Looking for the passion

Bird Droppings August 18, 2011
Looking for the passion
“All games have an important and probably decisive influence on the destinies of the players under ordinary social conditions; but some offer more opportunities than others for life long careers and are more likely to involve innocent bystanders.” Dr. Eric Berne, The games people play
In a recent note I had written down a thought. Why are you passionate about your job? I started thinking and yes perhaps as I think I obsess too much. I may ponder as I call it over trivial thoughts for some meaningless dribble, little shadows that many simple never see. Can you be passionate about something any other way? Yesterday I filled in a form for a young man who was very obsessive in so much of his life, obsessive to a point of distraction from reality many times.
If you mention Jeff Gordon’s number and his eyes would light up and statistics would flow about this NASCAR race or that and this sponsor or that and soon you would wish you never mentioned Jeff Gordon. It is funny since you used that to get from another subject that he had been obsessed on. Technically it is called Obsessive compulsive Disorder or OCD. Could I see passion in that obsession or is there obsession in passion.

“All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.” Chief Seattle, recorded by Dr. Henry Smith, 1854

So often in life we do or say things that seemingly are independent thoughts sort of random utterances that mean only a bit to us as we pass in that moment. Yet the ripples the effects and flow of direction from that utterance can carry and evolve far beyond that moment. As in a game where one person manipulates a piece and often the other parties involved are unaware of strategy and plan and soon there is nothing left. I think back to that obsession and what may be said in meaningless thought pursuing a thought an idea that is driven from some physiological mechanism we do not control. Could it be that passion is mistaken for that an errant whisper and dream an obsession on a simple concept that is mistaken as true passion.

“Passion and prejudice govern the world, only under the name of reason.” John Wesley

“Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart! Else it may be their miserable fortune, when some mightier touch than their own may have awakened all her sensibilities, to be reproached even for the calm content, the marble image of happiness, which they will have imposed upon her as the warm reality.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

It was perhaps John Wesley’s obsession that leads to his passion; the founder of the United Methodist Church, Wesley was an Anglican Priest who was methodical in his thinking. He often would have communion 30 times in a single day. He was often on his knees in prayer for hours on end or composing hymns and music as did his brother Charles. The web of life has so many strands all woven in and about. Was John Wesley a man obsessed or was he passionate about his calling. Hawthorne sees a different picture of man. He sees one of seemingly change, of personality differences and varying capabilities. Emerson’s thinks as I do that there is a close kinship between obsession and passion, a powerful spring but difficult to regulate.

“Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.” Amiel, Journal, 17 December 1856

“Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless.” Honoré de Balzac

“Every civilization is, among other things, an arrangement for domesticating the passions and setting them to do useful work.” Aldous Huxley

I look at how we see passion and conversely obsession and wonder if often the two are not synonymous sharing attributes of each other. Perhaps it is offering similarities within differences. It is easier to say you are passionate about your job than obsessed with it. It is far easier to except a passionate person than an obsessive one. Religion needed obsession to succeed as I look at Wesley and so many of the Saints yet passion for their beliefs is a more powerful and believable offering. In art I see Vincent Van Gogh who without his obsession would have never painted with the feverish pitch and effort that he did and his paintings today would not be selling for tens of millions of dollars, when in his life time they barely kept him alive. We see passion now when the poor girl he sent an ear to, saw obsession. Huxley seems to so easily change the tune with the atmosphere, we domesticate the passions. We turn that obsession into useful and meaningful work. Often in the game as I started passion is turned not against the passionate but for the person holding the hand.

“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.” Elbert Hubbard

I have known many who even take medication for OCD and you can tell when and how much they took based on their interactions. I wonder how we deal with passion do we manipulate and propagate as needed. Or do we simply medicate when not needed and push under the rug when the deed is completed and game won. It is such a difficult chore to ponder on passion. Do we have it or is it simply obsession? Please keep all in harm’s way in your heart and on your mind.

Graduates desire is the key

Bird Droppings May 21, 2011
Graduates desire is the key

Four years ago Friday I had the privilege to hear my niece give the salutatorian speech at her graduation from Metter High School in Metter Ga. Metter is still has primarily an agrarian economy and driving from my in-laws to the school we passed by freshly dug onion fields. My Vidalia onions in the garden at home are still just getting started. This area of Georgia is famous for its sweet onions. Bags of onions were sitting in rows waiting to be picked up. I listened and watched as high school students gave speeches turned their tassels and threw their caps in the air. That graduation in Metter was a practice run for my youngest son’s graduation four years ago this coming Friday. My son claimed how often is it that you have two of your cousins as salutatorians in one year. Another niece was salutatorian at our high school.
So often as I sit down I am unsure of what will be my next writing looking about at familiar materials gathered on my desk over the past weeks. I am sort of a pack rat as my room at school will attest to and as does my office area at home. Looking about a quick run down of what is before me, to my left two plaques, both are quotes I have used several times behind them a list of Standards for Curriculum that I am supposed to use as I do lesson plans. Near by two book markers, one the quote from Reinhold Neibuhur the other a quote from my mother and a copy of my book I am working on editing.
Sometimes my writing can be so cryptic that I need to put clues about so I can follow them and remember the direction I was headed. I so often throw out the word empathy when discussing teaching. It is also crucial to human existence. I have a friend who I pick to get married next fall. My friend can not figure out how I know so much. I listen and hear pieces and bits and empathy also a bit of inside information about her dress maybe by coincidence.
Several nights back I watched a movie that while directed by a man who is known for using twists and turns and has done some really bizarre movies in this one is a plot that happens daily in our lives. The movie is “Insomnia” with Al Pacino and Robin Williams. The plot line was the famous investigator Al Pacino who accidentally shoots his partner in the fog coincidently the partner was going to talk to Internal Affairs about him. How is this about our daily undertakings? The beginning of the murder plot takes place while investigating a murder and the witness is the murderer. A long story short Al Pacino’s character has to lie and in the plot line the lies build as his sleeplessness builds to a point of hallucinating.

“Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact the entire world agrees with it; nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it” Maimodes

My point is watching the movie reminded me literally of in life a little simple fabrication can build, as we tell a friend or family an untruth something small at first and soon it mushrooms. So often at school or around town I hear someone tell another person what I know is an untruth and the story begins and grows and rumors have a way of enveloping us eventually. I often joke about starting rumors with students and faculty. But as I sit here this morning my point is borrowing from an old quote “If you tell the truth you do not have to remember the story”.
As I sat down this morning and pulled up my quotes for the day I was overwhelmed with ideas and looking around well an interesting day ahead. Our own high school graduated its largest class ever last night. Sitting here today recalling the speeches last night and having listened to our graduating students tell of their ideas and ideals at a graduation my mind shifted to pondering the realities of our society.

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” Aldous Huxley

Many years ago in tenth grade 1965 I had an English teacher who had us read a book by Aldous Huxley “Brave New World” as I think back she was a new teacher in her first year right out of college. She was fired for her reading selections it seems Huxley, Rahn, and Orwell were a bit too controversial for the school board in that time. But we learned and her classes were lively and interesting. Sadly the book 1984 in 1965 was to controversial. 1984 is now standard reading in most high schools and required in many.
As I look back and think today we still censor learning as we try and limit learning. School boards across the nation vote on issues such as the concept of intelligent design or allowing Harry Potter as a library book and this is going on literally daily. My favorite was a local school board attaching a label to science books, a disclaimer for the theory of evolution.

“The deeper a sand-well is dug the freer is its flow of water. Even so, the deeper a man’s learning the greater is his wisdom.” Tirukkural

The more we learn the greater the wisdom that is if we are learning, but it takes initiative to learn and I have found you have to want to learn have the desire to learn in order for real learning to occur.

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is and in great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” Vince Lombardi

As I was trying to pull all of this together today Saturday has flown by and I have much to do. I took over one thousand four hundred photos last night. It will be Monday and a new week ahead teacher workdays and the end of this year. With my only a few days of work this week full weekend of activities with family ahead, a quote from the great Vince Lombardi. Coach Lombardi had a passion for football and for winning. He coached the Green Bay Packers to the first Super bowl in 1965 coincidently. My father has used Lombardisms numerous times in his own writings and lectures. Lombardi did not like losing but the quotes are not about losing as he says “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is”.
Desire is the key, a desire to succeed to win to have A’s to be someone that is the key. Looking back to the quote from Tirukkural on digging a sand well, the deeper we dig through desire, the more knowledge we will have. Huxley’s quote it is up to us to make the effort the change to have the desire no one else can do that for us. So this week sit down and think of how can you get the desire and then accomplish your goals. I would like to congratulate all of the graduates and may you find peace and tranquility in your daily walk. I read President Obama’s words this morning which reminded me of former President Jimmy Carter as he sought to bring peace to the Middle East. The words have been used by each of the last five presidents in differing arrangement but still the same context. The ridicule from the Presidents detractors is interesting. I talked only yesterday about perception with several teachers and it is amazing how perceptions alter our realities. Currently I am planning on writing again tomorrow not to take anything away from some who might be pondering some other course of action. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.