Today is day one or so I am told

Bird Droppings November 9, 2018
Today is day one or so I am told

 

Feeling old today now that I working on my seventieth year and a cold front coming in, my bones are aching. I remember nearly twelve years ago as we got closer to the last day in our old house it was actually appropriately to be the last day of the month. Sitting here in my writing nook thinking back too early in the morning it is a new day a glorious day and who knows what this day holds. I wonder each day as I start who I will meet, talk with and what new ideas may come around. Being accustom to early rising I am sitting here at my computer typing away getting thoughts down, organizing notes and a semblance of preparing for an interview later today. It is a good day a sixty percent chance of rain and or a forty percent chance of sun. I like the weather reports on the news they are always so vague and always covering every angle neither cloud nor sun for sure but possibility of either. I found this thought today as I sit and ponder.

 

“Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay.” Matthew Flickstein, Journey To The Center

 

When I saw this I thought of a dear friend who passed away what seems decades ago today and was only a few years. A teenager who I would have never suspected had a feeling for Robert Frost. So for those of you who knew him, a special word for Travis, a special someone who could light up a room and generally get someone mad at the same time.

 

Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Robert Frost
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

 

When I went to the funeral of Travis and heard this poem read. This was his favorite poem. I had to think, I had to ponder and for myself I could not have remembered that verse though I am sure I read it somewhere in my wanderings. Travis was not a scholar and I do not mean that in a bad way he was quite the opposite so to say. Yet this verse was of significance to him, he carried it with him on a piece of paper in his wallet. Earlier today I wrote, responding to an email, about doing right and or doing good.

 

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.” Mother Teresa

 

A friend from Ohio sent me this quote and paraphrased if you are an atheist cover your ears, well actually your eyes unless someone is reading this to you. An atheist friend responded with. “All atheists have to do is substitute another word (like ‘conscience’) or thought for ‘God’ in the final sentence, and it works just as well. Or better, eliminate the final sentence, and it works even better, since the reader must come up with his own justification for doing the right thing.” As I think back to Travis, I honestly do not think he intentionally did wrong ever. Everything he did do, while annoying at times, loud at times, was joyful. It was often funny as I sit here, that was the word that popped in my mind, joyful.

I agree with that great philosopher and guru of gurus a dear friend from the Philadelphia area Dlog Nala, that leaving out the last sentence changes the passage a bit. So often in life we need excuses to do something even though it is right, what is in it for me that extrinsic motivation that drives mankind. Even in this analogy of doing for God there is a reason for doing good, rather than simply because it is right. While I am reminiscing going back many years to an argument in seminary. I was always intrigued how the mafia Godfather, on his death bed would have last rites and absolution even though he had murdered many people and pillaged the city through crime. I listened to many messages of salvation from sin.

I had a professor and an entire discussion group tell me how upset they were over the fact that this group of people we had just worked with, were going to hell because they could not accept their way of believing. The particular unit was a severe and profoundly disabled unit at Central state hospital back in the days of institutions, a large complex of buildings and humanity in Central Georgia in the early 1970’s. Many of the patients in this unit were bedridden and connected to feeding tubes, literally comatose. They were turned every hour or so to prevent bed sores. I always thought it was interesting that these folks in that unit were lost and the mafia godfather was not. The science of theology has a way of doing that.

It has been a number of years since another friend and I walked five miles every day discussing life and theology. Many the talks as we walked, of where and when and how and many of Travis and his impact on our own lives. I am amazed at how a sixteen year old could affect so many people.

 

“Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay.” Matthew Flickstein, Journey To The Center

 

We tend to get greedy when we have a good thing and never want to let go of it. I have been writing each morning for nearly fourteen years and on that morning, after holding Travis’s hand for most of the night a story I have told so many times. I had been watching monitors go the direction I was hoping they would not. The doctor said it was up to the family they would harvest organs when given permission. Travis was an organ donor, it was his wish and he even talked about it often. I went to my own home, after we had taken all the high school friends of Travis back after a night in the hospital. I sat down at my computer and I have related this so many times previously. There affixed to the monitor a yellow post-it note from my son.

 

“Dad” it was addressed to me. “Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

 

It was funny how it took my teenager, at that time, son to give me perspective. I learned more in that moment than I had in many years of discussion and classes. We all are on a journey each of us wandering often far from the path. My son now a teacher of science and I really do not think he knows how much he taught his old man in one line. Some of us never step out of the way from their travels. For many people it is always a straight and narrow pathway. However some of us choose to go down this side road and up that path. It is the journey we are on that is so important and it is on that journey we need to borrow from Mother Theresa and do what is right, do it anyway. Sitting here my computer alarm went off time to get busy. As I was reading the news on Yahoo a few minutes back, maybe a change in how we view our world situation is in the horizon coming up. I would hope so; life is so precious it is not a commodity like so much of our economy. We are not human capital as so many politicians and even educators would like to think. So as always for today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

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

 

 

Gratitude is an action

Bird Droppings November 4, 2017
Gratitude is an action

 

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

Chief Seattle, 1854

 

Most mornings I am getting up about four thirty or so in the morning just habit and my wife goes to work early, but as we get close to Veterans Day this idea of thanks hit me. So it is eight thirty or so in the morning and I am sitting, writing. I by chance got a photo of a brilliant red maple tree shining in the rising sun a few days ago. I hope to be lucky now that daylight savings time goes in effect tonight, and in effect sunrise will be later in morning and I can start to walk outside and enjoy the sunrises after breakfast. It is a powerful time of day as the sunrise appears it is though you can watch and listen to the awakening of everything. When I was at school I would stand facing east to take in the full effect of the sunrise cars and business sounds humming and popping around me can some time distract. So for today to be able to enjoy and listen to the world awake will be nice.

It has been a few days since I was photographing and literally drove nearly sixty miles around the area looking for images of the sun coming up at one point a lone bird started chirping and soon another and within minutes I was visually and auditory committed to a new day. On this day of thanks to our veterans I am not only thankful but offer it is with sincere gratitude that I sit here writing today. To friends, family and those I do know who have served our country thank you from my heart.

 

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Meister Eckhart

 

It is only a few weeks ahead that as I will be waking up the morning after, while most folks will be still asleep, it seems that turkey has that effect on people here around the holidays. With the Thanksgiving holiday near I was thinking about gratitude. When I saw Eckhart’s quote about a month ago my first thought was to use it on Thanksgiving Day. But I really think it goes beyond a single day of giving thanks.

 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

 

“Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.” Northrup Christine

 

Being grateful opens doors and allows people in. We live in such a protectionist society and reality. We are always trying to protect our own area of influence and self. However gratefulness can lift you up and take you beyond where you are now to another level.

 

“Gratitude is the heart’s memory.” French Proverb

 

“It is another’s fault if he is ungrateful, but it is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man, I will oblige a great many that are not so.” Seneca

 

Gratitude requires giving and in giving we are also offering of ourselves and building up within ourselves.

 

“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.” Ethel Percy Andrus

 

“It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.” Richard Braustein

 

Life is about giving, sometimes what you offer to others is simply how and where you are placed in life and many times that provides the vehicle for your journey deeper and through life and offers direction for others.

 

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” Flora Edwards

 

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran

 

So often we think of giving as money or food, but in reality giving of oneself that is the hardest and the most rewarding. I recall listening to war stories my father would tell. These would be heart wrenching stories of World War II and his own journey in life. I have read many books and heard others tell of their service and time serving our country. It is in caring about people and sharing through offering of one’s life that is much harder than simply providing a dollar or a can, the gratitude comes back within and through our hearts.

 

“He who obtains has little. He who scatters has much.” Lao Tzu

 

“A handful of pine-seed will cover mountains with the green majesty of forests. I too will set my face to the wind and throw my handful of seed on high.” Fiona Macleod

 

As I am pondering the words from The Art of War, written thousands of years ago and from another more recent Scottish author and writer William Sharp who wrote for a number of years as Fiona McCleod I am think of so many friends who in serving died. As I think of the warriors who have given their all at times in controversy and often only because they believed they were doing what is right. It is the memories and pain we carry that gives us hope. When forester’s timber areas, often they will leave several healthy older trees to seed the remaining land. I have been in areas where clear cutting save for a few tree, has occurred and several years later a new forest has begun. But it is so important to plant seeds and to scatter them as to be a friend and to let friendships grow. When I can I do tell the stories told by my father and I do recall and tell of my friends exploits. I tell stories of warriors of old who fought and die for what they believed fighting for families and country. I give thanks each day as I walk and greet the sun.

 

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

 

“The more credit you give away, the more will come back to you. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you.” Brian Tracy

 

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton

 

I remember a candlelight service so many years ago, one person carefully started with a lit candle and handed their light to another’s candle and each in turn went through the room lighting another’s and soon the room was filled with light. We are much like a candle light service if we share our light and love, and pass it on to the person next to you. It is to say thank you when you receive from another and offer always to another. I will end with a simple thought and prayer for a day of honoring all warriors past, present and future.

 

“When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” White Elk

 

So often life hands us unexpected surprises, gratitude extends and magnifies those times. Please as we get into this coming holiday season keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

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

 

While deadly, a spider spins to survive

Bird Droppings November 7, 2018
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.

With every other Facebook post or TV narrative about elections, politics, guns, caravans, killing people, religion, more religion, us, them and so I shared this thought with some high school students one day all professing to be devout Christians. Only one saw what I was saying. Jesus and many of his followers were Jews. Christianity was many years later.

“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 5:00 AM wondering which direction to go in this morning’s writing I was thinking about grandbabies, students, parents and teachers and how so often the intertwining of personalities produce 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 to check election results. While disappointed in some ways I was impressed by numbers on both sides that turned out. Sadly we think of politics as sides rather than differing opinions.

 

“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

 

 

 

 

I am still trying to figure out teaching

Bird Droppings November 6, 2018
I am still trying to figure out teaching

 

The names are withheld, to protect the innocent, except on my Facebook page. A few years back I received this note. “Good morning Mr. Bird , I would like to thank you for being a great teacher, my son John Doe speaks highly of you, John has grown up to be hard working, an excellent dad, and a loving caring husband. Thank you so much for all the work you do.” John Doe’s mother

 

For almost sixteen years of teaching high school I tell the story of the worse kid in class or so I was told John Doe. He did nothing comes in puts his head down goes to sleep or gets kicked out of school. Well John Doe lived up to expectations as the first few days went by. I was getting my feet wet and decided to talk about poetry one day. I brought in Shel Silverstein, Edgar Allan Poe and Dylan Thomas. I read a few poems from each ending with Dylan Thomas. As soon as I finished reading the last poem from Dylan Thomas this student who had not raised his head from a desk yet asked, who was this guy which I read from? Next thing I know he asked to borrow the book. Monday came around and he came in beaming telling me he was dyslexic and read the whole book or when his eyes quit on him his mother read. This fellow and several others and I went on to quite a few exploits declaring our trailer independent from school and issuing Mr. Bird Bucks. I just reconnected with him and his mother after fifteen years with this note on Facebook this morning, thank you.

 

“I want to say one other challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of     people who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a great revolution. President Kennedy said on one occasion, ‘Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.’ The world must hear this. I pray to God that America will hear this before it is too late, because today we’re fighting a war.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

When I saw this quote earlier today it reminded me that wanting to in any endeavor is a powerful force. A few days back in an email a friend asked about the idea of wanting to teach and maybe I should write about that. I am working on a paper while not on that subject it is about the art of learning, how teaching is improvisional art and how we take away from kids that drive, that wanting to. I taught in public school system sixteen years and as a parent and grandparent being involved for over thirty five years or more in public schools. I have seen many teachers who do not want to be teaching. For whatever reason they are there and how they impact kids is directly related to their lack of motivation for being a teacher far too many times.

 

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

 

I was subbing during my planning period a few years back and ran into a paradox. On the wall a sign stating you earn respect and yet the teacher I was subbing for demanded respect from students. Several students had mentioned to me that fact about this teacher. Granted third party conversation, especially from students is not always the best. However I know many teachers who walk in a room and demand respect. They think in being a teacher students should bow down and worship the ground they stand on. Granted in some cultures teachers are revered and automatically held in high esteem. However a teacher in that particular culture also has a different view of their teaching. When respect is demanded many students take offense and immediately back away. Some students as in the situation with one of the students becoming antagonistic, he was fighting back and arguing against demand. So how do we then inspire daily and weekly and monthly and for a lifetime as Ward states.

 

“Teacher’s Prayer: I want to teach my students how to live this life on Earth, to face    its struggles and its strife and to improve their worth. Not just the lesson in a book   or how the rivers flow, But how to choose the proper path wherever they may go. To understand eternal truth and know the right from wrong, and gather all the beauty     of a flower and a song. For if I help the world to grow in wisdom and in grace, and then I shall feel that I have won and I have filled my place. . That I may do my part. For character and confidence and happiness of heart.” James J. Metcalf

 

I want to teach, a simple statement but a basis for all that then transpires in a classroom. Over the years I have read many books on education, learning and on teaching. One that has always been a good read and reread is The Passionate teacher by Robert Fried. There is a need for passion in teaching.

 

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” Carl Jung

 

“Compassionate teachers fill a void left by working parents who aren’t able to devote enough attention to their children. Teachers don’t just teach; they can be vital personalities who help young people to mature, to understand the world and to understand themselves. A good education consists of much more than useful facts     and marketable skills.” Charles Platt

 

Many disagree with my philosophy of teaching and walk by on the other side of the hallway so as to not be infected. I recall many years ago one teacher who would go an extra hall over to avoid coming by my room. Granted there have been snakes and spiders and loud kids, maybe they are afraid of snakes. I often wonder why some people become teachers. Obviously it is a paying job, with relatively good benefits. Some teachers will say they were called it is almost a sacred mission for them. But those few who simple could not find anything else or thought they wanted to teach maybe should wander away to another field. I know of several teachers simply waiting to retire and collect their teacher retirement. I wonder is it a sacred mission?

 

“The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad… Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves and murderers of the future. Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day, lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow.” Ivan Welton Fitzwater

 

“There’s no word in the language I revere more than ‘teacher.’ My heart sings when a kid refers to me as his teacher, and it always has. I’ve honored myself and the entire family of man by becoming a teacher.” Pat Conroy, Prince of Tides

 

“If you plan for a year, plant a seed. If for ten years, plant a tree. If for a hundred years, teach the people. When you sow a seed once, you will reap a single harvest. When you teach the people, you will reap a hundred harvests.” Kuan Chung

 

Such a powerful tool is teaching for the betterment and or the fall of mankind. As I look at how we decide who teaches and who does not, and how we train teachers I wonder. Are we training for a hundred years or next year? Looking at government’s involvement it is short term. I find it interesting how in eastern thought so often it is beyond the now. Nearby in local community is the Church of the Now sort of paradoxical. We focus so much on short term goals and efforts. Reach this score now and or suffer the consequences. When independent data is finally compiled I think we will find NCLB, No Child Left Behind has left significant numbers behind. A great teacher here and there might change some of this. We need to change legislation, views about education, and views about learning.

 

“There is an old saying that the course of civilization is a race between catastrophe and education. In a democracy such as ours, we must make sure that education wins the race.” John F. Kennedy

 

Right now education is falling behind as we spend billions fighting literally wars everywhere. I often find it interesting that John Kennedy wanted to pull out of Viet Nam, and Lyndon Johnson wanted to stay and continue. After Kennedy’s assassination Johnson did continue the war for a number of years and many deaths of Americans over 70,000. Several of whom would have made great teachers I knew them personally. In wanting to be a teacher, wanting to end a war, wanting to be a good parent, or wanting to be a friend, each requires of us to put in an effort. It takes an effort to be a great teacher, end a war, be a good parent, and be a good friend. It is how much beyond is where the wanting to fits in. You will know when you get there. It is a new day and I have many more pages to write and a much to do before heading to Macon Georgia tomorrow. I hope each of you as you prepare for the holiday coming has a joyous and glorious day. Please 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

 

Teaching is always climbing up another rung

Bird Droppings November 8, 2018

Teaching is always climbing up another rung

 

I had a great night sleep. I was planning on writing this morning. I have an IEP observation to write up for tomorrow and a preproscectus for my dissertation I would like to have competed by the end of the week. I have been unseasonal relaxed with seasonal allergies till this morning y sinus issue. It has been a bit since the smoke from North Georgia wiped me out around this time two years back. Our house is heated with gas and the dry heat does me in every year although only have turned on twice so far we went back to AC when temps went up again. Combine that with turning sixty nine and pondering what to do next with my life and makes for interesting mornings.

 

I have to complete and things I need to attend to and seem to put off always waiting on tomorrow. I have a book idea to send into a publisher, a good friend suggested idea to publisher and they contacted me. Two years ago I was trying to survive a class of kids where several had no intent of making it to graduation and would spend a day or two with us and then are be in school suspension and or out of school suspension and or don’t come at all. Years ago I would have spent time looking why. Now I am content to watch them fall off the face of the earth. You have to pick your battles with limited resources physically, emotionally, and mentally. I think that was a reason I sought retirement with the drain of apathy among high school kids today.

 

Thanksgiving break is in two weeks and a large portion of my dissertation. Even with my aversion to shopping I will be going out with my wife to brave the masses of the malls and finish up the holiday shopping while toting a ton of gifts to be all too soon. I am looking forward to the holidays while grandkids are out from school for nearly two weeks. I am looking forward to spending time with friends and family. We have multiple Christmas’ going around the south visiting South Georgia and North Carolina. I am seriously looking forward to sitting down and doing some writing and some serious holiday eating and cooking.

 

I am finishing up my meditation and writing this morning after an evening filled with sitting watching TV with my oldest son. This morning I started the day reading old posts from friends to a fellow teacher and family friend whose husband was killed in an automobile accident eight years ago. It is a difficult time of year for families to deal with a loss but as I read through hundreds of posts and support from friends literally all over some even returning home for the holidays to be with their friends in this time of sorrow and joy. Some days I am disappointed in the human spirit but this is not one of those days.

 

“One only gets to the top rung of the ladder by steadily climbing up one at a time, and suddenly all sorts of powers, all sorts of abilities which you thought never belonged to you–suddenly become within your own possibility and you think, ‘Well, I’ll have a go, too.’” Margaret Thatcher

 

The first woman Prime Minister of Great Britain was in her time the most powerful woman in the world. It is her philosophy of success that she discusses here and is simple, one step, one rung, one at a time to the top. So many folks want to jump from the ground to the top and forget there is so much in between. Seldom do you here negative comments about Prime Minister Thatcher of her time in office and the great dignity and poise she brought at a difficult time in our world’s history.

 

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it’s the same problem you had last year.” John Foster Dulles

 

One of the major ways that we as humans learn is through trial and error. However true success is not repeating the error again and again but doing anew and that is when we are succeeding.

 

“What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.” Benjamin F. Fairless

 

As I read this note and the four simple rules or ingredients to success I was amazed at the simplicity. First love what you do, and then give it your best, thirdly seize opportunities, and finally teamwork and success can be yours. As I walk through the doors of a school and look at teachers so often you can tell good teachers by who is smiling, a sure sign that they want to be there. For these teachers it is not just a job they love what they do and do give the job their best. In no other field have I ever seen people seize opportunity such as in teaching. When paper is allocated or budget cuts restrict supplies you learn quickly to be resourceful and work with others it is so much easier to accomplish then working independently.

 

“Success is that old A B C; ability, breaks, and courage.” Charles Luckman

 

We acquire ability through learning and effort and taking advantage of breaks that come along and keeping your eyes open and always being ready. Courage is that character aspect of us that is that inner drive that can lead a person upward.

 

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.” Colin Powell

 

As he lead US forces back a few years and then as Secretary of State Colin Powell has simply put it all in order as far as life goes, in order to find success you must prepare do your homework. Then you do the work and get it done and finally learn from your errors, from your mistakes and use them to succeed. As I read this afternoon between cleaning and shopping I found a thought I would like to end with.

 

“It is more important to be of service than successful.” Robert Kennedy Jr.     

 

For many people the idea of success is a selfish thing, but finding true success is when what you do is affecting others positively. As I think back to so many who are taking time today and yesterday to help with the pain of losing a loved one and so many others pieces of life’s puzzle let us all take heed of our time we have. Today in this coming holiday please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.

 

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

I still like the seagull book

Bird Droppings November 3, 2018
I still like the seagull book

 

Once upon a time, that line has started so many stories in my day that perhaps it would be a good way to start today. Many years ago as I drove my kids to school each morning I would spin yarns of various Indian tribes and of great grandpa Niper. Some were stories told to me by my father and now being passed down to my children and soon to grandchildren. My youngest son would offer one of his lines, back in the day which has been one of his favorite sayings relating to anything past his own recollection. However many years ago before the idea of “New Age”, back when such books were often considered simply whimsical, a former test pilot and fighter pilot wrote a short book entitled Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Richard Bach’s book was an easy read, a one sitting sort of book that was actually for several years back in the 1970’s was a best seller. As I look back maybe in my own naiveté of the day maybe he opened the door for the many “new age” writers to come out of the wood work so too say. I recommend his book, and if you have not read it previously, try and borrow a copy or buy one and read it. It is a fun read and relaxing. A bit of advertising, Amazon has it discounted to five or six dollars; it is a simple story about a seagull who wants more than diving at fish.

 

“Argue for your limitations and sure enough they’re yours.” Richard Bach from Jonathan Livingston Seagull

 

As I read this quote for the first time in many years I found it related very much too several current situations in our society, nation and me personally. We so often tend to limit ourselves by standards imposed or self- imposed by others and or work, school, church or society. I have watched friends argue for their limitations and guess what that is where they end up. Rather than always reaching higher people get so caught up in their own limitations they flounder and wither away. In the book the lead character Jonathan Livingston Seagull reaches for the sky and eventually he gets it.

 

“The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.” Richard Bach from One

 

As much as I will complain about something more often than not it is not because I do not like doing it but it is about fitting into my supposedly rock solid schedule. I recently spent a few hours learning a new software program formatting videos for a friend, layout, graphics, formatting and using still photos to animate into a video. While on one hand it was a pain it gave me ideas for my teaching as well. It gave me practice at something I had not done in a few years and I got to use my creativity and imagination, it was not work. As I looked through several books from Richard Bach, ideas and thoughts and several good quotes but as I looked at this particular one for some of you younger folks maybe it is not significant, but for old timers like me it really makes sense:

 

“The simplest questions are the most profound.
Where were you born?
Where is your home?
Where are you going?
What are you doing?
Think about these once in a while and watch your answers change.”
Richard Bach from One

 

As I sit this morning, reflecting back on an era that spawned JLS and in reality raised the question about which we were and why that “newagers” still are working on. Maybe the answers were there all along and marketing ploys and skeptics have kept the ball rolling either downhill or up depending on your view. I think Bach raised a question about our spiritual side, for so many years the word spiritual meant a specific church or religion and Bach opened a door that later writers would access, direct and guide. Bach’s characters were fictitious, a thinking talking seagull and more recently his books are based on ferrets. Reading JLS you are first reading a story of a seagull searching for more to life, then you reflect and on second reading and see aspects that may or may not correspond to your own existence, and then you see a spiritual side.

 

“We are each given a block of marble when we begin a lifetime and the tools to shape it into sculpture… We can drag it behind us untouched, we can pound it into gravel, and we can shape it into glory.” Richard Bach from Illusions

 

I once read Michangelo could see his art work in the marble before he would chisel his masterpieces. It was for him a work of art waiting to be exposed. As I look back over Bach and his writings I think he too was trying to show us, each of us. There are artworks in side waiting to be exposed waiting for the self-imposed limitations to be lifted waiting for the procrastination to be gone.

 

“We generate our own environment. We get exactly what we deserve. How can we resent the life we’ve created for ourselves? Who’s to blame, who’s to credit, but us? Who can change it, any time we wish, but us?” Richard Bach from Illusions

 

Maybe a few will search out and read a few lines or get on the internet and look up this writer who may have opened a door years ago who for some and is little more than a fancy but I will end with one final Bach quote.

 

“Any powerful idea is absolutely fascinating and absolutely useless until we choose to use it.” Richard Bach from Illusions

 

In my reading today I found this one thought sort of wandering through my whimsical ideas today. With all that is going on in the world it could be we need to refind that innocence of childhood and then maybe we can resolve our issues. Nearly every day, information we have been lead to believe is refuted and each day a new explanation is given by our “adults” in charge. Negative feelings held deep inside and manifesting in our government and actions worldwide, a sad state we are in.

 

“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don’t usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Imagine All The People

 

So reflect, ponder, dream and use your ideas to grow trees from the seeds not just allow those seeds to mold. Raise your expectations and exceed them and above all until our friends and family members are home and safe, keep all in harm’s way in your heart and on your mind and always give thanks namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

Can we think about compassion in today’s world?

Bird Dropping November 1, 2018
Can we think about compassion in today’s world?

 

I am sitting here looking out my window next to my computer into a dark world. My dear friends and those of you not so dear please consider this thought. We are in a turbulent time. A hurricane of politics and it is that politics not reality. Forces driving friends apart and creating rifts in families’. I am saddened by how dark our world has become. This little light of mine I am going to let it shine just popped in my head.

 

“We are only human, and the demands of life make a raucous noise. But we must not let those demands drown out the quieter voices of the spirit. We must take time to stop and listen, knowing that the voice of the spirit speaks more often in a whisper than in a shout.” Kent Nerburn, Ordinary Sacred

 

Almost eight years ago I was quietly sitting in a hotel room in South Carolina it was still dark outside and it was odd not being at school on a Friday. I would so seldom miss a day of school. My middle son and his wife had moved from SC to NC and we were going to help them get settled in and unpack. This trip was the only time we went north to get to their house but it was worth it the mountains were getting their color on and it was beautiful. I got thinking that in Georgia at least in our county we have not gone the route of year round school and have a few extra weeks of breaks scattered around. I actually think I came back to teaching from industry for the summers off. Really I missed teaching and I still enjoy it even with all the hassles. As I think about it does seem like we have vacations all the time, summer break, fall break, Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break, intercessions, National Holidays and even a few days of personal time if needed.

I need to be doing a lot of gardening around the house as well as my obsession with my herb garden which includes a lot of time sitting looking at and thinking about what I did that day, reflection to borrow from John Dewey. It is in reflection we find answers and often new questions. Sitting here this morning I was reading about the aftermath of numerous hurricanes, fires and other national disasters and the word compassion struck me. In various discussions in graduate school and with friends and former faculty members at my old school the word compassion has been used in describing and even in defining a good teacher.

 

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Albert Einstein

 

Thinking to myself as I read again this quote by Albert Einstein and to a night or two ago as I walked about my back yard later one evening there is a sense of being a part of all that is. A few nights back I was outside after dark and by chance had our Huskie with me and went into our front yard. My wife was due home and the dog wanted to run in circles as I had him on a lead when an owl started in calling. Within a second or two another was calling several hundred yards further down and at first I thought the bird had simply moved. Shortly thereafter a third bird joined in a sort of dueling owls as it was. I had not heard three at one time before each distinct and separate, as several times they were over lapping in their calls and each was several hundred yards apart calling in the darkness. It truly does give a sense of being a part of rather than the central focus of our world.

 

“Compassion is the basis of morality.” Albert Schopenhauer

 

I wonder as I am sitting here what is compassion. The great philosopher Schopenhauer who became the guide for many of later philosophers going into the twentieth century and he saw compassion as basis for morality. The doing or not doing, of what is right or wrong is compassion perhaps? The Dalai Lama who is the spiritual leader for Tibetan Buddhists, approaches compassion in a similar yet slightly different view, compassion is to be lived and practiced.

 

“If you want others to be happy, you practice compassion. If you want to be happy, you practice compassion.” Dalai Lama

 

In the world of today so often compassion is overlooked as an attribute. A person who is compassionate is considered soft and weak and not up to the toughness needed in today’s society of ruthlessness and profit. I go back a day or two to a thought from one of Ken Nerburn’s books on Native American spirituality and of handshakes being soft or hard. I was reviewing a curriculum format yesterday and what was amusing it was not a curriculum but a way or method of viewing education more so. The program was about looking at the wellbeing of the entire person or child. Dr. Comer a psychiatrist developed the idea in the late 1960’s, he was probably a hippie. The concept is that we need to address the entire child, psychologically, physically, emotionally and cognitively in education. A rather broad view of how we should be teaching and or educating children. I was thinking about Dr. Comer’s dream as I found this quote.

 

“I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

It is through compassion that we see others as a part of the whole and not just separate people. It is through compassion we go beyond the curriculum maps and guides and paperwork. It is through compassion that we care and want to do more for others. Over the years I have always been impressed when reading from Thomas Aquinas and today I found a piece that is a defining piece of the idea of compassion.

 

“I would rather feel compassion than know the meaning of it.” Thomas Aquinas

 

Far too often we want to be simply on the receiving end of compassion but it is in the doing that compassion is found. As I think to my monastic moments in recent days as everyone else at the house has been working and I am home tending my garden and reading, writing, and pondering. I find solace in solitude almost as much as in talking with friends at the store which happens quite a bit as I wander about Quick Trip, Kroger, the hardware store and or Barnes and Noble, my favorite store.

 

“It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them…. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.” Thomas Merton

 

I have for many years enjoyed the writings of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk who was against war and died in a Saigon Hotel protesting the Viet Nam war back in the late 1960’s when protesting the war was not a good thing according to most societal models. Merton was allowed a certain freedom in his views often not permitted within the Catholic Church. He believed and wrote what he believed and many today think he dies for those beliefs. According to local law enforcement he died of an accidental electrocution in his hotel room.

 

“No matter how you seem to fatten on a crime, there can never be good for the bee which is bad for the hive.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

To end today’s reflection a word or two from one of my favorites, Ralph Waldo Emerson. It took several readings to catch the meaning of this passage. We are social creatures and it is about the whole that compassion is truly about. Much like Emerson’s bee, if we are too good to ourselves the hive will suffer. As I look at teaching is this not true as well. Far too often a teacher becomes absorbed in their own little world of a classroom and their needs and their goals, and the students the children suffer. There is so much to think about and ponder on for today as I continue my journey in life and in teaching. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird