What’s it take, for that light bulb to go on?

Bird Droppings September 10, 2020

What’s it take, for that light bulb to go on?

It has been nearly fourteen years since my doctorial cohort ended and we began the journey on our own. Most of us will have had a few classes or two together here and there and are into and are beginning and or finishing our dissertations in our own ways. I recall many months back we met for an advanced seminar and one of the readings was an Aldus Huxley book, Doors of our perception, which while not that many pages was a major part of the discussion. I am always intrigued when pieces of my time in existence seem just for me as several ideas within the book were significant as I look back.

However, our professor ended the session pointing at himself and mentioned how he has pursued intellectualism. Reading and expanding his own knowledge has been his pursuit and he mentioned several times how great it is to be a professor you get paid to read. I was thinking to high school students who we try and get to read and many college students as well. So often when you ask, what is your favorite book a response will be I do not read? Instilling that passion for knowledge should be our task rather than just testing for specific pieces of information.

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen

I have been thinking on this passage many days. I firmly believe even as we plan and set goals and agendas we are where we need to be at this moment. Is it so simple as we travel the pathways presented to us each day thinking we have choice and actually could be setting the direction? It has been a few years since I first looked at life as a journey. Since that first day however it has become a truly memorable one for me. Now I try to view each moment as I pass try and keep up with all the surroundings and trying to understand each piece of the puzzle as it falls in place. “Life is about the journey”, I have used many times in my writings.

“Thinking more than others about our own thoughts is not self-centeredness. It means that if asked what’s on our mind, we are less likely to mention being aware of the world around us, and more likely to mention our inner reflections. But we are less likely to mention thinking about other people.” Elaine N. Aron, Clinical Psychologist

I just took Dr. Aron’s quiz to see if I am a HSP highly sensitive person or not rather interesting. Website – http://www.hsperson.com/index.html, I tend to argue several issues within her test. I thrive on the interactions and emotions while the tests seem have this as a negative response.

“You live with your thoughts — so be careful what they are.” Eva Arrington

“If everybody thought before they spoke, the silence would be deafening.” George Barzan

Each day I spend a large portion of time trying to assist students in thinking. A simple thought yet rather difficult. Trying to encourage thought processes can be interesting as one student told me. “Mr. Bird why do we have to think it hurts my brain.” Sadly, I hear that several times a day.

“There are lots of people who cannot think seriously without injuring their minds.” John Jay Chapman

I keep a box of Band-Aids handy and have pulled them out occasionally for serious brain injury and surprise students with the offer when their brains hurt.

“No matter how hard you work for success if your thought is saturated with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts, neutralize your endeavors and make success impossible.” Baudjuin

“A thought which does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action which does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all.” Georges Bernanos

Thought processes are often bewildering. I was sitting here typing and thinking and went to type, Ge, and was thinking and spelling and got to Geo and couldn’t hit the “o” key I wanted to hit “r” but thought process and fingers got caught. I was looking at “o” and wanted to type “r”, actually paused for a second to rationalize.

“We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.” Buddha

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

Interesting as I look at these two remarks from several thousand years ago. Today psychologists will say the same thing. I say the same thing without quoting Buddha every day. But so many people do not really think about where there are.

“Man is what he believes.” Anton Chekhov

It is so difficult to explain this to students really to anyone. Yet great coaches around the country have been proving this for years. My youngest son is an avid sport trivia fan while still not on par with the great trivia authority and good friend Jimmy Hughes, my son is pretty good. He will ask many times who do I think is the greatest of all time NCAA coaches, usually though the question is “dad don’t you think Spurrier is the greatest of all time NCAA coaches”. I like it when he leaves me an out, he didn’t mention a sport and I can throw out John Wooden or Dan Gable or even more recent Paul Hewitt and really get him going. “Well what about Coach K then”, thinking though is the goal and that he does.

“The problem with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than their minds.” Walter Durant

“It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work.” Thomas A. Edison

I recall my middle son’s senior year. He was near the top in his class and always an excellent student. Due to scheduling he was unable to take the honors English course he wanted to and had to take regular senior English with the rest of humanity. He has a slug sitting next to him who every day would ask to copy his homework. My son got to where his responses were classic, one that stuck with me went something like this “We all make mistakes and in all honesty I truly believe this is all correct. But what if I am wrong and I allow you to copy and then you receive a failing grade and your life is ruined I will not be able to live with that. So no, I can not allow you to copy. If you fail I want it to be you who fail not me helping you too”.

“Humans have the ability to shift perspective. We can experience the world through our senses. Or we can remove ourselves from our senses and experience the world even less directly. We can think about our life, rather than thinking in our life. We can think about what we think about our life, and we can think about what we think about that. We can shift perceptual positions many times over.” John J. Emerick

Each moment is unique and each uniquely different. As we are wandering the pathways of life they can tire you. You might stop to sip a cup of water midst the turmoil of the day and to move on past the strife. Each day we have choices to make we have opportunity and we have disaster waiting. It is that light bulb going off like in the old cartons over our heads that makes the difference. Sitting in my sanctuary of writing room upstairs in the darkness of morning thinking and pondering as I say that makes the difference. As my moments draw down and it becomes time for stage two of today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

“The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the emotional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein

Searching for integrity midst the fogginess of reality

Bird Droppings September 9, 2020

Searching for integrity midst the fogginess of reality

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” Buddha

I watch the news and pundits lauding their integrity and truthfulness as they command a hundred thousand dollar speaking fees and first-class accommodations. Then I think to a Hindu holy man who sat for twenty-seven years with his arm upstretched in honor of Vishnu, one of his Gods. In America, we say it is the American way, and many will pay to see that star-struck speaker who has little or nothing of any significance. I look back at that crazy holy man who, after all those years of piety, can no longer use his arm and a bird nests in his hand and a faint smile comes to his face as he has been of use. Who do I respect there, in all honesty should not even be a question?

 Over two thousand years ago, another holy man walked about and taught us that we were to forgive our brothers. As their faith goes, he dies for all other’s sins so no one else would need to die. According to the writings that followed this faith, he was to be a blood sacrifice for all of humanity. A man who disdained wealth, war, injustice, and greed, and yet in today’s times, it is those very things that are driving forces within the faith that bears his name. How can we bastardize to the extent we have those founding concepts that were so far from where they have come?

“Character is higher than intellect.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If we are ever in doubt about what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.” John Lubbock

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” James D. Miles

I have noticed things as I hurry out to drive away from the house the past two mornings. A partial moon greets me and glowing away as I drive down the dark roads. Yesterday an Opossum scurried across the road, tail held high in defiance as she or he dashed across the road. Little known tidbit an opossum will consume 5000 ticks a season. A few yards further and an eastern box turtle was sitting near the edge of the road just looking. It was an odd time for a turtle to be out, especially on the highway, as I pulled to the stop sign. Looking behind as I went to stop, someone else saw the turtle and moved it to the grass. As it turns out, it was someone on a little tiny Vespa scooter, and coincidently, we both ended up at the corner store. So, I wonder at these synchronistic events looking back each only a brief second of my days, but each has stuck with me. Were there meaning and significance, or were these only events that would have happened even if I had not witnessed them?

A few summers ago, as I drove to a graduate class yesterday earlier in the morning, I stopped or planned to stop at a specific store. This store is unique as its parking lot edge goes then across a field into the mountains. It was designed, or I would like to think of taking pictures of sunrises. As it would have, a glorious sunrise was coming up as I pulled in. It was a fantastic sight in the five or six minutes, and nearly as quickly as it appeared, clouds and rain rolled in. I got in the car and headed again toward class only to have a rainbow across my pathway. A massive rainbow in front and sunrise behind me, and I thought a minute or two different, and I would have missed both.

“I thank thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.” Matthew Henry

“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” Thomas Paine

“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what’s right.” Isaac Asimov

Prior knowledge and or experiences, John Dewey refers to as a basis for education that is to be. We build off that base and add to it almost as if prior understandings are a foundation for further understanding. So, I argue what if someone lives with criticism will they be able to learn tolerance. If a child lives with hostility, will they ever be able to understand peace? If a child lives with ridicule, will they ever be able to understand or know praise? It is possible for a child who lives with shame ever to know forgiveness. I am loosely borrowing from Dr. Laura Nolte’s “Children Learn what they live” poem from 1971. As I ponder that aspect of prior understanding and look towards some of our current society’s politics, I do wonder how people learn to be so self-centered and greedy. In his last speech to the UN, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said capitalism is in its death throes as we build a class of ultra-wealthy on everyone else’s carcasses. I look at Wall Street, which has always amazed me and how fortunes are made owning nothing but paper and someone else’s desire to own that paper.

 Many people talk about and write about how our society is going downhill. As I watch and read, I often feel sociopathic and mentally ill are the driving forces in that rhetoric and those who reap fortunes on gossip and innuendo. Our local paper has a spin meter and sorts each day the political spin that follows each politician and each piece of legislation. We talk of repealing healthcare, and I wonder how many parents of severely ill children will want that now that insurance companies cannot dump them or exclude for preexisting conditions. I wonder how many breast cancer survivors will encourage their legislators to promote this plan as preventive medicine is given, and free mammograms are a part of the provisions. It all comes down to those with do not want to give up anything and see everyone else as a parasite. Sadly, we have come from an understanding world view to one of self-centeredness, and unfortunately, it appears we hold editions of that aloft.

“Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.” Aristotle

It has taken a long time to honor men and women who have shown bravery in combat. I recall some of the first Congressional Medal of Honor Winners awarded from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I wonder why many times we hold off on such events. I wonder why I see what I see, and others see nothing. I ponder daily why I can relate better to a Hindu holy man holding his arm aloft than to politician or former politician getting paid a small fortune to chatter on about a version of reality that only they see. It leaves me with my daily credo, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

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

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Is wisdom contagious?

Bird Droppings September 8, 2030
Is wisdom contagious?

I was reading in a friend’s blog about the Harry Potter series. She was addressing religious beliefs in her blog and how so many adhere verbatim to holy texts. As I read her blog which is rather good the ending was rather interesting.

“That doesn’t mean I’m waiting for my letter from Hogwarts to arrive by owl post any time soon… well, not really… looks out window for owl.” bluecollarmamma.wordpress.com

How we delineate which texts become holy is often a human contrivance. It might be that Harry Potter books in another thousand years will be considered gospel. I added a comment to her note on Facebook after I read her blog. Something to the effect that as we pulled out from our house yesterday morning a red-tailed hawk was sitting on the power line nearby watching me leave. As we left it flew away. On my wall is a red-tailed hawk feather that I found nearly twenty years ago. I often wonder as to how we formulate and postulate our understandings of our surroundings. In Native American thought the great mystery is often referred to as Wakan-Taka and is that aspect we cannot clearly define.

“The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.” Pierre Abelard

“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (the Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals and the third is that which is made between two nations. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.” Black Elk – Oglala Sioux

“He that never changes his opinions, never corrects his mistakes, and will never be wiser on the morrow than he is today.” Tryon Edwards

I think there is a bit of wisdom in all of us yet we often tend to put aside for ease of thinking. We follow others unquestioning and do as they do because it is so easy to not think. I watch the news of another mega church pastor who is being sued in civil court over some possible indiscretions. This is a man who lives in opulence all built on his twenty-five-thousand-member church preaching the word. We fall in line sadly in a world behind politicians who speak the best or offer the biggest possibility of promises that of course will be never kept.

“To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things. The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed, there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential. But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depth of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge. To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I wonder if some of these wealthy pastors would continue their preaching in a manner consistent with Bonhoeffer, one of the few Christians to die in Germany’s concentration camps. He died doing what he believed preaching against the Nazi regime and protecting Jews as the Nazi came looking for them. He is considered a great theologian and philosopher and he lived as he preached. As I read this passage how easy we get swept up in knowledge and perhaps lose the significance.

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” Plato

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

“We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” Samuel Smiles

Far too often we garble the message with too many words. Plato had it right there are many who talk simply to hear themselves talk. I often talk about how questions from four-year old’s are some of the best because they have not been subjected yet to others opinions and scrutiny. Children are silenced when we tell them they are wrong before they even ask the question. It does take failure to learn and to gain wisdom. Smiles points out what Edison would allude to in his quest for a light bulb in that he found ten thousand bulbs that did not work and one that did. I have not read as much of Gibran as I wish I had and am working on that.

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Kahlil Gibran

“A prudent question is one half of wisdom.” Francis Bacon

“Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, and is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a polluted mind, suffering will follow you, as the wheels of the oxcart follow the footsteps of the ox. Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, and is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you, as a shadow clings to a form.” Buddha

There is clarity in youth that muddles as we grow older. I see little children as containing wisdom only to lose it through interaction in society and then to slowly regain as they grow older and go through the process of being human. Some may retain pieces of that wisdom and not take as long to return back too that childlikeness. It is a circle much like the circle of life.

“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy…but anywhere is the center of the world.” Black Elk – Oglala Sioux

I have been reading and seeking to understand Black Elk for over forty years and each year I am able to know and understand more. Perhaps it is wisdom or errors along the way that led me back to the understanding of his words. Black Elk was a holy man who worked into his eighties in or around the reservation harvesting crops for farmers in the area. He was not gaudy or opulent in his life but humble with the power and understanding that he had. He was respected for his knowledge and wisdom and perhaps is a good point to stop today. I hope one day I will not have to end as I have for so long now. 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

Why we are not succeeding?

Bird Droppings September 6, 2020
Why we are not succeeding?

Early this morning I stepped outside into the pre-hurricane chill, a few crickets and tree frogs greeted me as I looked around in the darkness. The sky was clear as a bell stars blazing away over my head. Orion was the major force as I peered skyward. Never have quite figured out how someone came up with each of the constellations although perception perhaps is a key. I keep a drinking gourd by my computer, an artifact from Rabun County Georgia. Hold it up and you can see where the big dipper came from. My wife reminded me that our middle son’s birthday is coming up on the seventh of October even though my outlook calendar has it on the fourth. A simple error I need to fix since you get what you put in.

It has been nearly fourteen years since I went to see a Georgia Tech football game and as I often do, I took a camera. I adjusted the settings for the light. I set the film speed. I actually used film and not a digital camera so I had to be sure everything was set as I could not see photos till they were processed. I took pictures actually many pictures as I so often do. Not to brag but they did turn out super one or two are still floating around in Georgia Tech websites. My experience in using this camera and lens paid off. I knew what settings and what exposures would give me the best pictures and my reflecting begins.

In graduate schools we discuss the history of education and how history is so often has been tainted or subjected to the views of the historian and or politics of the time of that event and then the perspective of the historian, a double whammy. I began pushing this idea further and to how and what we learn. So often it is what we are told to learn not what we want to learn and or need to learn. It is but various pieces of reality in a perception of that we are told to learn and I wonder for whose gain.

“Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know — and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know — even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction — than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.” Isaac Asimov

I have Neil Young blaring away on my iPhone having hearing aids linked to phone has its advantages I can crank up my tunes. “Old man take a look at your life I am a lot like you are”, lyrics from Neil Young circa 1971 when he bought a ranch and an elderly foremen came with it. On another thought it amazes me to listen to students say I am passing I have a seventy percent and that’s good enough. I sometimes wonder if students really learn anything from day one till day seven hundred or eight hundred or do they simply regurgitate data and information to pass tests. It has been a few years since my son commenting as he took the SAT’s several times the more he was in math classes the better his scores and conversely one semester he did not have an advanced or AP English he dropped a few points on language section. So even for a good student is school simply a memorizing forum.

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

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

I found when I began looking for answers that learning became easier. When answers were being given to me in a mandatory sort of way in the process of going to school I learned less. Even in college for many years learning was considered mandatory. I have observed many students and what they learn. If they want to learn a topic they read about it, they look up information about it, and there is a desire to learn more about that topic.

“The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein

For many years previously, I have tacked this quote on the end of my morning Droppings. I continue to ponder how can we make our teaching so potent? How do we get the information we teach to be what students want to learn?

“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of face within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity” Calvin Coolidge

“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 have not always been an Emerson fan sadly I wish I had begun reading his words sooner or I should say paying attention to the fact I was reading his words. In high school I do not recall even considering reading Emerson and know I did sort of see the page and it went by and I read Emerson. Now in my infinite wisdom do I see the folly of my high school days? Hindsight is only good if you build from it however. As we look back it is so easy to say I wasted time or I should have done this or that. Start today and take advantage of the daylight pack as much in as you can for tomorrow there will be just as much if not more coming your way in the next.

As I think back a few days ago to reading about the concept of a democratic school where students pick and choose topics for discussion and learning each week and in some ways, learning is up to them.

It would be difficult to plan for a standardized test, especially thinking did we cover that for example (in Georgia we had QCC’s (Quality Core Curriculum) and now we have advanced a bit with GPS (Georgia Performance Standards) which will cover all curriculum that is to be taught. Being so we might have that section II item number 123a is the classification of segmented worms which is to be covered. Somewhere someone determined in Biology that that item was crucial. It may be a history item about the urban myth of were George Washington’s false teeth made from wood, hippo ivory and or ceramics.

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.” St. Francis of Assisi

“Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.” Sophocles

How would we know what it is we need to know and how would teachers know what it is we need to know in order to teach us? That is a significant question. Using standardized tests provides the vehicle to measure, but then do we teach to that particular test or do we not teach to it and is that measure truly a measure of what a child knows? If most teachers know what students need to know to take a particular test before I start the class then I will gear the class to that understanding before the test. So, in effect we teach to the test. We teach what someone somewhere has deemed necessary for a student in that grade and time and that may or may not be what that teacher or student wants to learn. This brings me back to students tend to learn best when it is something that they want to know and realistically teachers teach far more better something they want to teach.

It would be a sad world if parents were told they had to teach their kids so and so today and tomorrow it would be this and that. Now that I think about it maybe that is not so bad in some cases. Except that then someone somewhere will be saying this is what children will be taught and when it will be taught. That system just closed down in Russia a few years back. So if our goal is to train socially acceptable consumers and workers to fill the factories as Karl Marx once indicated the goal of education was we will have accomplished that. Somehow, we need to bring back creativity and critical thinking.

“If you wish to know the road up the mountain, ask the man who goes back and forth on it.” Zenrim

I can set my lenses and camera on manual adjustment and or on program mode. I could fine tune and adjust and or set on program mode and allow the camera’s computer to do adjusting for me. I started to think about the P words, program, perception and politics although maybe there is a connection as I think a bit more. So often in life politics determines how we perceive by providing the program setting and far too many people choose to use that since it is easier and simpler. It requires little effort and you always get the same results no matter who uses it. Could it be that in learning the same material the results on a test is the same no matter who takes it. They all conveniently know just the right stuff and just the right answers and just who to vote for and to keep in power. So, on a day when war and conflict are part of our vernacular and those in power struggle to keep their seats 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

It takes more than one strand to make a rope, in life and education.

Bird Droppings September 5, 2020

It takes more than one strand to make a rope, in life and education.

“You cannot contribute anything to the ideal condition of mind and heart known as Brotherhood, however much you preach, posture, or agree, unless you live it.” Faith Baldwin

Every day as I talk to teachers and or students, I try and set an example, and not always am I successful. But as I think this beautiful almost fall morning getting up slower today than average and relaxing perhaps too much, I am finally getting into a rhythm. So, I am sitting here trying to decide if I should work on writing a paper later today or be lazy. I thought I would take a few moments to write. In the end, knowing in an hour or two, I would be headed to school, a few minutes of writing won out. Since I have been lazy about writing over the weekend, essentially sitting around with my leg propped up, I can hopefully go back to a walking cast. Many of the people I talk to everyday stand-alone, often due to their choosing.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” John Donne

It has been several years since I experimented with a group of young people using sewing thread. I had a thread for each person, and then I asked each of them to break the thread, which was simple and easily done.

“The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.” James Baldwin

After breaking the threads, I gave each of them another piece of thread, and one by one, we joined the threads together. In the end, we had a thirty strand or piece of string/rope, and we twisted it slightly to keep threads together.

“In union, there is strength.” Aesop

“Remember, upon the conduct of each depends on the fate of all.” Alexander the Great

Amazingly enough, no one could break the new combined rope even when several folks pulled on each end, it would not break.

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” Bahá’u’ lláh

I still carry that piece of string/rope in my wallet. It surely does make a great example when talking to students actual most anyone.

“I look to a time when brotherhood needs no publicity, to a time when a brotherhood award would be as ridiculous as an award for getting up each morning.” Daniel D. Michiel

It has been a few years back that I attended a demonstration up in Mountain City, Georgia. The lecturer at the Foxfire Museum used a couple of folks in the group and had them twisting and turning six strands of twine into a rope.

“Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” Mahatma Gandhi

Real unity is the question, and in today’s politically charged atmosphere, unity is not to be found. I had shown my students so many years ago that even though having multiply strands of thread all together in a bundle was significantly stronger each time you cut a piece; it weakened Exponentially.

“In all things that are purely social, we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” Booker T. Washington

“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.” Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

When I can I sit outside in my garden and back yard, I think about and ponder what I have I witnessed, the differences in attitude and differences in brotherhood in the world. Many are similar, and in a high school, that old cliché of school spirit is generally a good indicator of brotherhood’s semblance, a joining force in humanity’s body. But still, there are strands of thread dangling outside, weakening the whole.

“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” Virginia Burden, The Process of Intuition

I will never say everyone has to be identical. I like Booker T. Washington’s statement of each of being a finger yet still being able to be a hand. I used to think it was cool when I saw a six-fingered person, and in my old stomping grounds of Lancaster and Chester counties, you would often see an Amish fellow with an extra finger. There was a recent ad where everyone was upset with Joe, who had extra fingers because he could type so much faster and then do so much more; the ad showed him typing away and multi-tasking with his extra fingers. But the ad was also about to change, and new equipment equalized the office space. So often, we cannot accept the differences.

“I have often noticed that when chickens quit quarreling over their food, they often find that there is enough for all of them. I wonder if it might not be the same with the human race.” Don Marquis

In life, far too often, we spend our time fretting over differences and not looking for similarities. How can we work as a group a team? I watched college football Saturday for a few minutes and a jubilant football crowd at a football game. In the end, teamwork makes all the difference in a win or loss. The winner is not always the better team. Still, better collaboration will win, and it can be only a minute difference; a single strand could change a game and or life.

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” Kenyan Proverb

Interestingly, while I was writing about unity, and I still believe in individuality, I am a very monastic person, after all, and it is a difficult task. I come back to Booker T. Washington’s quote; I can be a thumb and still work as a hand when needed. It is in believing and in trusting, we gain that unity and that brotherhood. Watching the schools now working on homecoming and various rallies keep coming up, why all the negative why not work together, the problems are here, and solutions can be had if there were teamwork. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

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

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Ponderingerest is that even a word?

Bird Droppings September 3, 2020

Ponderingerest is that even a word?

Coming up are some interesting days. One is interesting and yet solemn day; a day marked by dark memories; nineteen years ago, I started teaching again after a twenty-three-year layoff, thirty-one years ago, we brought a new baby home. So many memories are coming up this week. I sat down at my computer with a song lyric whispering through my thoughts. I sang out the lyric and my wife commented it was on Tom Petty radio yesterday in a tribute to Bob Dylan. A simple line. It was perhaps triggered by two passing Facebook posts. One a classmate from high school had passed away, and the other a reference to telling a woman you look your age. I am always pondering granted back issues, and leg issues deflect a bit, but pondering is a way of life for me.

“Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats too noble to neglect. Deceived me into thinking I had something to protect. Good and bad, I define these terms quite clear, no doubt, somehow. Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now” Bob Dylan 

I recall that my first day of teaching nineteen years ago with much of spent in lockdown and confused about what was going on. It was many days later; I thought about that day I came back to teaching. I just sent a note to one of my first students in that class I was locked in for several hours. Charles Beard was a historian and often a controversial one at that it is said he commented that Roosevelt brought the US into World War II for economic recovery. Interestingly historically, that has been the case several times over as to why we go to war. When I first looked at his quote, I was thinking about little children, especially my grandkids, being afraid of the dark and night time, and several times when out with youth and trying to ease fears of darkness, I have used stars as a focal point. It does have to be dark to see the stars.

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Charles A. Beard

Often in life, we lose sight of the stars until trials and tribulations show in contrast, and we again can view our own stars. Folk’s they are there today with all that is going on the news about Syria and another potential war, it is often hard to see and remember the shining stars but rest assured they are there and will be shining when we need to see them. I have been writing and thinking about this day for some time. Yesterday in response to my Bird dropping, I would like to share from a dear friend who I used thought from just a day or so ago.

“You know, Frank, Viet Nam doesn’t seem that long ago, but it was. I’m a Viet Nam combat vet; was Navy but served for two temporary assignments with the First Radio Battalion, Third Marine Amphibious Force in the I Corps (Da Nang, the northern part). I was essentially a marine. It continues to be amazing to me how an experience of war is interpreted differently by different folks. I was running a security communications operation and was calling in the ArcLight Raids, precision bombing (for then) with the B-52s. I guess you could say I never saw the ones I was killing … I do believe my work saved the lives of many of our troops. (They gave me a medal for it; can you believe that?) What’s right, and what’s wrong? When you lose a friend, you want to kill them all. Even today, the flag-folding at a casket tears me up. All of this to say that, from the standpoint of being veterans who can still function a little, the Viet Nam guys are “old” vets now. I want the world to know they’re NOT all drunks and drug addicts. You jarred some memories, my friend. A different place … a different time.” Jim, Dr. James D. Sutton, Clinical Psychologist, and National recognized speaker and authority on Conduct Disorders

I was writing yesterday about my hatred of war and its destruction. As I grew up listening to my father’s stories of WWII and today looking at old photos he had, images of the attack on Iwo Jima where many thousands of American soldiers died and tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers perished makes me wonder about war. Many of my friends from high school and college are Viet Nam vets, and often in communications comments are made, and I have the utmost regard for these men and women who served in a time so many have forgotten. Many of those same friends died in a country they never really understood for reasons that have changed over time.

This week we will look at the anniversary of an attack on our country. Does this change my perception of war and revenge not at all? There is still nothing solved in retaliation. True a great sigh of relief came when Osama Bin Laden was killed by Seal Team Six. At that moment, I was more concerned about my nephew in law who serves in the teams, than the fact Bin Laden was killed. My thoughts today are rekindling many images from different people. Hope and fear both rise to the top of the barrel.

“The trouble with justifying your violence, your hate, your profitable destruction through your subjective sense of victimization is a)the chain of violence can go on forever b)everyone, since no one has a monopoly on suffering, can use victimization to then justify practically anything for an indefinite amount of time and violence and c)as vengeance only retaliates never returns, there will never be an end to the justification of your violence, and as such your violence itself.” Manny Jalonschi, Publisher at American Ex Pat Books

I have known and been reading Manny’s blogs and thoughts for several years now, and this one caught me in my pondering state. I posted the following response.

“When raised in Judeo-Christian understanding of an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, it is hard to separate out the revenge aspect of the equation and throw in staunch capitalism which a long time ago gave up on the Koinonia (community) of early Christianity in favor of greed and profit and ran roughshod over indigenous peoples worldwide. Seriously what is to be expected? Sadly, how many kids are raised today without a neutral historical understanding of where they came from?” Frank Bird III, Ed. S. D.D.

Over the past few days, several friends have made comments to me about my choice of a political party and or Representatives. I find it interesting as while in many ways what they see as wrong, they have no way other than saying it will take care of itself if we get rid of this or this program.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

I pondered most of the week listening to the rhetoric of warmongering, border walls, capitalism, and the government’s handouts and healthcare problems. I grieve with and honor those who died in the heinous attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon eighteen years ago, but I also say retaliation is never a solution. We have retaliated for eighteen years, and that has nearly destroyed our country’s soul.

“To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or of principle.” Confucius

I honestly wonder, borrowing from Gandhi, “An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind”, how long we can continue and not lift up and move ahead. I have worked with and taught numerous autistic children over the years. Dr. Temple Grandin is considered to be one of the leading authorities on animal and livestock handling in the world. She has designed and engineered seventy-five percent of the commercial livestock handling facilities for commercial packers in the United States. She has been recognized by animal rights groups for her ethical treatment in design and development and has written college texts on animal science. She also is considered a world leader in autism, perhaps because Dr. Grandin is autistic herself.

“I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words out, so I would just scream. I can remember this very clearly.” Dr. Temple Grandin

In recent years, more and more children are being diagnosed as autistic. As I read the words that applied directly to herself as she grew up frustrated with a world that only heard her screaming and never her words, I thought of those often less fortunate than ourselves who have no voice. We tend to silence many people through political maneuvering and redrawing lines and forgetting to advertise the new laws of needing photo identification to vote. I watched several political debates and speeches this past week, and Dr. Temple Grantin’s words again hit me.

“People are always looking for a single magic bullet that will totally change everything. There is no single magic bullet. I was very lucky to receive very well early intervention with excellent teachers, starting at age two and a half. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher. A good teacher is worth his or her weight in gold. Some teachers have a knack for working with autistic children. Other teachers do not have it. If you find a good teacher, hang on to him or her tight.” Dr. Temple Grandin

Yesterday or the day before many days lately have run together, I had an issue with my upstairs air conditioning a few months back. The thermostat was stuck at eighty-five degrees. I poked at it, fiddled with it, no change. At one point, even said call the air conditioning guy. But two nights ago, I walked upstairs with a screwdriver and popped the cover off and low and behold batteries. Two new Duracell triple A’s, and the air is working again. On that same note, an article on bacteria in the gut and autism caught my attention yesterday. How simple is that? Autistic children often have dietary issues, and a study showed significantly different bacteria in the gut of autistic children actually fewer bacteria of a right kind. Granted, it was only an article, but how simple is that if a reality.

On a day of pondering, I wish we never have to go through this again. I offer as a solution that if we keep our eyes and ears open, we can find open-minded great teachers. We can resolve issues before going to war, and all children can have the opportunity to succeed and learn and never be silent again. Last night we received as staff an email that our board of education tabled a proposed by superintendent change to high school scheduling going from four block to seven block all in the name of rigor. Ask any teacher about this, and the answer is what? 

A newspaper article ran erroneous information about testing and four block and how math scores would improve. Nothing was said about a ridiculous math curriculum and constant changes and a test that in trials fifty percent or more failed. But changing our schedules would cure it. No one mentioned fifteen to twenty percent of high school teachers would be let go, and there would be no electives for students. So, I sit back ponder a moment more, and as I have for so many years now asked, 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

 It is about understanding

Bird Droppings September 2, 2020

 It is about understanding

 

I read a student’s psychological report years back who could decode most any word put in front of them. The confusion comes when trying to tell you what was read. The two components of reading, decoding, and comprehension are needed to be a successful reader. As I thought of how many students I see each day like this particular one. I asked if they can read, and of course, they can and show you reading aloud brilliantly. As the quiz comes around or even a question and they draw a blank. As a rule, high school teachers are not looking for learning issues simply students learning the subject being taught. So many students slip through the cracks of high school with poor reading skills. If only we could catch and remedy early on?

 

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to understand and forgive. “Dale Carnegie

 

I wrote a few days ago about forgiveness, which we tend to forget about far too often. As I finished my day out last of a three-day holiday yesterday, another issue came to the front. Seldom do we take time to understand. As I talked with my students through each period of the day, little things came out that many times we overlook. What if a student’s parents have just divorced, or a sibling is sick, perhaps an eviction from their home and in one situation a death in the family. As a teacher, I try and be aware of what is going on in my student’s lives, but many times students and people, in general, will not post of Facebook or some other social network but hold it in? Looking for little clues and taking a student aside to ask a question or two without prying sometimes will give insight into perhaps some underlying issue that is impacting that child that day.

 

“Keep constantly in mind in how many things you have witnessed changes already. The universe is changing, life is understanding.” Marcus Aurelius, 121 ADE

 

“The best cure for worry, depression, melancholy, brooding, is to go deliberately forth and try to lift with one’s sympathy the gloom of somebody else.” Arnold Bennett

 

“Man is always inclined to be intolerant towards the thing, or person, he hasn’t taken the time adequately to understand…” Robert R. Brown

 

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow-men, and along those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” Herman Melville, 1819

 

Life is about understanding and interaction. It is the interconnections that make us who we are. Occasionally I will offer this is where we find the word soul. In my years of writing, I have discussed my symbolic concept of life as a jigsaw puzzle. I see that we are much like a puzzle with countless pieces falling into place, each intricate and numerous. The pieces interconnect and eventually give us our life’s purpose and provide a fuller understanding of it. I am starting to get a bit metaphysical, but I do have a doctorate in metaphysics at least, that is what the paper on my wall states.

 

“Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief in denying them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803

 

“Find peace with yourself by accepting not only what you are, but what you are never going to be.” Author Unknown

 

“Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third.” Marge Piercy

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.” Kahlil Gibran

 

“The one who understands does not speak; the one who speaks does not understand.” Chinese Proverb

 

As I gathered quotes for this subject, it always seems I can find or fit in a Ralph Waldo Emerson statement. Somewhere along the way, I listed him as someone I would like to meet. I see Emerson’s view of the soul more in line with Special Agent Gibbs’ gut feeling as he investigates a crime. It is that aspect of us where we know. Many people avoid and or deny that part of who they are. 

 

It is difficult for anyone to admit they will never be something. In America, we are raised; we can accomplish anything. Teaching special education, I do my best to keep high expectations of my students. Still, as days go by, weeks and months, even with constant focus and attention, there are times when cognition, imagination, and life experiences will get the best of a student, and they will reach a plateau that may go on forever. Even within that seemingly halt in progression, more can be done, but each step and piece of the puzzle gets harder to find and harder yet to fit in. One of their puzzle pieces is the sixteen hours away from school time enough to forget and lose what gains were made in the previous eight hours. Gibran brings my heart and soul back to try again with his philosophical optimism. The last quote could be from Luther Standing Bear or Chief Joseph as they discuss how Native Americans find wisdom in silence.

 

“And in the midst of sorrow, sickness, death or misfortune of any kind and in the presence of the notable and great, the silence was the mark of respect. More powerful than words was silence with the Lakota.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

 

“It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand, and what those things are. Human understanding has vulgarly occupied itself with nothing but understanding, but if it would only take the trouble to understand itself at the same time it would simply have to posit the paradox. “Soren Kierkegaard

 

I find it interesting that philosophers often are victims of their advice. Much of philosophy is looking for understanding or rationale for our existence. Kierkegaard put a twist on it, saying that is all humankind has done is look for understanding and yet forget to understand ourselves. I was nearly thirty-five, almost forty until I truly began finding who I was. I had been listening to others’ opinions of or other’s interpretation of who I was but never looked into my own heart and soul. It was walks earlier in the morning that helped me settle into a clear view of who I was. I would walk each morning in the wee hours under the stars with a good friend who was at that time in seminary. We would discuss philosophy, theology, education, and life in general as we walked five miles each day.

 

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.” Kahlil Gibran

 

“I hear and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do and I understand.” Confucius

 

“It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.” Harry S. Truman

 

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” Galileo Galilei

 

These thoughts are a mix in this effort to figure out understanding. I liked the first quote of Gibran in that it is what we are searching for more than where we have been, that is crucial. The prime component of education is Confucius’s contribution, for it is through doing that we also truly learn. Had to get some John Dewey in except that it was a thousand years before Dewey that man realized what Dewey preached that experience is the greatest teacher. While I have never been a big Truman fan this statement from the former president is a powerful one. The great scientist Galileo offers that it is in a discovery that we find truth and understanding. For me, that is the one that gave me a clearer view of this idea of understanding. It is not in seeking an exact definitive point, but it is that aspect of seeking to know that provides the fuel and tools for understanding.

 

“This concept of life and its relations with humanizing, and gave to the Lakota an abiding love. It filled his being with joy and mystery of living; it gave him reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

 

Perhaps in the world, the view of Natives is an answer. Sometimes acceptance was a key and reverence for life, along with knowing the puzzle pieces fit together rather than random parts of nothing as some people seem to think in today’s society. As a day runs its course, I will end this discourse and again plead that we each search our souls and keep all in harm’s way on our minds and in our hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

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

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Looking for the right words in a new morning

Bird Droppings September 1, 2020

 Looking for the right words in a new morning

 

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands.” Robert M. Pirsig, American author

 

“Robert Maynard Pirsig September 6, 1928 – April 24, 2017, was an American writer and philosopher. He was the author of the philosophical novels Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (1974) and Lila: An Inquiry into Morals.” Wikipedia Just thought I would share that tidbit along the way. Many times, I saw his book on my sojourns through bookstores. Whether it is trying to offer a few words of condolence to friends whose loved one has passed away or trying to sort out the disaster somewhere in the world and today here near home in Georgia, we all need to look within first. When I read this line from Pirsig earlier this morning, I immediately thought of my 4H days and the 4H and 4H clover pledge. 

 

“The 4-H Clover symbolizes four actions which 4-H members try to accomplish. The four H s’ stand for Head, Hands, Heart, Health, as it is in the pledge. I Pledge My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger service and My Health to better living for my Club my Community my Country and my World” Taos County 4H site.

 

I wish we could get each citizen of our country truly engaged in that pledge, whether it is a 4H member or just because it is a good practice. Imagine what would happen, disasters would be resolved and often averted, we would each be “better” as citizens, and friends all over a simple admonition. As I look clearer thinking, greater loyalty, more extensive service, and better living, these are all compelling and exciting thoughts. There are days when I wish more kids were able to be exposed to 4H.

 

Sitting here, having read the news earlier it is disheartening to try and determine what course of action each of us can take to help if we can at all. Not sure there is unbiased news left in the world, like history, which is rewritten to meet the need for politics. I recall a few years back an incident in New Jersey. A flag-covered story of a young man killed by Muslim terrorists not being covered by news caught my attention, so I researched. In the previous weekend, eight human beings were gunned down by a man running from police for a broken turn signal. Out in the Gulf of Mexico, a raging hurricane is destroying the Bahamas while I write. 

 

Today a year ago or so in New Jersey, four or more teenagers died in car accidents, a dog killed one, one teenager was killed by a train, at least six were killed by gunshots assuming them to be Christians. Since no religion is mentioned that fired the guns, one was killed by a Muslim serial killer who was being sought for four other murders in Washington State. The insane Muslim got National news coverage. I find it very sad that when you google teenagers killed in New Jersey, the rest are there. News can be biased. I wonder if, in New Jersey, teenagers killed in Atlanta are plastered behind flags as untold news. Sorry for ranting, but the key point is we are so jaded to all killings and violence. People supported a pro-football player who beat a woman in an elevator, and we say that’s just how it is. It doesn’t have to be. We have become callous and selfish as a society I can no longer call us a culture. I hope we can one day come to grips with how we have become so self-centered as a society. 

 

Over the announcements before school was out last year at the high school, I listened to what various groups and clubs are doing at our school. The kids in our high school have raised several thousands of dollars through various activities over the years. Much of that in bits and pieces of lunch money dropped in buckets and or fund raisers such as washing cars. I recall dunking a coach or two in one of the efforts. There was a tug of war. I wish we could do more, but each struggle, each dime or nickel, is a little more. I wish we could all summon the courage to do more.

 

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmoon

 

I thought I would end with this line; courage is a word used often with little thought. I understand the tying of the term to fear that is an interesting definition. Stating that courage merely realizes there are more important things in life than being afraid or cautious is a powerful thought. I recall when my wife and I went to South Carolina over a weekend to visit our middle son and his fiancée at that time. It was our first chance to see the church where they were getting married and her horses at their family farm out in the South Carolina countryside. We spent Saturday evening at a wedding shower and Sunday visiting all over the beautiful South Carolina farm country discussing horses, plants, always Georgia Tech, experiences and who knows what else. 

 

How much do we learn about a person in a few moments depends on each person’s ability, honesty, and trust? It was a great afternoon, joking and laughing and picking on each other. As always, we called when we got home that night telling everyone we were safely home in Georgia, and my tiny granddaughter, not even a year old at the time, was mad at me when we got home. Even the John Deere T-shirt and the soft plush puppy did not make a dent. Although after her grandma held her for a minute, she decided she wasn’t mad anymore and gave me a great big good night hug. Sometimes I miss that feeling. A good night hug from a grandchild always cures what ails you. 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

Sometimes history is a teacher and for others only a memory

Bird Droppings August 31, 2020

Sometimes history is a teacher and for others only a memory

 

The anniversary of a day that will be a scar on our nation’s history is soon upon us.  On September 15, 1963 an explosion tore through the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, it was a Sunday. People had gathered for church four young girls were killed twenty-two others injured. FBI investigations led to four members of the Ku Klux Klan who had planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device beneath the front steps of the church. The event in days after was described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.”

 

Over the next ten years one of the suspects was tried and convicted and after fifty years two others were tried and convicted the fourth individual died before a conviction occurred. I was teaching a college class on US History four years back and mentioned this in class. By chance my class was entirely nonwhite. We were discussing the end of World War Two and Harry Truman’s decision to drop the Atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sitting there discussing with my class an event that I could not justify in my own philosophy of life, the shear destruction of life in one single event knowing what has come from that bomb in future years. History has a way of leading to wisdom yet on so many issues we tend to simply push aside what we could learn.

 

Recently I had the mother of three former students tell me how much her sons and daughter thought of me while I was going into my current favorite store, Kroger. So here I am sitting at my computer pondering in the quiet on a Sunday morning during Labor Day weekend. We all need ego stroking at one time or another. I recalled back to when I had those particular students in class and how difficult a time it was and yet so often when we pay attention to a student, or too a friend we do not realize how much we are truly affecting that person. Many times, it is years later as is the case with this parent commenting to me a few nights ago as I walked in the store.

 

“I reach down and touch the delicate leaf of a plant. My friend’s words rise up in my heart. ‘Everything lives, everything dies, and everything leans to the light.’ If I only knew this it would be enough.” Kent Nerburn, Small Graces

 

When we show a bit of light to an individual they turn just as the plant will slowly turn to face the light in many ways that person will as well. I recall a few years ago one of my students requested to be in my resource class all day, I really did not want them all day, but he responded how I did things made sense to him. Friendship so often is like sunlight. I started replacing my overhead lights a few years ago with grow lights. Actually, the color is so much easier to deal with and colors of things are more real than the sickening yellow of standard fluorescent bulbs.

 

“Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.” St. Thomas Aquinas

 

How do we support friends and throw sunlight their way, maybe simple things, quiet things, a touch, a smile, an email.

 

“Friendship is one of the most tangible things in a world which offers fewer and fewer supports.” Kenneth Branagh

 

“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.” Robert Brault

 

A few days ago, I printed out several pictures, two were of owls that were in effect clay turned jug owls, made by a folk potter from north Georgia. I met Grace Nell Hewell who was the matriarch of a family of potters in Gillsville Georgia years ago. She was potter from a family that had been at same location turning pots for a living for six generations.  I dropped them off in my friend’s room two years ago, no reason really just for being a friend, she used to teach art and talked about potters in her sculpture class; sometimes we just do simple things. My dear friend passed away and I recalled lending her my pottery owls.

 

“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend — or a meaningful day.” Dalai Lama

 

“I do then with my friends as I do with my books. I would have them where I can find them, but I seldom use them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

So much of my life while when I retired was monastic. I was by myself most of the day. I enjoy interacting but I also enjoy my tranquil time thoughts.  When I am speaking of friends often I will say I really do not have that many friends one or two and usually a name or two will scroll through my head. Yet when I am walking about in life there are few who I do not truly consider friends. I sit back in my chair at school typing away at my computer a row of books put together recently when a friend of my sons took interest in an area of thought I have been following for several years. Behind me shelves of books, theology, education, psychology, literature and poetry surround the walls and directly in front of me a quote.

 

“A very powerful axe in a master’s hand accomplishes much, that same in the hands of            a child nothing.” Edited by A.J. Russell, from Gods Calling

 

Emerson would have to be one of my heroes and I always seem to have something from him at my fingertips often paraphrased a bit; friends are like books, you have them there on a shelf sort of waiting for the need or specific instance that you will have. I ran into a friend from school as I went shopping at the grocery store, she said she hates to go grocery shopping and will try and go once a month. I go daily, to see my friends I never know who I might meet, coincidences. Yesterday I went for a few items and a student who was absent was there riding his skate board we talked, another inside, a friend whom I have known for years was also shopping. So often my wife warns me as I walk in don’t stop and talk to all of your friends you will be all day.

 

“Give me work to do, give me health, give me joy in simple things, give me an eye for beauty, A tongue for truth, A heart that loves, A mind that reasons, A sympathy that understands. Give me neither malice nor envy, But a true kindness and a noble common sense. At the close of each day give me a book and a friend with whom I can be silent.” S. M. Frazier

 

How do we as friends support each other midst the turmoil of life and tribulations of simply walking the face of the earth, how do we support each other as we struggle to cross the stream with the rocks slippery and wet.

 

“Friendship needs no words…” Dag Hammarskjold

 

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine.” Thomas Jefferson

 

A seldom heard phrase, a seldom whispered thought, and a seldom thought idea is only seldom responded too, so then do it, as NIKE says and or be a friend.

 

“The real test of friendship is: Can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you enjoy together those moments of life that are utterly simple? They are the moment’s people look back on at the end of life and number as their most sacred experiences.” Eugene Kennedy

 

As I finish up this dropping and in the course of the last hour or so thoughts of friends not just one or two that I would attest to but ever so many that I see and talk too every day each moment and email. Some are in college and I will see once a year or two maybe some I have not seen in several years and simple correspond daily in email and of course social media. Still others share my home and some I see each day as I walk the halls at school or sit in the hall way observing and listening as folks go by. Friendship is a cement to build a life on as we travel from here to there, friends are everywhere. Sitting back that sort of sounds like Dr. Seuss, so today justice to all and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

I am told, there is a reason.

Bird Droppings August 29, 2020

I am told, there is a reason.

 

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” Robert Byrne

 

I often wonder about this idea, as have so many before me and will after I am gone. Philosophers wonder, and wise men ponder, is their purpose, a reason for each of our existences. Over the years, numerous books and articles show the intertwining and interconnecting of lives, and reality, have been written and reflected on by many great thinkers. I have seen the interplay daily of my own experience with others in the school where I teach and my family and friends.

 

“To have no set purpose in one’s life is the harlotry of the will.” Stephen MacKenna

 

“Great minds have purposes; others have wishes.” Washington Irving

 

Many thinkers of one school of thought consider that we go at life with a purpose; however, it is a cognitively involved rationale for existence. This is control of self, of the mind within the individual, and it is that is where that purpose exists and is carried out.

 

“We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years and justify our existence… on pain of liquidation.” George Bernard Shaw

 

Shaw perhaps goes a bit far, but daily, do we not have to justify our existence as we interact and are involved with others in this reality?

 

“An “unemployed” existence is a worse negation of life than death itself.” José Ortega y Gasset

 

So often, I see children and adults, both wandering with really no purpose. Sadly I see this, yet could there be more to it than a self-motivated purpose and self-imposed rational process that provides all answers?

 

“A useless life is an early death.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Are we subject each of us to others’ opinions as to why we are here, or is this an individualistic program of deliberation of each person finding their independent reason? Is there an over blanket of purpose, perhaps some ethereal veil that shrouds us all in purpose?

 

“I love the valiant, but it is not enough to wield a broadsword, one must also know against whom.” Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Perhaps a bit deep, but Nietzsche always is as he is drawing his illustration to that of knighthood. It is one thing to be a knight but is their purpose if there is no opposition or no foe to defeat.

 

“When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” Seneca

There is a compass, directional beacon, sense of whom and where we are in the world within each of us. That driving force, that searching for the harbor could be our purpose in life and existence?

 

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” George Bernard Shaw

 

A bit dramatic and direct Shaw draws the difference between seeking self-indulgence versus a higher goal in our search.

 

“To have a grievance is to have a purpose in life.” Alan Coren

 

Seeing fault can be just having a different opinion or a different view and then asking why. These, too, are aspects of our makeup that provide individualism and uniqueness to our days.

 

“Men, like nails, lose their usefulness when they lose direction and begin to bend.” Walter Savage Landor

 

Life is a journey; how many times have I use that phrase? I think I do so literally daily as I talk with students, teachers, parents, and friends. Each facet of the puzzle is as complex and crucial to the whole as the next. We each have a purpose and have meaning. Far too often, we underestimate who and what we are. We demean ourselves in self-pity and doubt. I will use the illustration of a puzzle, a magnificent jigsaw puzzle with millions of pieces. Each of the pieces has many facets, each more intricate than the next. They are all falling into place within this life. Occasionally, we see the connections, but more so than not, we see the puzzle piece’s gray backing.

 

“We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Life is much like a great play unfolding, although many times we never do see the script till the act is over. As we start a new week and with so much turmoil both here and abroad, please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts namaste.

 

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

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird