Can we add color to a gray world

Bird Droppings November 9, 2011
Can we add color to a gray world

In recent days I have been taking brilliant color photos and converting to duotones or simply black and white often with striking results. It was several nights back I had been having a series of vivid dreams or visions some might say. One in particular I was in a very repetitive series of images over and over looking for a solution. After several times waking up and falling right back to sleep and into this same over again dream it hit me. I was missing a simple piece to my puzzle in life.

“Never claim to know anything till you have experienced it.” Bear Heart, The Wind is my mother: The Life and teaching of a Native American Shaman

So much of what we teach in high school is third person and information and students never really gain an understanding because they never experience that bit or piece. It lacks relevance to them and becomes simply a moment in time.

“Stress is the body and mind’s response to any pressure that disrupts its normal balance. It occurs when our perceptions of events don’t meet our expectations and we don’t manage our reaction to the disappointment. As a response, stress expresses itself as resistance, tension, strain or frustration that throws off our physiological and psychological equilibrium, keeping us out-of-sync.” Doc Childre and Howard Martin, The HeartMath Solution

By chance I got into a discussion on perception a few days ago in with a graduate class. Amazing how we all seem to see the same world so differently. What my years of experience and learning see and what eighteen year olds limited years and even another person of my own age who has equally experienced life. Each of us has been different places, seen different things, and learned different methods and strategies in life.

“Cancer is my secret because none of my rivals has been that close to death and it makes you look at the world in a different light and that is a huge advantage.” Lance Armstrong

I remember waiting to here after my father was wheeled into surgery for stomach cancer we had been given the grim future by the surgeon just before he was taken in and were waiting as a family for news after. Amazing how the threat of death offers new perspective to life, it seems each second becomes so much more precious. Friends who have been in similar situations take a new outlook on life cherishing each moment as if it were the last.

“Do not say,” it is morning,” and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name.” Rabindranath Tagore

When the surgeon walked out and said this was the smallest tumor he had ever removed from a patients stomach and still paraphrased, with but. It was a relief, life though had been redefined within our family. Meaning to each moment had been altered and our perception of each new moment somewhat clearer.

“What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.” C. S. Lewis

Our experiences and understandings and beliefs do have input and effect on our perception of each instant in our lives. They are sort of the filters we see and hear through and conversely understand through. I have a student who is extremely conservative and views everything as being altered to be politically correct. My student sees each item in their life as having been spun as in how the news media spins various news items. Many of us do as we watch news biased by opinion of the news broadcaster but I am amazed as I see one thing and my student’s view is nearly opposite.

“The solution to stress management lies in how we perceive the stresses in our lives. It’s not really the events taking place in our lives that cause stress. Stress depends entirely on how we perceive the events that happen to us. The good news is that since stress is a response—not the event that triggers the response—we can control it. Once we shift our perception of a situation and see it with more clarity, the stressful reaction can be reduced or released.” Doc Childre and Howard Martin, The HeartMath Solution

The difficult aspect however is changing perception, it has taken time and effort to come to the world view that we have. I think to my student whose views are so conservative at times. While they are hers on one hand many are handed down by her parents and family as well. The experiences of a family or society often impact the view of the individual as well.

“You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.” Ziggy

“You have to ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The appearance of things changes according to the emotions and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.” Kahlil Gibran

A cartoonist, a philosopher and a mystic poet would see a world differently perhaps yet there is an understanding among these three that the world has varying and differing views. Is the glass half full or half empty even though the amount of water is the same? We seem to be asked this in teaching quite a bit nearly daily. Of course then either way we are to fill the glass.

“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien

“It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers, and criminals.” Charles Kuralt

Amazing how a linguist and newscaster see so similar, though one is famous for realism and the other for fantasy. Charles Kuralt’s trademark was his to the point clarity in news casting and J. R. Tolkien for his brilliance in creating a world where fantasy and magic are real for all who read the words.

“We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.” Anais Nin

“No life is so hard that you can’t make it easier by the way you take it.” Ellen Glasgow

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend” Henri Bergson

I often wonder as I go about each day as to how people see and hear what they do. What are the biases and prejudices that make their world appear as it does. So many people allow hatred and negativity into their lives through their limited perception of existence. I sat with a young man a few days ago helping him calm down, he was stressed by the actions of another student. He had been stressed to a point of wringing his hands till there were red. The other student walked away I am sure laughing how he had pushed this other fellow to near the breaking point, “all in fun”. Seems he was a big man on campus and it was part of his image.

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.” Martha Washington

“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.” Epictetus

One student sees humor another sees ridicule and shame. One student walks away laughing and another student sit in severe pain.

“Miracles seem to rest, not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from far off, but upon our perceptions being made finer so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear that which is about us always.” Willa Cather

It is so difficult to pass judgment when perception is involved, yet life should be about doing no harm and doing no harm means not finding humor in another’s pain. When someone asks you to stop whether you do or do not see the issue, stopping is the only alternative. We have to learn our perception is not the sole perception in this reality. I have seen to many tears these past weeks walking down the halls of the school. I have seen too many clenched fists.

“Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.” Hans Margolius

So often emotion tints the glass of our vision and anger allows us to see color only in gray or see grays in vivid color.

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

“Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” George Bernard Shaw

If only we could provide free Windex to all what a world we would have. It might take a little Windex to clean the perceptions of the world, and to help clear the grime off so many windows and let in the light. Thinking to a recent commercial where a husband is sleeping in a recliner by a large window and his wife comes by cleaning with Windex and the sunlight wakes him up and he stumbles into the newly cleaned window. I really do not want everybody seeing the world alike that would be boring but somehow leveling the playing field. Maybe just providing corrective lenses to others so they can see my way and I am color blind. Always there is the big if only? Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart.
namaste
bird

There is a reason I am told

Bird Droppings August 31, 2011
There is a reason I am told

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

I have often wondered about this thought as have so many before me and will after I am gone. Philosophers wonder and wise men ponder, is there purpose, a reason for each of our existences. Over the years numerous books and articles show the intertwining and interconnecting of lives and of reality have been written and reflected on by many great thinkers. I have seen the interplay daily of my own life with others in the school where I teach and with 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 with a cognitively involved rationale for existence. This is control of self of the mind within the individual and it is there 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 each have to justify our own 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 yet could there be more to this 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 own independent reason for being? 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 vanquish.

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

Within each of us there is perhaps a compass, a directional beacon, a sense of whom and where we are in the world. That driving force, that searching for the harbor could this be our purpose in life and in 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 melodramatic and direct Shaw draws 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 to question, to ask 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 purpose and have meaning. Far too often we under estimate who and what we are. We demean ourselves in self pity and doubt. I will use the illustration of a puzzle, a magnificent jig saw 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 simply see the gray backing of the puzzle piece.

“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. Please as we start a new week and with so much turmoil both here and abroad keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts.
namaste
bird