you ask students why they wear t-shirts that are illegal, answers are always vague and noncommittal never because of race. One of my favorites is “only shirt I had” so you will get kicked out of school for your shirt because it is the only one you had is my general response.


Two events several days ago made my day. The first a simple one, I made the comment I was pissed off at a student for something, another student said “Mr. Bird I never heard you cuss before”. Actually, I do not swear and did not consider pissed off as swearing either, however in that person’s context it was. But the remark they never heard me swear is what caught my attention, I had been setting an example and did not even know it. The other comment came as an email. A remark as to my wisdom, I wrote back that wisdom is fleeting and only momentary, as you teach wisdom is transferred and soon you must learn more to be wiser.

“We must become the change we want to see.” Mahatma Gandhi

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. The time is always right to do what is right.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We are the pathway and the direction and the example for others to see. Never should anyone question hitting another person and try to justify it. Never should a person even in a small way feel doing harm to another in any way is justifiable. As a teacher, parent, or friend go out and show in your life what is, normal. Running parallel through religions worldwide is a rule, a guide, a talisman for some just a thought, treat others as you wish to be treated. It is about Teaching with Fire, teaching with example. Learning what we live and trying to live it and see what impact can be made. Today as we all sit down please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts. Harm is a large word and covers so many be it the passing or illness of a loved one, a friend overseas fighting a war for freedom, a relationship that is abusive, a child too hungry to raise their head, let us be thankful today and try and ease the harm in the world if only one kind act at a time namaste.

My friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

While deadly a spider spins to survive

Bird Droppings November 20, 2020
While deadly a spider spins to survive

“When Peter pulled his sword and attacked the Roman soldier he was told to put it away and his boss turned to the injured soldier and healed his ear but that was before Christianity” Frank Bird Ed.S. D.D.

Every other Facebook post is about election fraud, guns, killing people, Religion, more religion, us, them and so I shared this thought with earlier today with some friends all professing to be devout Christians. Only one saw what I was saying.

“For certain fortunate people, there is something that transcends all classifications of behavior, and that is awareness, something which rises from the programming of the past, and that is spontaneity; and something that is more rewarding than games and that is intimacy. But all of these may be frightening and even perilous to the unprepared. Perhaps they are better off as they are, seeking their solutions in popular techniques of social action, such as ‘togetherness.’ This may mean that there is no hope for the human race, but there is hope for individual members of it.” Dr. Eric Berne, Games People Play, 1964

The title intrigued me as I was sitting here wondering which direction to go in this days writing I was thinking about grandbabies, former students, parents and teachers and how so often the intertwining of personalities produces the fabric of the day. I recall in a graduate class a professor friend used the term or analogy of weaving. Our lives are a tapestry being woven each day as we go. Each thread and line put into place almost in a mundane or routine sort of way yet each relying on the last to complete the whole. I got up a bit early in anticipation of my son, grandson, and granddaughter getting up soon and going to IHOP, I promised my granddaughter we would check out Christmas pancakes.

“Each person designs his own life, freedom gives him the power to carry out his own designs, and power gives the freedom to interfere with the designs of others.” Dr. Eric Berne

For many years I was directly involved in the sheep industry. I was between raising, breeding, writing and publishing about and of course shearing the sheep not all that busy. The end result however of having sheep is handling, bagging and selling the wool. For the publication I put out I traveled nationwide photographing and talking to producers and writing about the sheep and the wool industry. I met many hand spinners and weavers as I traveled. Some were artisans spinning yarn as fine as silk and weaving one of a kind literally pieces of art work. So it was back in the day we had a ewe (a female breeding sheep) a Hampshire cross that was “black” when sheared the fleece was chinchilla gray. For many years a dear friend would get that fleece for her spinning and weaving. Somewhere in a box stored away is a small ball of yarn my oldest son helped spin one afternoon when he was six or so with that fleece and my friend showing and helping him. Life as Dr. Donna Andrews, a professor at Piedmont College commented in class is a weaving. It is an intertwining of events and people. The symbolism of that analogy has stuck with me as I have proceeded far from that class so many days ago.

“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, nothing else. “ Mahatma Gandhi

One of Gandhi’s methodologies of protest was to spin and weave his own cloth rather than rely on industrial and British produced material. Many other intricate thoughts were woven in as well; spinning is for many a form of meditation. The process of weaving, creating and designing a piece is literally a painting of a picture with thread and yarn. In the Navaho culture where the spider is held sacred in its ability to weave and often is copied in the art work of these people weaving is a scared task. The weaving of blankets held a very high position and within each piece the artisan placed a piece of their soul.

“A man’s action is only a picture book of his creed.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, as we weave our tapestry, blanket or simply cloth in life we are seen by the fabric, the pattern, and the methods we use to make that piece.

“When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. “John F. Kennedy

With each progress report we call student’s parents or guardians to discuss issues and grades. I spoke with several over the phone back a week or so ago. I walked through my room after school that day reading a poster that has been hanging around now on my wall where ever I take up for 30 years, Children Learn what they live. While one weaves silk, others weave burlap. Silk has many great attributes as does burlap and the applications and uses vary. To spin hemp into twine and weave the burlap is as much a skill as the artisans who weave the silk threads into cloth. The weaving and material made is not the issue but it is that weaving that is occurring. Applying to human kind it is in that effort that is being made to produce a life.

“Understand clearly that when a great need appears a great use appears also; when there is small need there is small use; it is obvious, then, that full use is made of all things       at all times according to the necessity thereof.” Dogen Kenji, Zen master

Recently I used the word direction and drew criticism from a teacher trying to explain that choosing a direction in a journey and not truly having a destination is sometimes a meaningless effort. For some just going is the norm. I always speak of the journey being more important versus the destination but there is a point to head towards. When building a house first you build walls you determine where doors and windows are needed and add them as you go. A really good builder knows ahead and plans for doors and windows and designed properly a house can have huge windows and great doors and movement in and out occurs continually.
Many years ago I was sitting alongside a fence in a field far away from houses and people I watched a spider spin a web. We see webs all around I was told there are thousands of spiders per acre in any field. Many of the spiders are minute and nearly microscopic. Anyhow the spider climbed to a point and dropped leaving a strand of silk climbed and dropped and so forth building a base for her web. Next came the cross lines and soon a web was built over an hour or so in the process. We see webs and easily sweep them away but the design and care in making is engrained in the spider. Life is a weaving a spinning a web of sorts and yes so often is simply swept away. Occasionally someone will stand back in awe of the artistry if only we would take note every time. Please as we partake of a day only a few off from our day of thanksgiving and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

A look at essential Bird Pedagogy

Bird Droppings November 19, 2020

A look at essential Bird Pedagogy

It was almost nine years ago I was reading an article an interview with Arne Duncan, the former Secretary of Education. Considering the impact COVID 19 has had on high school and college sports these thoughts are interesting. I selected a few choice quotes from his interview to savor and ponder listening to comments from football coaches at a local high school today is a good day to through this out. As I look at the words he said and his follow through with his actions we can see where he really thinks education should be. I have long argued that sports should not be priority number one in high school and in colleges but who am I to challenge the status quo. Football ticket sales and all the hoopla surrounding sports is big money. With Duncan’s emphasis more recently on a push to private industry in public education I found his words a bit confusing. At first, I truly liked this statement and yet since these words were let loose he has gone three hundred and sixty degrees in another direction and supports in actions the making of money.

“If a university can’t have two out of five of their student-athletes graduate, I don’t know why they’re rewarded with post-season play” Arne Duncan

Over the past few days I have been looking at how I see teaching and instruction and I have wandered about a bit in my efforts. My own style is somewhat radical to say the least. However, in nearly fifty years my craziness has worked with kids who are not supposed to graduate or succeed according to most.  I happen to see this line from Arne Duncan our former Secretary of Education and it is amazing how we provide a sense of falsehood through athletics. I am not saying all athletes are poor students by any means. I know many who are honor graduates and scholars in their own right. The greed and competition however at a college level becomes significant. A local college at home games can bring millions to the economy. Many staunch fans never went to college anywhere yet have season tickets and trucks colored in that schools’ colors and even have the same animal as a pet as the local mascot. A good college football or basketball program is a business not a learning program. Six of highest paid state employees across Georgia are coaches.

“I think we are lying to children and families when we tell children that they are meeting standards and, in fact, they are woefully unprepared to be successful in high school and have almost no chance of going to a good university and being successful.’ Arne Duncan

Not every child should be going to college and why we have to advertise and promote this concept I honestly do not know. In a recent faculty meeting our superintendent discussed the excessively high dropout rate of freshmen in college. When you have an attitude of sending everyone to college those who really do not want to be there quit that first year. We have eliminated technical training in many high schools ours included in favor of everyone goes to college. This trend ties in with our role in international education as well. We constantly hear on the news how we are behind in education other international programs and countries. Let me start with one of the measures which is the PISA, The Program for International Student Assessment. In 2006 we the USA were ranked fifteenth. I have never heard of or seen this test administered in Georgia. It is a two-hour test, multiple choice and essay. It is given every three years to rank countries internationally.  Australia is ranked fourth. There are differences between us and them and significant differences. It was 1992 till Australia started inclusion into public schools for disabled students versus 1974 in the US. However, there is still a distinct difference between US and literally most of the world in terms of education. Our test scores for example as per NCLB include Students with Disabilities SWD as a subgroup and they are included in final tally of population. A 2% allowance is made for Mentally Impaired students in the total population. Australia in scoring on High School tests etc. does not include SWD in totals as European and Asian Schools do not include either. Most international school systems have in place a mandatory age cut off 15-17 depending on the territory for example in in Australia. At that point choices are made and or mandated as to higher education technical and or college and or go to work. Throughout Asia this is common practice as it is in many European educational systems.

“If you have great assessments and real-time data for teachers and parents that say these are [the student’s] strengths and weaknesses, that’s a real healthy thing.” Arne Duncan

“We would do away with examinations. They measure the inconsequential type of learning. We would do away with grades and credits for the same reason. We would do away with degrees as a measure of competence partly for the same reason. Another reason is that a degree marks the end or a conclusion of something, and the learner is only interested in continuing the process of learning.” Carl Rodgers

In the words of the two educators above there are totally differing views. I agree with several of my friends that on some concepts Carl Rogers can be a bit off the deep end to a degree. But on this aspect, I agree with him that competition as far as learning goes be that grades, test scores, can be inconsequential as to, is learning occurring. This would lead to another line from David Purpel yesterday that truly hit me hard.

“Schools have been captured by the concept of accountability, which has been transformed from a notion that schools need to be responsive and responsible to community concerns to one in which numbers are used to demonstrate that schools have met their minimal requirement.” David Purpel, 1989, Department of Curriculum and Educational Foundations, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

We have stripped away that aspect of community from schools in order to have a clear cut and definite number to score and equate whatever it is we are wanting to measure in theory. One of the first things I learned in statistics is that they are at the mercy of the statistician. We can make numbers do whatever we want. Politicians like numbers and test scores and simply things so they can make policy and award lobbyists with nice contracts. Interesting how most educational research that is cited by the National Clearing house for research-based materials is primarily one hundred percent publishing and testing company’s research. Much of this is very limited demographically and in a true research situation would not be valid. Significant dollars are involved however but that might be for another discussion, which sort of ties in with my idea of, is there ethical capitalism? Sadly, industrial mentalities and capitalism drive education in US. Mass production testing and text book companies rule along with various support industries.

“I know there are schools that are beating the odds where students are getting better every year, and they are labeled failures, and that can be discouraging and demoralizing,” Arne Duncan

I continue to try and understand how when students are doing better year after year they are a failure. As for US schools being behind are they really? All US schools in all states we are mandated through NCLB to have an exit exam that is within certain parameters for graduation and if not passed student does not receive a high school degree. This consists of Writing, Math, Social Studies, and Science portions in the state of Georgia. Many subjects have End of Course Tests again here in Georgia. Even with this series of tests at our high school we have managed to raise graduation rate at our school from 71% to 92% over a five-year period. Sadly, this comes at the expense of real learning and the idea of teaching to the test is more than a catch word. Teacher’s jobs administrator’s jobs are tied to test scores and funding and state and federal intervention as well. I am not happy with the USA educational system as I am a supporter of students and learning which are totally being left behind in this numerical accountability competitive system.

“We are proceeding on with the intent of the Landmark – Leave No Child Behind Reform Act without political persuasion. The focus is effective delivery of services in education by review, restructure, implementation for maximum student learning.” Arne Duncan

Arne perhaps used some words wrong here. It should have read for maximum student’s success in testing not in learning.

I have taught in different parts of Georgia and in Pa. briefly and while many will say education is not as difficult as in previous generations all I can say is pull a high school or college biology book off the shelf dust it off and compare to a biology book today. The cellular material is years beyond my freshmen college and even zoology and botany books of 1968 and 1969. Not just the research gains but vocabulary and demands of material are voluminous compared to what we had in high school. Our system is flawed and it will take radical thinking I tend to believe more toward Foxfire core practices and John Dewey’s ideas and Carl Rogers because some of his thoughts are good.

“Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person’s ideas, and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets — neither Freud nor research –neither the revelations of God nor man — can take precedence over my own direct experience. My experience is not authoritative because it is infallible. It is the basis of authority because it can always be checked in new primary ways. In this way its frequent error or fallibility is always open to correction.” Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person, 1961

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” Carl Rogers

As I close looking back on where and when and how I am still within my own learning searching for what is my pedagogy. It is a continual fluid moving process as I teach and learn each day. I can say I am inclined to think this way but only till a better way comes along. With a morning nearing end and new week ahead please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Bird Droppings November 23, 2019
Life is raw material

Morning is a special time a beginning I am always questioned why I get up so early. My response is to get a great start to the day. It used to be special as one of the first things was taking the dog out and talking with her as she sniffed the ground hunting bear and other prey and of course doing her thing in the yard. It has been a few years since our Westie passed. I still go to my writing and reading which has become my meditation for the day. Most morning I will smudge lighting some white sage and giving thanks for the day. This has become in many ways a significant part of my day. I walked out this morning and felt the coldness of perhaps our coldest morning this fall. I miss today seeing far off across the field the big dipper rising above the trees and stars crystal clear in the morning darkness waiting to long to get outside.

“Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It’s in our hands.” Cathy Better

My son called last night after he left from a short visit as I was helping him with a paper. While here he informed me of three students who were involved in getting tested for COVID-19. After getting home the number had grown to eight in his one class. He was concerned my wife and I talked with him making sure he was cleaning his room and wearing his mask. I watched an interview with a ICU nurse from the Dakota who had been with a woman who was dying and until her last breath dying from COVID-19 complications did not believe the virus was real. The young woman was in tears as to how politicized this virus has become. A spokesman for the President told people in Michigan to rise up and resist the governors crack down and mask mandate. I am old and have always had issues with allergies. I wear my mask diligently. How can this be an imposition on freedom? How can protecting others and you be an imposition on freedom?

A few years back as I left my classroom after second period, I usually would always go through the guidance office and say hello to several people and on that day one person was missing I noticed and never questioned as the day drew on I sensed an absence yet still had not questioned. As the day ended I heard from over the announcements she had suffered a heart attack during a stress test and was having surgery. My thought raced to how fragile is this thing is we call life. I think back to a photo I found from my old confirmation class at thirteen in Coatesville Pa. How many of the friends in the image have died and are in nursing homes?

“It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them.” Evangeline Cory Booth

“Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flow into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality–not as we expect it to be but as it is–is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.” Frederick Buechner

Last night I sat down thinking and trying to put down words and pictures that may have significance to a project I am working on for my graduate work. It was hard getting to work after eating through most of the day. I emailed several people last night just touching base and downloaded some old wrestling tournament photos from the high school for a friend.

“If, after all, men cannot always make history have meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.” Albert Camus

“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Thomas Carlyle

As I moved through that day a from a few years back a sensing something was amiss and even after knowing it is difficult to offer from a distance any sort of comfort. Most people as the day finished never missed a stride there were a few tears from friends and those that knew but all in all the day went on.

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot

I have used this quote several times and each time it seems appropriate. I remember as a child chasing fireflies across a meadow gathering those life forces in a jar to light my room and then releasing into the night watching them float away in the darkness.

“It’s not how long life is but the quality of our life that is important.” Roger Dawson

“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.” Charles Dickens

In 1996 my brother passed away and my family was faced with a new beginning. We all had literally built our lives around my brother. He was severely disabled and our being in Georgia was directly related to him. As we celebrated his life reviewing the intricate webs that were laid each moment and people touched and lives affected what seemingly had been was now an enormous out pouring of life.

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really merely commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the planning, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, working through generations and leading to the most outer results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

We each approach the morning in a different way. I embrace the day and begin with my writing seeing each moment then unfold. Since 1996 I have taken many different roads and journeys and as I look back each has had meaning and direction and lead me to the now.

“Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

It has been several years now since I received a call from my nephew that a friend had been in a car accident and as the time proceeded I spent the night in the Athens Hospital holding a young man’s hand as monitors beeped and droned and he lay unmoving. I was hoping that the numbers on the dials would change but that was not to be. When I arrived home on my computer was the above quote from an Aerosmith song. Seems I come back to that note often in my writings. In 1968 as I left for Texas for college I received a book from my parents, it was a bible which still sits in my bedroom and on page 596 a verse that has stuck with me.

“To everything there is season, and a time, To every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Many years ago, Pete Seeger a folk singer legend and environmentalist wrote music for the words and a song was born “Turn, Turn, Turn”. To every season turn, turn, turn there is a reason turn, turn, turn and a time for every purpose under heaven. The song became a hit sung by a group called the Byrd’s coincidently.

“Nothing is beneath you if it is in the direction of your life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” Robert Frost

So often a poet’s words offer comfort or give direction back to a journey set off course in but one moment’s time. There is no filling of a void yet when looking at life and all that has been, when looking at the journey to now there truly is no void. There is a turn in the road a new direction all that has led to this point has not changed and is there behind us, lifting us, guiding us, and strengthening us as we continue. I remember back to a photo of my son crossing a stream in north Georgia already sopping wet from falling in but still intent on making it across stone by stone, crossing the stream on the rocks as he jumped.


We all can cross in our time and there are times when a hand is welcome. Years ago, I set up a website for a youth group and today I will close with the starting line from that website “Friends are never alone”. Keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and today keep those friends who may need extra support close at hand namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

At least trying to think this beautiful day

Bird Droppings November 17, 2020
At least trying to think this beautiful day

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Joseph Campbell

I wonder if it is for attention that so many teenagers seek the route of drama in their lives. Over reacting to seemingly inconsequential stimulus seems to be a matter of fact in the teenage world. Is it hormones and assorted emotional lapses that drive the various levels of human kind? I often wonder at why we do what we do. I observe and listen and find myself all too often swept into turbulence that is difficult to raise one’s head above. Back in the spring I was called to talk to a student before the Covid break. Her head was in her hands sobbing and she had asked for me. The story from a few days before had grown and found its way to school. I had heard bits and pieces floating around school in the days before. On another topic a young man in my own classes asked me if he had been good and would I write a letter for his probation officer. A week ago, I separated him from another fellow just before a fight.

“Absolutely speaking, do unto others as you would that they should do unto you is by no means a golden rule, but the best of current silver. An honest man would have but little occasion for it. It is golden not to have any rule at all in such a case.” Henry David Thoreau

I wonder at times do our worlds of reality intertwine, or is this some great Venn diagram and only occasionally do the edges overlap. Is part of reality A and part of B touching here and reality C and D barely touch over there? I wonder if it is for attention. I watched a girl walk down the hall staring straight ahead obviously depressed. How do you get depressed at 16? What in our water drives a teenager to depression? Earlier I went out briefly my head today feels like a sponge. It was hard getting up I forgot to take my allergy medicine last night and the gas heat really tears up my sinuses. But as I walked and stood looking as our dog ran around the yard searching for prey and also trying to find a dry spot in the wet grass to do his duty I could not help but think. I wonder about dogs they look for a dry spot to make wet. It actually might be logical perhaps in dog thinking. But as I looked about the air seemed to resonate my own mood foggy and the weather channel had issued fog warnings for our county.

I could see stars yet the trees only a few feet away were clouded over. One in particular was literally in a mist as I looked. At 6:30 in the morning much is a mist but this tree was unclear as the others about it were fine. My own perception was a bit foggy today and actually I did go lay down again after getting up a with a severe sinus headache. But as I lay back down I thought of seeing pieces clear and others shrouded in mist. Some were unclear and indistinct while others were plain as day. I will come back to students and kids at school perhaps there is a difference. On one hand there are students, those who learn and kids, those ones who are taking up air and space and or baby goats, sarcastically.

But as I thought perhaps it is knowing that clears one’s self, one’s own self-image is clearer when you know yourself. In so many of the Eastern religions and philosophies there is a focus on “know thy self”. Here is a thought from one cloudy mind today to numerous cloudy minds at 4:00 in the morning. Maybe it is like my tree so many people are unclear because they do not know who they are. In their searching and journeying in life they never have a clear pathway always seems to be rubble blocking the way, be it relationships, family, “friends” and for some perhaps a disability or imperfection that in their eyes holds them back or cause them to stumble. Very easily it could create an unclear vision of who they are.

I went back out and as my head cleared the tree that had been blurry cleared up and I was able to see it fine. When we meet people even ones with drama and unclear at the time views if we focus, if we give ourselves a moment to recompose often we can see through the fog and see the real person even if that person is unsure and then we can offer a hand to help them come back. It could be sort of a tug into the Venn diagram perhaps. It might be M&M’s or a paper towel, or just a word or thought and it amazes me at times to see some things so simple can change a life. Sometimes it is just coming when called or needed. I wish we had “clear life”, something bottled you could spray out and all would be fine sort of like the commercials with the red eyes and one drop and they are clear. Peace my friends and please when opportunity is there offering a hand for far too many people are stuck in the fog of their own lives. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts as we go into this holiday in a day or two and be sure to always give thanks namaste.

My friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird