Should we sharpen the machete or bring a shovel?

Bird Droppings April 29 & 30, 2022
Should we sharpen the machete or bring a shovel?

I have been reflecting over the concept of critical pedagogy and in that reflection, I recall an incident nearly forty years ago that calls to mind my own interpretation and understanding of what we as teachers are all about. I purchased a book in 1973 or so that was about a method of teaching that for me was what teaching was all about. The book was the Foxfire 2 book, a collection of mountain lore and life. The editor was a man who went into North Georgia to teach English and ended up creating a teaching method or I should say edited a teaching concept in that much of what he developed was previously suggested and implemented with John Dewey.

Elliott Wigginton started in 1966 a way of teaching that incorporated the students in the learning process. I am sitting in my room at the high school writing and will be headed back up to North Georgia only miles from where this idea for teaching started in a few days.

“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

Always in movies with a jungle setting the leader has a machete and hacks away at the undergrowth making the way clear for the group following. D’Angelo is an author of sorts, an author who as a senior at West Chester State University in Pennsylvania wrote a paper “Wellness Works”, which would become the basis for his ideas. While writing primarily about college life he was also offering bits and pieces of wit to help folks make it through the day. He is Author of The College Blue Book and the inspirational series; we are creating a new kind of “school” for a new kind of world. It just so happens my college career started at West Chester State as well although in my feeble attempt at education I was asked not to return and ended up facing a military draft physical only to find I was physically unfit for military service.

“After all, the world as we know it is less than 15 years old. In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and in 1995 the World Wide Web went up. It is a completely new world for us all. With this new world, come new challenges. With these new challenges, come new ways of educating people for the future and it is our every intention to be at the fore front of this educational revolution. The 20th Century was about Content, but the 21st Century is about Context.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

As I read through the website dealing with empowerment many interesting ideas and thoughts that last line hit me like a ton of bricks. John Dewey was saying the same thing nearly a hundred years ago. Context is the critical component versus content.

“Most College Students Get a Degree, But Not an Education.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

The basis and rationale of his thoughts centered on the fact nearly one third of college students drop out. His writings and training (coaching) are meant to change that. Going back again nearly 100 years ago another educational revolutionary had similar thoughts. John Dewey offered a very similar constraint to content versus context with his take on constructivism.

“Learners who can adapt quickly by learning in a complex world are more likely to adapt to changing conditions and survive as an individual.” Martin Dougiamas, A journey into Constructivism

It has been a quite a few days possibly years since I walked in my yard to show some friends from the South Georgia coast my ever-growing herb garden. I was pulling a few leaves here and there comparing different types of thyme and mints but all the same it was a matter of trying to dodge raindrops and our dog running between my legs trying to get back in the house. My friends had gone to the amusement park all day and were worn out but hamburgers and hotdogs off the Bird nest grill and a few minutes catching up and we were into old stories and somehow reptiles. It seems my oldest and my good friend who had come by are both amateur herpetologists and snake talk can go on for hours. As I stood thinking just before going to bed that night it was so quiet other than the dripping of the rain on the house and from trees and shrubs. It was an ethereal undertaking walking out in the remnants of a rain of that evening.

“Learning is a search for meaning. Therefore, learning must start with the issues around which students are actively trying to construct meaning.” On Purpose Associates

Looking at the surroundings yesterday morning as I walked through the house checking to see if the dog needed to go out for her morning constitutional I saw the light or I should say my senses saw light. I can accept that thought and or pursue why and how I saw a light. It could be perhaps the batteries are low and it is only a glimmer of light. Last year I started a daily log on each of my students writing down as events transpired within my various classrooms, while focusing on education I would also jot down any events or happening with that student that may be important. As I thought daily life is little different as I read D’Angelo’s thoughts, while he focused on college students the application to a lesser degree very easily could be made to own my students who are at high risk for graduation from high school. By pushing that envelope further, we have people who are at risk with life itself.

“The purpose of learning is for an individual to construct his or her own meaning, not just memorize the “right” answers and regurgitate someone else’s meaning. Since education is inherently interdisciplinary, the only valuable way to measure learning is to make the assessment part of the learning process, ensuring it provides students with information on the quality of their learning.” On Purpose Associates

As a teacher so often, I found myself saying this is my class room and you will do as I say. I even have gone so far as to declare back in the day when I had a trailer, my room as an independent kingdom and issued money, Mr. Bird bucks. I still have the crown although it currently resides on a rather large stuffed antelope head (an eland) on my classroom wall. However, in the process of declaring an independent kingdom from the rest of school we as a group signed a declaration of independence. While I said my class room, in effect the room had become the student’s class room.

“I believe that all education proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race. This process begins unconsciously almost at birth, and is continually shaping the individual’s powers, saturating his consciousness, forming his habits, training his ideas, and arousing his feelings and emotions. Through this unconscious education the individual gradually comes to share in the intellectual and moral resources which humanity has succeeded in getting together. He becomes an inheritor of the funded capital of civilization. The most formal and technical education in the world cannot safely depart from this general process. It can only organize it or differentiate it in some particular direction.” John Dewey

Do I simply want to accept the light from the night or pursue finding out more? I recall just before school was out that I spent the better part of my planning period on the phone with a parent. This particular student has been a problem for all of his teachers, numerous physiological reasons can quickly be brought to our attention and various assundery medications have been prescribed over the years. In high school with four different teachers and different outlooks of perception we have a student being daily assessed by four people and four world views. On a particular bad day, I jotted down behaviors that were issues. At some point his medications came into the discussion and the student made a comment how he felt that was the issue not his behavior. You might say, “The medicine made him do it”. He as often found excuses for his behavior as we all do.

“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

I find myself being sort of a renegade in the high school and not willing to accept four other good teachers’ viewpoints without investigating I always dig deeper into the issues of the student’s behavior. Upon referring to a handy Physician’s Desk Reference, PDR, eight of the behavior issues were side effects of his particular medications and all of the medications were recommended for adults. Indicated in bold lettering there are warnings this medication may cause drowsiness and to not operate equipment while taking this medication. The problem this student was being referred for every day was sleeping in class. We gave this student ISS for sleeping and for making comments about how he can’t think straight. All day long we hack at leaves, I tell friends in the north about kudzu. It is so hard to describe a plant that hacking at the leaves only infuriates it, it seems to grow faster. Add to it a couple of tropical storms and hurricanes worth of water dumped on it helps as well. But whether it is in education or family we need to look beyond traditional means. It is about context versus content borrowing from D’Angelo and of course John Dewey.

I was speaking with my son many years ago about teenager issues as we rode home from a band practice. It is so easy to say one thing, hack off leaves and never really get to the roots. He asked me why our county has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates. I offered often lack of education, or simply indifference to the responsibility and focus on the moment we have so engrained in our kids and lifestyles. A year or two later I am dealing with the issue personally with my son. Maybe I should have offered context and less content discussing pregnancy. So I walk out today looking for how come it is so bright outside even in the rain we also need to look at context. We also need to review why we keep sharpening the machete and not look for a shovel and as I finish today harm is an elusive word. A child raised in an environment where tomorrow is questionable is that harm? Students who say whatever and quit school is that harm? Young men and women fighting in various wars around the world is that harm to themselves as well as those around them? Refugees in Sudan tying shelter together with sticks, thread and leaves is that harm? I wonder if we even care at times more worried about the trivial pieces of life what shirt or shoes to wear? So today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and be sure to give thanks namaste.

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

A rock flower and song

Bird Droppings April 28, 2022
A rock flower and song

A journey begins with a step, and apathy begins with turning your back and saying I don’t care. Before we left school for the virus last year, I had my last IEP. I recall my laptop was acting weirder than usual, and all of my school emails jumped to my email account and then disappeared. After several months of writing, my entire address book went into computer limbo. I came home still the same on my home account, and my email for school was not there and went back to school, logged on again, and everything came up. Something simple was not working; my password was wrong according to my computer, then I checked, and the caps lock was on; a simple fix.

Then suddenly, as if by magic, my account was gone again, which was very frustrating not understanding electronics and computers. It seems they were doing server work at school unbeknownst to those of us using it.

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.” Benjamin Franklin

It is so easy to get caught up in oneself and our minor troubles, just as I did this morning. The following are the words to a song sent to me many years back by the mother of a teenage daughter. I remember the song from many years ago. My friend said her mother enjoyed this song recorded by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmy Lou Harris, among many others, to use the words. I wonder how many folks will remember them or the song as I sit here.

By Dolly Parton

The hills were alive with wildflowers
And I was as wild as, even wilder than they
For at least I could run; they just died in the sun
And I refused to just wither in place
Just a wild mountain rose, needing freedom to grow
So I ran, fearing not where I’d go
When a flower grows wild, it can always survive
Wildflowers don’t care where they grow

And the flowers I knew in the fields where I grew
Were content to be lost in the crowd
They were common and close; I had no room for growth
I wanted so much to branch out

I uprooted myself from home ground and left
Took my dreams, and I took to the road
When a flower grows wild, it can always survive
Wildflowers don’t care where they grow

I grew up fast and wild, and I never felt right
In a garden so different from me
I just never belonged; I just longed to be gone
So the garden, one day, set me free

Hitched a ride with the wind, and since he was my friend
I just let him decide where we’d go
When a flower grows wild, it can always survive
Wildflowers don’t care where they grow

So often, poetry and songs have meaning hidden in words, it might be in the way they play out, and many times in a song, the melody adds to the feeling and attitude portrayed by the words. Watching one of the American Idol contestants sing a song made famous by Garth Brooks, several commented on excellent songwriting. Keith Urban, a singer-songwriter, offered that the actual songwriter Tony Arata from Nashville. However, Tony went to Georgia Southern by chance and often showed up in small venues in Statesboro. Tony was my brother in laws college roommate. I throw out another song while I am on Tony Arata it is The Dance words are powerful, as is Garth’s delivery of the song.

Back to business, as I was reading this morning, so many teenagers feel as did this wildflower desiring to be or wanting to be free. Yet as I read the words to the song, an image of a wild rose growing in a sidewalk crack in New York popped into my mind and a line from another song made famous in the early 1970s.

“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. They took paradise and put up a parking lot.” Joni Mitchell

In the past months, I have addressed apathy, and a recently dear friend in a teacher meeting in Conyers was discussing apathy with teachers and how we can combat it. I thought about that all night; first, apathy is like a virus; it replicates rapidly and soon overwhelms. Soon it takes over, but what does apathy look like and feel like. There are keywords and phrases, such as whatever, because, no reason, I’m passing, I’ll do it tomorrow, everybody else is doing it, it’s not mine, and a good one, let me copy your homework. The list goes on and on apathy, procrastination, and not caring can be rampant.

I am reading again a book, Neither Wolf nor Dog, written by Kent Nerburn about Native American Spirituality. The Introduction to the book is a few pages long, telling of a motorcycle ride into the plains and of a large rock considered sacred to the Sioux. It is called the buffalo rock. A relatively simple large boulder situated in the migration path of the buffalo looked somewhat like a buffalo. Today it has a plague on it telling its historical significance and an iron fence around it to protect it. Nerburn writes of how he was taken to tears looking at this ancient symbol caged as he wrote and as he walked around pondering the thousands of years of people who would touch the rock for luck in the hunt or honor and respect as they rode by this rock in the plains of America. As he walked about sitting on top of the rock, he carefully placed a crumpled cigarette not snuffed out by a careless tourist crumpled, and the tobacco spilled out onto the rock’s surface. Tobacco is sacred to the plains Indians, and someone had carefully honored the rock and memories. Someone still cared.

I look at schools and the concept or possible illness of lack of apathy. I wondered if someone was caring enough to seek a cure. Second, could it be possible to weed out teachers who teach and lecture apathetically, which then causes apathy in students? It is not just a school thing for many students learn apathy at home. Many years ago, I remembered a professor who would walk in never address the class, go to his podium, start reading the book, and when the bell would ring, stop and leave the room. In a semester, he never addressed a student’s question, an issue was never brought up, he gave a final, and who knows if anyone passed. Was it his class, or was it his classes that were apathetic? Most assuredly, he had some symptoms, and from there, the degree of apathy can vary, although I would say it was severe with him.

Apathy is much like a vacuum; however, once the seal is broken, it fills rapidly once learning is allowed in. Curing apathy, however, often requires others to lend a hand. Begin a new day with a new thought reach for the stars like last night with a clear crescent moon and stars. If you can see more than eleven stars in the constellation Orion, you have a clear night; I saw twenty-eight earlier this morning. Seek out something new, wonderful, and engaging. Apathy breeds within itself and upon itself. It is thinking and learning that keep apathy away. Another fantastic day for each of us; please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and hearts and always give thanks namaste. I will end with one of my favorite quotes borrowing from the Governor of California, “I’ll be back.” Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


Driving up a mountain takes considerable effort.

Bird Droppings April 27, 2022
Driving up a mountain takes considerable effort.

I am looking forward to another trip to Black Rock Mountain in North Georgia, the site of the Foxfire Museum property. In the past, the site was used as a focus of Piedmont College’s teacher’s class in The Foxfire Approach to teaching. My oldest son took the course as a piece of Piedmont’s master’s degree program. But interestingly enough, several folks who graduated from Loganville High School, my son’s old HS, attended this course. As we went around the room doing introductions, one of the teachers commented on an interesting point for her the first time she had ever held a snake in my old classroom at Loganville High School, holding Stevie, my ball python. Sadly, Stevie passed at thirty-plus years of age after nineteen years of being around students. I’m sitting here thinking there is a picture of her 2003 State Champion Softball team in my files.

As I recall my past sessions sitting and listening to teachers and teachers be in the discussions that went around the room with the lead facilitators providing a framework, I was always amazed at how quickly others began to expound or expand the conversation, which was a starting point of a weeklong session. Depending on the facilitators, the initial start could take a few minutes for those gathered to realize it was a joint venture of teachers and students searching for answers.

I had hit on an idea for my dissertation topic, which has eluded me. I had been sitting in discussion with a former student, and he offered the idea that I had shown him or helped him find how he learned from me through my stories. As I pondered deeper into that morning, this idea stuck with me, a topic from it. I would use my passion for storytelling, which toed directly into the Art of Learning and using the Foxfire Core Practices as a palette. Only a few days ago, my idea evolved again and now is, Stirring up Foxfire: Rekindling Personal Passion for Teaching through Storytelling. I have come across the word improvisational through discussion on my teaching style. That combination of student and teacher thinking is just that improvisational.

When I left Mountain City on my last trip and drove back to the lower lands of Walton County, I felt excited about the possibilities and my epiphany that morning with the idea that learning is an art form. John Dewey’s book, Experience, and Education, sits to my left as I write, and the past few days, I have borrowed from it several times as I jotted ideas down. But within the community of fellow learners and teachers, we find answers and more questions to ask. I thrive on learning, even though I am sure many of my high school teachers and some college professors would argue. Amazing things can be accomplished when students want to learn and desire to learn. Core practice one sums it up.

“From the beginning, learner choice, design, and revision infuse the work teachers and learners do together.” Core Practice One from The Foxfire Core Practices

John Dewey and his thoughts run through the Foxfire Approach to Teaching, emphasizing a democratic classroom, experience as a means of learning, and student input into learning. I find that this is a relatively simple statement. This initial core practice and the other nine have evolved over nearly fifty years of teacher interactions and discussions worldwide. But so often, a key attribute is missed: students and teachers do this undertaking together. In my last course attended, listening to sixteen nearly teachers and active teachers respond to why they were involved in this class gave me a sense that maybe a few get it in the world.

We talk about test scores in education, which are also used to measure federal and state guidelines in most schools. Standardized tests are given to all students at the end or near the end of a school term on specific subjects to measure what students have learned. Sadly, many students could take the same test at the beginning of the term and score the same, so is that a valid measure of what is learned? Probably not. Far too many teachers avoid discussing the concept of learning; they are engrossed in standards, curriculum, forms, and teacher manuals on the subject. So, I am offering to learn a stream to cross or an art form. Both of these ideas are fluid, moving, and ever-changing.

“Measuring tools lead to quantification; the tools in the arts lead to qualification.” Elliot Eisner, The Arts and the Creation of Mind

Do we ever truly measure learning? I have been wondering this since I started back into teaching, although in different words and meanings. A simple measure would be given a pre-test and post-test, showing where a student started and where they ended. A far more involved scenario would be using portfolios to gather the evidence as the student progresses through the material. They are effectively used in some schools to measure learning and student growth. These would consist of gathering artifacts along the way from the student. Essays, reports, assignments, and any piece of material involved in the student’s academic life could be considered an artifact.

“With respect to art and its meaning I share Dewey’s view that art is a mode of human experience that in principle can be secured whenever an individual interacts with any aspect of the world.” Elliot Eisner, The Arts and the Creation of Mind

So, I am wandering as I sit here this almost summer-like morning pondering an article to write on critical pedagogy. I sat down yesterday trying to write, but my energy level has deteriorated even after two five-hour energy shots, and I did little more than ponder a moment. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts, and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


Unwoke folks used Pronouns first

Bird Droppings April 26, 2022
Unwoke folks used Pronouns first

One of those days yesterday, and a word caught my attention as I was listening to a friend talk. The word was them. I never realized the extent of prejudice till a pronoun was used. Such words as they, them, or those people never were a term used to delineate who they were, but it was apparent within moments. It was about then that they took over in that area or verbiage to that extent. This morning, I wrote a whimsical tale of observation to a friend about watching a leave floating along a stream. My premise did we allow the leave to pass, or do we interfere with lifting the floating leave from its journey to observe or interact.

I recall I had lunch with a dear friend a few years back, someone who reflects with me on many topics. This person does not use they or them unless referring to political parties or politicians. I recall my oldest son came along as he was helping me at school move and such to my new abode on C hall. This was over sixteen years ago. We talked about education at lunch, why so many teachers have difficulty, why some parents have a hard time, and why some children end up the way they do. We discussed scholars and philosophers and talked of my son’s journey in school, which was only a few months away, and he finished his Masters hopefully, he will have a firm job offer nearby.

We reflected on my own life’s journey and directions and that of several mutual friends and their paths. We compared our observations, made notes, and reflected on new directions and pathways ahead. I raised the question as I heard earlier in the day of them, and we talked of them and is there a difference in teaching them or us is there a difference in attitudes between them and us. It is so funny when two people, three actually my son was there talking about life and attitudes and are very positive; it is hard to use pronouns of them and us. It changed to we continually. We should do this or this, not us and or them.

“There is a destiny that makes us brothers; No one goes his way alone; All that we send into the lives of others, Comes back into our own.” Edwin Markham

As I talk with people and email, I find I am no longer simply an observer; I am now interacting, altering that moment of destiny and the future by my words. My choice to use or not use a word or even discuss a subject and respond positively or negatively affects the journey for myself and that other person.

“When you are right, you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We sometimes need to take a stand and try to alter destiny. It isn’t destiny till it happens anyway. We can change the direction of the leaf floating by, a slight movement of a word, and perhaps light can permeate even the darkest of corners, and a person who sees only in black and white may be allowed to see color and realize in an instant what has been missing in their journey. A professor and I were discussing the butterfly effect. The flap of a butterfly’s wing in the Andes of Peru could create enough turbulence to alter the path of a hurricane. As I thought deeper, never let a leaf float by if you know a waterfall is only a few feet away. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and pull a few leaves from the current when you get a chance as I will and always give thanks namaste.

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

I was quietly listening to Hot Tuna and pondering the word inspiration.

Bird Droppings April 25, 2022
I was quietly listening to Hot Tuna and pondering the word inspiration.

It has been some time since I was made aware of Hot Tuna’s band. Sitting here listening to their music takes me back to 1973 or 4 in Macon, Georgia, and the fellow I went to school with. We were both students at Mercer University. I was a music novice coming to Macon but learned quickly in the music capital of the US at that time. Over a few years, I heard many famous musicians in concert either at the University or Macon Coliseum. I have never seen this band Hot Tuna live but have listened to it now for nearly fifty years. The original Jefferson Airplane split up; and one group went acoustic and Blues, and the other stayed electric. Hot Tuna is the acoustic group. 

Nearly fifteen years ago, at a county-wide teacher kick-off meeting which used to be before budget cuts, traditionally a packaged inspirational meeting and welcomes back for the new school year led by a guest speaker. Someone is paid to come in and inspire us as teachers, it could be a comedian or professional speaker, and it seems they try a new approach each year. I would much rather enjoy hearing Nelson Mandela or Bishop Tutu, maybe even Jimmy Carter, but so far, no such luck. In the past, before austerity cuts the county start-up program, we would need to carpool over to the Monroe high school gym near our county office and sit in the bleachers listening to pep talks and such, and most teachers would leave wishing they had called in sick. I once considered asking for a substitute, but our secretary did not think the county would cover a sub.

A young black college professor stood in front of us. He made his point not one person approached him as he boogied through the crowd before the meeting. So, I start today with a quote from a young college professor.

“You can teach anyone anything once you get their ATTENTION.” Dr. Adolph Brown, III

Before the aforementioned annual teachers’ inspirational gathering in the county, this same professor walked about the crowd clad in hip hop attire, the baggy pants and shirt, and a baseball cap with a dew rag. He could have been from any street corner in Atlanta or Monroe, where the school is located, and he was just a young black man. As they announced, Dr. Brown, a very distinguished man in a business suit, rises and heads towards the podium. The hip-hop fellow moves toward the mike, take charge and announces he is Dr. Adolph Brown III from Hampton College, professor of psychology and education. He is a worldwide consultant and motivational speaker.

“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth.'” Dan Rather

We, teachers, sat listening to this young professor talk about faith, trust, and getting students’ attention.

“In teaching, you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.” Jacques Barzun

New teachers want to change students’ lives immediately, but the fundamental changes are often years later. Recently a former history teacher joined our high school group site, and many of our members were offering memories of this great teacher’s efforts in the classroom and as a coach. Mr. Ross Kershey was one of the winningest basketball and track coaches in Pa. and a genuinely great teacher in the classroom, inspiring students to learn. It has been over forty-five years since I was in his class, yet I still consider him one of the best teachers. Over the years, I have sat at the feet of some great teachers in college classes and industrial seminars while working as a professional management training coordinator.

“Most teachers have little control over school policy or curriculum or choice of texts or special placement of students, but most have a great deal of autonomy inside the classroom. To a degree shared by only a few other occupations, such as police work, public education rests precariously on the skill and virtue of the people at the bottom of the institutional pyramid.” Tracy Kidder

I had a former student visit me a few years back. He had walked across the stage nearly fifteen years ago to accept a special education diploma and then went on and officially finished high school and received his general education diploma, and went on to college. It was a good feeling to be sitting there talking with a student who kept at it and succeeded even though all the odds were stacked against him.

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

This is what teaching is about, it is an inspiration, and I wish all teachers could have heard those comments we heard in our Walton County teacher’s meeting that year when Dr. Brown offered the critical component in teaching it is our example. It is setting an example for students. I have heard that many times and somehow, it does not sink in with most teachers. So, as we head towards a school end for the summer and End of Course Tests the next few weeks at our school, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

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

Eating some leftover chicken parmesan and thinking about the circle of life

Bird Droppings April 22, 2022

Eating some leftover chicken parmesan and thinking about the circle of life

A couple of days ago, I made a huge pan of chicken parmesan and had plenty of leftovers. So I am sitting at my computer working on my Birddroppings and dissertation, eating some. Several things have led me to my writing today. I am a student of Carl Jung in terms of my psychological philosophy is more in tune with him than, say, Freud. I see events intertwining and taking us to the next event. As I have been working on citations for my dissertation and verifying page numbers from several references, I ended yesterday reading Dr. Michael Garrett’s book Walking in the Wind again. 

“You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round.” Black Elk, Ogalala Lakota Medicine man

If you think a bit soon, all you will see are circles. Hurricanes and tornadoes move in circles. Birds build their nests in circles. The more philosophical meaning could be looking at life; we have birth and then the circle of our journey until death completes the circle. In the past six days or so, several friends from high school have passed on. Each had a journey in life, touching many people and many friends.

I was mowing my front yard yesterday, trying to stay ahead of the forecasted rain early this morning. I have a rather large selection of music on my Apple music through my iPhone and hearing aids. My middle son had suggested a group, Mandolin Orange, and I have become a fan. My iPhone, however, has recently decided that after an album finishes, it will introduce me to similar music in that same genre. So here I am mowing, listening to my music, and it changes still similar to what I like, so I keep mowing. A song by Jason Isabelle is playing. Honestly, I can say I do not know him. The song title is weird, “If we were vampires.” The chorus hit me hard. I cut off the mower and went to my front porch to sit and listen again without the mower running. I had to look up the lyrics. Perhaps it was reading about a friend passing just before I started cutting grass. It might have been thinking about my wife Pat, whom I married forty-four years, I am not sure, but I was crying.

“It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever; likely, one of us will have to spend some days alone.

Maybe we will get forty years together, but one day I’ll be gone, or one day you’ll be gone.” Jason Isabell

Words to a song can impact us, perhaps opening up memories and forgotten pieces of our lives. The intellect and the artist in us intertwine, intersect, and blend our soul’s avenues. I read more in Walking on the Wind and finished my mowing with this song stuck in my head. We live life so flippantly and waste precious moments. I thought back to friends lost over the years and my father and father-in-law, whose birthday is coming up. I thought of my mother when she lost my father nearly fifteen years back and then my mother’s passing. I shared with my granddaughter that I miss my writing spiders, and they will be coming out soon as they get bigger. I am writing today with several dream catchers around me reminding me of the web of life. We each merely strand on the web. I thought of the word synchronicity used by Carl Jung. I took my wife’s car to wash this morning and gas up. As I pulled off the ramp, a red-tailed hawk swooped by me. Ten-second sooner or later, and I would have missed it.

“Wellness is harmony in spirit, mind, and body.” Carol Locust, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Harvard Educational Review

I read this line from Dr. Garett’s book from a list written by Carol Locust. It sounds so simple, but it connected with the lyrics from the song of Jason Isabelle. Dr. Garett stressed that we need balance in our lives. I somehow seem to be drawn back to a yellow sticky note left on my computer screen over twenty-five years ago by my sixteen-year-old son. He was a big fan of Aerosmith, and the words he wrote were from a song on one of their albums. A young man had been severely injured in a car accident; he was close to all of us. I spent the night by his bedside, watching the monitors and holding his hand. Come morning; he was declared brain dead; he had always said he would be an organ donor and was taken for surgery to save other lives. I was hit hard that night, having three teenagers at home myself. I drove home from the hospital and sat down at my computer to see this yellow sticky note.

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

These threads intertwine, being spun as I sit here writing. Savor the moments and time we have. I have a digital photo album next to my desk, and as I looked over, a spider web was on the screen. A writing spider, amazing how life and our journeys interconnect. My dear friends, please keep all in harm’s way in your hearts, on your minds, and always give thanks, namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


Can we find Truth in an untruthful world?

Bird Droppings April 21, 2022
Can we find Truth in an untruthful world?

For the third or fourth time, I reread a book titled; Every day is a good day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous women by the late Wilma Mankiller. Mankiller was the past Chief of The Cherokee Nation and a Native American Activist, author, lecturer, and several time cancer survivor. I borrowed my status for today on Facebook from her writings. I planned to be writing this morning about this book, but after a severe back muscle spasm last night, it took a bit longer to get started today. I am working on several writing and photo projects, and my back sidetracked me trying to get anything done today. I might need to finish my crackers and get rolling. I feel better than I felt this morning. Today I will be addressing an issue at the foundation of why so many issues of today even exist. The situation is their Truth or a lack thereof in our society today.

“I don’t think anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future. “In Iroquois society, leaders are encouraged to remember seven generations in the past and consider seven generations in the future when making decisions that affect the people. “Wilma Mankiller

After pondering and reading more of Wilma Mankiller’s book, I always find new pieces that seem to mean more today than in the previous reading. One of these aspects is Truth. When elected Chief many years back, Wilma was the first woman to be elected head of any prominent tribe, and she based her life and philosophy on Truth. So perhaps it is appropriate today that I will be addressing an issue at the foundation of why so many issues of the day even exist, the Truth or the lack thereof.

“A king asked a sage to explain the Truth. In response, the sage asked the king how he would convey the taste of a mango to someone who had never eaten anything sweet. No matter how hard the king tried, he could not adequately describe the flavor of the fruit, and, in frustration, he demanded of the sage, ‘Tell me then, how would you describe it?’ The sage picked up a mango and handed it to the king, saying, ‘This is very sweet. Try eating it!'” Hindu Teaching Story

Sometimes, we can get the point across simply by telling the Truth. Nothing can describe more adequately than Truth. I have written about Truth numerous times and talked with teachers and educational experts about that same subject. It is tough to always be truthful in our society today. We can often question; what is Truth, much as did the great philosophers of old. As I read the Hindu parable above, it hit me. Maybe Truth is within the experience; borrowing from the great educator and philosopher John Dewey, Truth is within the experience. It is being able to find it through a life event. For a few months, in terms of history, I have been saying that it is nonfiction at the point of occurrence, but as soon as someone tells the story, it becomes fiction. I may need to watch Tom Hank’s movie of him as a traveling newsman.

“It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tossed upon the sea: a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to standing upon the vantage ground of truth… and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below.” Sir Francis Bacon

“It is unfortunate, considering that enthusiasm moves the world, that so few enthusiasts can be trusted to speak the truth.” Arthur James Balfour

As I read what these great thinkers have to say about Truth, it is sad that they see Truth as an uncommon commodity, which is few and far between. We watch the news and read papers each day and choose to believe or not believe what we see. Batboy is having plastic surgery to look normal was the title of a grocery store tabloid many months back. One of my favorites was when Bill Clinton was in office, and he was having sex with an alien. Most of us see these doctored photos and total fabrications and pass them off, but some people take it to heart. Many believe Apollo missions were total fabrication because, for example, the Van Allen Belts and numerous other events in history were also fabricated. Conspiracy theories abound about daily happenings, leading to this or that conclusion. Many have been scientifically debunked, including Nine Eleven’s attack, yet they persist. A local science professor comments in class while teaching genetics that the Apollo mission is a hoax. How can one thing he never saw be bogus and yet teach something he never saw again?

“Between truth and searching for it, I choose the second.” Bernard Berenson

“When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.” Otto Von Bismarck

Why is it that Truth is so elusive? I find it hard to understand that we go at life intent on fabrication, deceit, and deception. Bismarck’s comment, though nearly a hundred years old, is still very true.

“Truth can never be told to be understood and not be believed.” William Blake

“Truth lies within ourselves: it takes no rise from outward things, whatever you may believe. There is an inmost center in us all, where Truth abides in fullness and to Know rather consists in opening out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape than in effecting entry for light supposed to be without.” Robert Browning

“A few observations and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to truth.” Alexis Carrel

I look back and see how so many times in avoiding Truth, the tales grew with each moment, and soon a story takes the place of a simple event. Soon a novel unravels, and the line between fiction and nonfiction becomes a canyon literally.

“The pursuit of truth will set you free, even if you never catch up with it.” Clarence Darrow

“Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time.” Benjamin Disraeli

“Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.” Meister Eckhart

Isn’t it sad that Truth is so complicated and yet so easy? Telling the Truth eliminates numerous additional words and time that could be spent perhaps going in the right direction rather than pursuing issues that really may not pertain. It is so simple and yet so elusive to so many.

“The greater the truth, the greater the libel.” Lord Ellenborough

“Truth is beautiful, without doubt, but so are lies.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We so easily get caught up in deceit because this is what we want to hear. Watching the news of our past president unfold and spun by each side two seemingly different stories almost opposite in content yet the same event. The Truth may be painful or challenging to take, so the fabrication becomes a reality. A movie out a few years back portrays the world of a person with schizophrenia, “A Beautiful Mind.” Dr. John Nash is played by Russell Crowe very convincingly. Dr. Nash eventually realizes the duplicity of his reality and learns to deal with it. Many of us never accept the unreal we create each day as we fabricate and manipulate that around us.

We are brought up accepting untruths; we have professionals and politicians who work at telling half-truths and fabricating them to do their jobs as they run the country.

Wouldn’t it be an exciting world if politicians could take a few drops of medicine and become truthful? We wouldn’t have a use for politicians, and anyone could run for office. Would it not be great if we could believe those who run the country for us, elected by us, and not rely on shock jock radio and TV personalities who build their listening audience on deceit. What if the president was telling the Truth and the commentators who were angling for listeners were lying? As I look at this concept, it is sad that we have such a short attention span. We listen to the loudest and most exciting version even when we watch an event unfold and know what is real. I wonder how many people believed the photo of Bill Clinton and the Alien back in the day. Recently a movie, The Campaign, essentially a comedy, jokingly made its way back and forth until just before the end, and the fellow who was down in the poles began telling the Truth and changed the election.

“Respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality.” Frank Herbert

“Peace if possible, but truth at any rate.” Martin Luther

“You’ll never get mixed up if you tell the Truth. Then you don’t have to remember what you have said, and you never forget what you have said.” Sam Rayburn

We live in a society where morality is bantered about as a catchword. We live in a world where peace is elusive often because Truth is nowhere to be found. We live in a world where politicians count how many times the other side has changed their minds and or rhetoric on issues. We live in a world where many are in harm’s way. Many of these instances are due to untruths, which we justify by buying into additional untruthful information and rationales. Do we even remember the what and the why of the actual event? So as I sit reading and writing this morning, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


Pondering and thinking about the lyrics from an old friend

Bird Droppings April 20, 2022
Pondering and thinking about the lyrics from an old friend

Back in the “normal” days, I stood in line behind a young man in his mid-thirties, and I assumed his wife at a BBQ place at Stone Mountain Park. I know we can argue it is a memorial to the South carved on a mountain. I am a history buff of all kinds, and I enjoy history and the philosophy behind it. I read a line that “when people claim their heritage, they are called racist.” I go back to two folks I was behind at the BBQ place. Both had confederate battle flags emblazoned on their t-shirts. Both shirts indicated the South was going to rise again. We are proud of our heritage. Then I read this note, the first two paragraphs of an essay going into more detail.

“For the past 150-some years, while the Confederate battle flag has monopolized attention with its corrosive symbolism and inflammatory bluster, a different, largely unknown Confederate flag — the Confederate Flag of Truce, which the South used in the process of surrendering to the North — has been quietly waiting for its moment in the spotlight. That moment is now. Hoping to start a new conversation around the Civil War artifact, textile and social practice artist Sonya Clark has conceived a massive version of the Flag of Truce, measuring 15 by 30 feet — 10 times the size of the original flag.” Meredith Mendelsohn, CNN

So, I am sitting here pondering a flag of truce. A truce is peace, and a battle flag has difficulty being peaceful. Just some food for thought. A significant lead into my friend. I have been in the same room; I have often said concert hall listening to his music. I have heard nearly every song he has written. Not all but almost all. He and I share epilepsy and work with disabled children and adults. So maybe indirectly we are friends.

I first started listening to Neil Young’s music in 1966 or possibly even earlier if you count Buffalo Springfield, a short-lived band, and 1968 with Crosby Stills, Nash, and Young at Woodstock and Deja vu, their first album, which I am sitting here listening too. While I did not make it to Woodstock, I can say my old sleeping bag was there; a good friend at the time borrowed it. When I made my way south into the land of The Allman Brothers band, in the fall of 1971, on my way to Florida, the flower petals were still in the streets from Dwayne Allman’s funeral a month past, music and lyrics had become a part of who I was.

I was reading online last night, and I recalled a friend online who used to list the songs of Neil Young on her website. I responded to her so many years ago with a note that I did not think anyone under fifty had ever heard of Neil Young. Outside of my house, my kids grew up with Neil Young. Several years ago, Neil Young had a medical crisis and a sort of mid-life crisis all about the same time. After finding he had an aneurysm in his brain, he decided that he needed to record immediately, sort of just in case. As life goes, he was afraid this might be his last CD. He took it upon himself from being warned he needed surgery immediately and postponing for a week to write and produce an entire CD, Prairie Wind. A few days after leaving the hospital after successful surgery on the brain aneurism, the spot on his leg where the catheter had been inserted broke open. He collapsed outside his hotel, nearly dying from blood loss.

The words to this song caught my attention many times but especially this morning; I questioned who and why we are. Several of my friends and I have discussed freedom in general, free choice, student choice, and other great philosophical topics in our blogs and online discussions, which perhaps led me to this today. The song’s title is, When God made me, by Neil Young.

“Was he thinkin’ about my country or the color of my skin? Was he thinkin’ ’bout my religion and the way I worshipped him? Did he create just me in his image or every living thing? Was he planning only for believers or for those who just have faith? Did he envision all the wars that were fought in his name? Did he say there was only one way to be close to him? Did he give me the gift of love to say who I could choose? Did he give me the gift of voice so some could silence me? Did he give me the gift of vision not knowing what I might see? Did he give me the gift of compassion to help my fellow man?” Neil young, When God made me, Prairie Wind

I walked out into the stillness of the morning earlier today. It has been raining quite lately, so the pollen has been washed away. There was a lone bird; I think one that was mixed upon its timing and weather (I wonder whether anyone gives the daylight savings time to nature). Maybe the bird was still adjusting or migrating from another time zone, and it might have been a Yankee bird, as a friend would have told me. But here, nearby, singing all alone deep in the woods, is a single bird. I like days a hint of green, and the lacework of twigs and opening buds provide a great background for thought; everything smells so good with rain and sounds so new in spring. Perhaps early morning will still be quiet even with neighbors.

“Did he give me the gift of compassion to help my fellow man?” Neil Young

Funny how a line sticks with you in a song, poem, or book. I kept thinking about this line yesterday. Between oil spills, Ukraine, getting tough on North Korea, and as always, the breaking news today computers at IRS broke down, a leak from a Washington reporter in 2009 that started numerous political dramas, all seem insignificant now, over 38176 falsehoods or lie’s in the past presidency. Some want to blame China or Democratic governors or whoever is next on the blame list, and I wonder if the word compassion ever made it into Washington.

I was walking through a Wal-Mart a few days back with my mask in place, sort of the entire world at a glance; everyone ends up in Wal-Mart. One of my former students came in. He was all excited he had just gotten a job there. But as I walked through the Wal-Mart, an employee near the pharmacy explained the new Medicare drug plan to an elderly person. They had a booth set up with a full-time staff person. They are to be helping elderly folks, and they need to have people telling them what is going on since most people, including myself, haven’t a clue. It’s ironic, and they wonder why so many people haven’t joined up yet. The line is too long at the explanation booth.

Compassion is such a simple word. It has been several years since I did work with indigents to find housing and food for families. I recall several bits of wisdom coming from Washington, for example, cutting off welfare if a person was not looking for a job. A favorite is if you fail a drug test, no more welfare. If you are homeless by choice, you are off of welfare, that one sort of floored me. It had to do with issues of not paying taxes by one person somewhere in Texas who found he could save money being homeless. Another was if income was too high, cut out Medicaid.

Cutting health care was always one that intrigued me. I worked with a fellow who had worked all his life till a massive heart attack disabled him, and he was limited to drawing disability. Due to illnesses all of her life, his wife had never worked enough combined quarters to draw anything more than a minimum disability check. I find it so interesting that anyone can even consider we do not need health care reform. Unfortunately, their medical bills exceeded their monthly government disability checks, and because their income exceeded federal standards, they did not get Medicaid. In a compromise, they took turns each month on which medicines not to get. They were getting help from one agency, but doctors had to fill in paperwork in volumes each month to receive free medicines. Sadly, the doctor’s office eventually stopped filling in the paperwork for them. Compassion is such a powerful word.

What if a disabled man I worked with for several years lived on about 350.00 per week. He is a severe diabetic and has numerous other health and related psychological issues; and virtually spends a week in the hospital a month. However, his monthly disability income keeps him from Medicaid, and so he moves periodically to avoid harassment and bill collectors from hospitals. Having a quality of life is that compassion? Are we helping our fellow man? As I watch what we do worldwide as a nation, I seriously wonder sometimes. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts, and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


Bird Droppings April 19, 2022

Making a difference each day

“Dialogue is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world” Paulo Freire

A Brazilian educationalist and one of the most influential thinkers of the late twentieth century made famous the term dialogue in his writing. As I read a bit about Freire this morning, a word in his vernacular that is interesting praxis for teachers is that horrible battery of tests for certification. For Freire, a meaning with import is “acts which shape and change the world.”

“Man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, this sidedness of his thinking in practice…. All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mystics find their rational solution in human practice and the comprehension of this practice…. The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” Karl Marx, 1845 Theses on Feuerbach: II, VII, XI

It is through thinking that events change and draw meaning. It is not simply thinking but applying these thoughts.

“It is not simply action based on reflection. It is an action that embodies certain qualities. These include a commitment to human well-being and the search for truth, and respect for others. It is the action of people who are free, who are able to act for themselves. Moreover, praxis is always risky. It requires that a person ‘makes a wise and prudent practical judgment about how to act in this situation” Carr and Kemmis 1986

Wise and prudent are not often used in most human situations, and it is infrequent that most people think about world good, even community good. We live in this more self-oriented society, a society of hedonism.

“Dialogue in itself is a co-operative activity involving respect. The process is important and can be seen as enhancing community and building social capital and to leading us to act in ways that make for justice and human flourishing.” Mark K. Smith, 1997

There are pieces here I started with a word dialogue and have moved rather rapidly through the concept of praxis, but after reading Mark Smith’s comments, the idea of human flourishing impresses me. I find it we do that perpetuate humankind’s species and ideals, and thoughts. I did a questionnaire for the state department of education on Thursday last week. The questions discussed standards and assessment and such combine that with teachers who are uptight with only five weeks or so left two till the end of course tests. This is now standard in most states but part of quantifying, but I question whether we are making strides in education. It becomes all about cramming pieces of information into the minuscule brains of teenagers. I recall Sydney J. Harris’s comparison to stuffing sausages. In our great effort to quantify, we have stripped quality.

“Educators have to teach. They have to transform transfers of information into a ‘real act of knowing” Paulo Freire

So, cramming and pouring vast amounts of information into students to take a test that had to be pushed up due to the calendar and state parameters makes a lot of sense. How much water can be poured into a one-liter bottle, and how many state officials will it take to figure it out. A summer or two ago, I recall reading tests to students with learning disabilities, almost a paradox in and of itself “reading graduation tests.” I looked across at my water bottle, and that thought hit me can we put more than a liter of water in a liter bottle. Immediately, I thought to freeze the water expands when chilled, then heating it again expansion. How do we put a gallon of information in a one-liter container, or is it ten gallons of material?

Back in the winter 0f 2019, on a trip to the mountains and a walk-through visit to the Foxfire museum, the reality of doing this hit is possible to fit ten gallons of knowledge in a one-liter container. The museum curator and guide held up a copper device and talked about the mainstay of mountain life in years gone by, “moon shining” the device he held up was a condenser used in making white lightning, grain alcohol, or moonshine. In theory, you can condense and distill those ten gallons to whatever capacity you want. You teach the necessary aspects borrowing from Freire, “transform transfers of information into a ‘real acts of knowing.” This is the key to taking the content and applying context. Then it will be remembered and provide the latitude to advance thinking and that person’s direction in life and make a difference. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts, and be sure always to give thanks namaste.

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

I’m not too fond of shopping, but I like Kroger

Bird Droppings April 18, 2022
I’m not too fond of shopping, but I like Kroger

About five years back, I spent nearly a week using ice packs as heat extractors for my computer until getting the fan fixed. It was interesting. I had two similar thoughts that came to me this morning as I started the day out. One I heard on the radio going to Kroger to get groceries and get gas for my wife’s car, a line from a Tom Petty song, and the other thought is from the Harry Potter books and movies. Almost fifteen years ago today, a new Kroger opened near our house. What a glorious day that was as I found another place where happiness abounds. I think it is mainly the store was closer and huge and always has good products and I like to cook, so it was nirvana for me. 

“I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing. Well, some say life will beat you down. Break your heart, steal your crown. So, I’ve started out for God knows where. I guess I’ll know when I get there.” Tom Petty  

“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” Professor Dumbledore to Harry in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” by J.K. Rowling

John Dewy advocated for learning through experience and building on past experiences to build for future experiences. I can almost apply Petty’s lyrics to education and how we have so standardized and bastardized learning teaching to the test. In politics, the focus on war efforts and the constant accumulation of things/wealth seems more important than doing any good. Of course, the philosophy of the ends justifies the means that could be applied. That was the approach when the last passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati Zoo, and some people had the attitude, well, it’s only a pigeon. Sadly, once there were billions of passenger pigeons flying over the forests of the east coast, and yes, it is only a pigeon, except we can never at this time replicate that one; it is gone. A week or so ago, I was in this discussion with a former student. Where does it end?

When it is gone, the Alaska wilderness can never be replicated, but if the end justifies it, many people see no problem. About a quarter of the known musk oxen survive in the Alaska wilderness sanctuary. However, as I sat this morning, perhaps a better brighter thought from J.K. Rowling thorough the character of Dumbledore “it is our choices that show who we are.” I wonder how soon Harry Potter books will be classics. Teachers will analyze the plots and develop theories on why Rowling characterized Harry as a boy or teenager and why an owl is his companion versus a weasel or pygmy shrew.

I recall eleventh or twelfth grade English and Ms. Stern and the classic novel “Moby Dick” according to her, the ship represented the world, and Ishmael got stuck on that ship. What was Melville telling us? I always thought it was a great story and history of New England’s whaling industry? I enjoyed the story but not the analysis, and when I wrote my opinion about it being historical in the reference, I was told in large red letters it was wrong, according to Ms. Stern. Many years ago, our choices, not our abilities, were the doctrine. I still think the same of the book and believe Ms. Stern was wrong.

” Ability is of little account without opportunity.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary.” Thomas A. Edison

It is about being at the right place at the right time, or is it the choice we make. It is also about applying and choosing when opportunity provides a window and the plot thickens.

“It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.” Elbert Hubbard

Humility is an added aspect of today’s search, seeing in others that ability is almost an intuitive aspect of humanity.

“The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts.” Booker T. Washington

This morning, I checked on my wife, who worked on her computer, fixed her breakfast, and curled up on the recliner. The grandbabies had not gotten up yet, and I would be making breakfast shortly. So, I am catching up; I read several emails, posted some baby pictures, and went for a short drive after they left, so now computer work. One former student who emailed me spoke of realizing school was nearing the end and graduation was only a few weeks ahead, and now they would have to make a way in life. That same email was a concern for a friend stationed in the Middle East. Watching the news doesn’t give justice to friends and families with loved ones overseas in harm’s way, as I think again choices we have made. I received an email from my son reminding me to review some emails to remind my wife to proofread and proof his essays—three emails of the seventy that genuinely caught my attention.

I started with a Petty quote, and maybe that applies to a graduate and a job search. So many of the following what we do with our lives is our choice, and how the world will see that choice depends on the direction and choices. It is not the ability you will be known for or how great an actor or musician or football player but what you do with your talent is seen. Family is crucial, and friends equally and consistently seek to learn more by reading, writing, thinking, and reflecting.

“If there were no writers, there will be no readers” unknown source

“Choose wisely,” it has been said, and, in the end, some do and some will not. So today, take stock of where you are, look at the road ahead, and pick that path that will direct you where you need to be.

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” Basho

We all look for quick solutions, five-minute abs, six minutes of wisdom, and a one-minute egg in today’s hectic world. Wisdom is not on the stock exchange; it is not a brokered commodity. It is more here now within, and it is a journey. The journey is not easy, and to be involved in finding wisdom, only those who travel that road will genuinely become wise.

“True wisdom lies in gathering the precious things out of each day as it goes by.” E. S. Bouton

Several nights ago, I was bored. Justified seemed to be missing, and I found Darby O’Gill and the Little people and Star Trek of all things, “Star Trek Insurrection.” The plot revolves around a planet where all is at peace. The few residents, all 600, have forsaken technology for art or literature, for the aesthetics in life, and for all that they can make of themselves. Interestingly a weaver studies for 40 years to become an apprentice and apprentice another 40 to become a master weaver of rugs and tapestries. These people live on a planet whose innate radiation prolongs life and rejuvenates their cellular structure, so they have time to accomplish what is inside them. It sounds so easy when the time allows it.

Daniel Day-Lewis, an actor and now cobbler, took a five-year hiatus from movies to study cobbling (shoemaking) in Europe from the masters. As the Star Trek movie progressed, a comment was made about a perfect moment, a special moment that stands out. Captain Pickard mentioned seeing earth from space for the first time; many astronauts recall that moment. It was a sunrise over the Atlantic one morning on Cumberland Island with the waves splashing about and the most brilliant reds and oranges I have ever seen. A shrimp boat slowly moved through this picture, yet the boat was insignificant in its awesomeness.

As Pickard spoke with this woman on this planet of a perfect moment, she offered to learn to make every moment perfect, and the movie continued, and soon he saw a hummingbird flit to a flower or pollen blown from a flower.

“Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am intrigued as I read various thoughts on wisdom, and for some reason, I am always drawn to Emerson. He was controversial yet perhaps one of the greatest thinkers and poets of his time. He was alluding to wisdom as a temporary entity in his statement. The following quote is an interesting statement from a President often misunderstood

“Wisdom often times consists of knowing what to do next.” Herbert Hoover

“Wisdom begins at the end.” Daniel Webster

So often spend time simply doing, not seeking; we spend time worrying about which path to travel or preparing our needs for the journey and worrying about the destination. We forget to go, and there we are, no better and no worse, only we are where we were to start. Among all things is the destination, but the destination is not necessarily the end but a point B of line AB, and still, there is C and D and E and much more. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and thoughts and always give thanks namaste.

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