Bird Droppings December 5, 2011
Seeing each piece as we live
It has been several years ago that I began looking at life as a journey each piece building to the next. Yesterday I was reviewing my jaunt to take our granddaughter home to North Georgia. I got up to go run by the school and check creatures in my room I had to detour around a car accident as I did my immediate thought was what will I experience new as I go this different way. I did talk with several people and see things I would not have seen otherwise adding significantly to my day. But what of those strangers in those discussions that took place, did they continue the talk. I wondered was the idea engrained so it was carried farther and that is why my morning had a change. It was about pieces of the puzzle falling in place the great mosaic of life unfolding before us.
“People have the illusion that all over the world, all the time, all kinds of fantastic things are happening; when in fact, over most of the world most of the time, nothing is happening.” David Brinkley
So much of what we do we try and think perceive what everyone else is doing and miss the focus on now on where you are at the moment amazingly if you do you may see so much more.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through chinks of his cavern.” William Blake
Nearly fifteen years ago I was involved on taking a group of high school students on a retreat. We journeyed up to the mountains of North Georgia where one of the sessions was facilitated by a good friend. He asked folks in his group to find a spot and observe. Some saw great oaks and pines untouched for many years while others saw the great boulders in the river. However the one with the smallest vision saw perhaps the most. One girl who was going through some difficult times saw a beetle crawling along the ground and it came to her foot and rather than disturb the beetle she did not move and intently watched. It would start crawling over and tumble back start and tumble, time after time trying to crawl over her foot. She watched rather than help the beetle and on the twentieth try the beetle succeeded and crawled over her foot. When she came back to the group she was one of the last to tell what they saw and her story became the focus for the group. Others had not looked so minutely only seeing the big picture but that beetle story will be remembered by all success is there if we try.
“Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it “creative observation.” William S. Burroughs, Creative viewing
You know that the beetle story would have occurred even if not observed but no one would have known about it.
“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” Max Erhmanm
I watch this happen daily in the halls of a high school where constant comparison is a daily process. Why not be yourself? Why not be true not simply a copy of that which you think you should be? It is a very hard sale to teenagers always wanting to be the coolest and the sharpest dressed and in style. When we have a decade dress up I am always suitable for 70’s, 80’s and 90’s since I still wear the same clothes.
“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” Albert Einstein
I have been working on essays about a black and white picture of a bridge. It is an effort to get students who have never imagined, to be creative and to imagine what could be happening in a static photo. But with enough prompts and discussion amazing things happen.
I am always amazed at how today I write about the hardships and troubles of days gone by and often teach lessons based on those events.
“A penny will hide the biggest star in the universe if you hold it close enough to your eye.” Samuel Grafton
For fun try it a simple experiment. Hold a penny up to your eye and if close enough a star, a sun, a building can be covered up it is all about perception.
“Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.” Helen Keller
Perhaps one of the most humbling experiences of my life was working with deaf children for two years. One of those pieces of the puzzle I speak of and remember so fondly. I often would imagine what it was like to be deaf and blind. Many the time to be better in tune with my kids I would go on field trips and be deaf with them wearing ear muffs from the speech pathologist I would listen through hearing aids the crackling jumbled sounds of the world. Oreo cookie wrappers wreaked havoc with hearing aid’s back in the day.
“The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective.” Al Nueharth
How we see life and all around us is perspective and yes it could be Mt. Everest and or an ant hill. Often we get so stressed all we see are mountains. Relax and eventually even the greatest mountain erodes away with time.
“A weapon that you don’t have in your hand will not kill a snake. Looking for something can get in the way of finding it.” African Proverb
After so often spending a day looking at snakes at a herpetological convention I liked the sound of this. A local reptile expert was doing a demonstration and had a large diamond backed rattlesnake out on a table. Several times the snake nearly got loose as I watched maybe to add to the show although as I sat I was wondering about this fellows insurance.
“The wolf is upset about what he left behind, and the shepherd is upset about what he took away.” Armenian Proverb
It is all in the perception. The momma wolf is feeding pups and the shepherd too has children to feed. The shepherd is in the wolf’s territory and is exacting a price for being there. The wolf however has upset the shepherd and a price could be exacted as it has for wolves for thousands of years. It is all in how we look at it. Currently in our own country out west around Yellowstone Park livestock owners want reintroduced wolves killed off. Even though the wolf kills are a tiny percent of annual deaths and wolves have reduced coyote numbers which were a major predator. Only a few years ago they were endangered. In all of this the funny thing is ranchers want to use federal land to graze on they want to kill off grizzlies and wolves on federal land to graze their cattle for free.
“Happiness is… usually attributed by adults to children, and by children to adults. “ Thomas Szasz
Far too many people are happy where they are. I have heard so many times I wish I was young again or I wish I were an adult. Enjoy the moments and experience all you can.
“You can never step in a stream the same way twice” Zen saying
On my desk at school is a photo of my son stepping across rocks at the same retreat the girl mentioned previously saw her beetle. John fell in several times but continued to try and eventually did go rock to rock across the stream. I wondered about this saying the first time I saw it. I find it is true in so many ways with each experience that is unique and no matter how hard you may try will never happen again exactly the same way. Enjoy life, live life but most of all listen see and be. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks.