Our perceptions vary greatly about life

Bird Droppings September 9, 2011
Our perceptions vary greatly about life

“Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” Irving Berlin

It was ten years ago I was waiting to go teach again after having spent nearly twenty three years in the publishing business. I was anxious to say the least. I had gone by the school and signed a few forms and talked with the principal for an hour or so. Then the next day came and within hours I was immersed in a day I will not forget. It was my first day back teaching. While I spent most of the day locked in a room in a school lock down because of the 9-11 bombing I still introduced myself to my charges and we did get to know each other.

“To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Each moment, is for each of us different and as I use the word over and over our perceptions vary greatly about life. Emerson so eloquently states “the same world is a hell and a heaven” depending on how you take it. How we live life and our reactions can be construed much the same way.

“It’s how you deal with failure that determines how you achieve success.” David Feherty

We live in a world of contrast black, white and a swirling of gray then somewhere there is a dividing line to separate the differences. Our adaptation and manipulation of crossing the line between the variations is our dealing with life.

“Nothing in life is so hard that you can’t make it easier by the way you take it.” Ellen Glasgow

“What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.” Thaddeus Golas

Many years ago I recall a story from Hindu lore of a water bearer who each morning would go to the stream and fill two great jugs with water. One was new and held every drop all the way from the river to the house. The other jug had a crack in it and a steady stream of water leaked out all the way from the river to the house. Often when arriving at the house the cracked jug would be literally empty. One day the new jug most boastful said to the cracked jug how can you be so happy you never complete your task each day all your water leaks out and you come home empty. The cracked jug said smiling and never once upset, “have you noticed the flowers all along the way from the stream lining the path where I water them each day.

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz

I find this so true in high school among students; some who are so capable simple choose to just pass. “I have a seventy I am passing that’s all I need”. Others who struggle to achieve try for an A and work each aspect of their endeavor difficult each sentence a chore but they persist and succeed. I got to know a young lady who took the science portion of the Graduation test five times each time she would be closer gaining points as she went, finally recently she passed by two points. I have read how the school board has again passed or stated they will uphold the graduation walking policy. Sadly within that are the girls and guys who do try and may take five tries to succeed not because of attitude but ability. Yet they are in jeopardy of not walking at graduation.
I read how we need to uphold that standard but it is a faulty one there are exceptions and this young lady is one and her mother and she were ones that fought last year to walk. She received her fourth test score weeks before graduation and was one point off. She took classes studied hard and had been a good student all 12 years. She wasn’t a person who did not deserve to walk she tried, but our view is of a failure and we punish her at graduation time.

“Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.” Fredrick Langbridge

Sometimes it is only a matter of looking up versus looking down and perception is radically different.

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” Chrétien Malesherbes

So often we limit ourselves we set up the road blocks and stop dead in our tracks all possibility of success.

“Attitudes are more important than facts.” Karl A. Menninger

“Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.” Earl Nightingale

“We have unprecedented conditions to deal with and novel adjustments to make; there can be no doubt of that. We also have a great stock of scientific knowledge unknown to our grandfathers with which to operate. So novel are the conditions, so copious the knowledge, that we must undertake the arduous task of reconsidering a great part of the opinions about man and his relations to his fellow men which have been handed down to us by previous generations who lived in far other conditions and possessed far less information about the world and themselves. We have, however, first to create an unprecedented attitude of mind to cope with unprecedented conditions, and to utilize unprecedented knowledge.” James H. Robinson

It was only a few years ago in the history of man that TV became a reality. Yesterday as I was helping someone do a paper a question was asked “when did racism start was it during the civil war”. Racism and slavery are not new to man, some anthropologists look back even to Neanderthal man at signs of racism with Cro-Magnon man. But each generation has more to work with more information more knowledge more data to compile and their response is what had been looked at one way has become different.

“There are times when you just get down, you feel like nobody likes you. We’re in high school forever. It’s just what we do with it.” Rene Russo

Rene Russo is one of my favorite actresses and someone who was famous as a model and actually then made it bigger as an actress. She at one point as her modeling career started to dwindle thought all was over but interestingly enough now she models perhaps more now that she is famous as an actress.

“Don’t be against things so much as for things.” Col. Harland Sanders

Most of us have had Kentucky fried chicken at some point in life Col. Sanders literally changed fast food along with Ray Kroc of McDonald’s fame and it was their attitude that did it. Both men took already used and tested ideas and with attitude made them work.

“Nothing will work unless you do.” John Wooden

“Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” Ray Kroc

Every day I hear a student blame a teacher for being a sorry teacher I have never yet heard a student say they were a sorry student. But I have heard many students except simply a seventy percent and be happy “its passing” and so where does the blame lie if in effect blame is appropriate. We choose and we choose to fail or succeed. We are the culprits not a teacher, not the book and not the class we choose. Please keep all in harm’s way in your thoughts and on your hearts.
namaste
bird

Wandering around today and nearly missing a moment with my grand daughter

Bird Droppings June 16, 2011
Wandering about today and nearly missed a moment
with my grand daughter

“Until you have a son of your own you will never know the joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honor that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass something good and hopeful into the hands of his son, and you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to be.” Kent Nerburn

In my running around today I got home just in time to hold my grand daughter before her morning nap. As I started this morning with fathers day coming up I am borrowing from one of my favorite authors who wrote a book to his son and this passage is from that book. I am sure had Kent been blessed with daughters his words would be different and one day perhaps he will be graced with a grand daughter which even makes this passage more significant. As a grand parent the joy is magnified and intensified and every single smile or tiny hand reaching carries love and emotions that are hard to express.
My youngest son heads out early every day often before his daughter is awake. I had a nice drive this morning into town and errands for the house and for school. I felt like I drove a million miles by the time I got home. It has been some time since I thought about this topic and thought I would share again.

“To admit you were wrong is to declare you are wiser now than before.” Unknown author

When I saw this I had many flashbacks to arguments over the years, now perhaps I would call a few debates but back in the day they were arguments. One of my favorite was about copperhead eggs. But that was many years ago, copperheads do not lay eggs they are developed inside the female and are born fully developed and poisonous. Funny thing was many years back a UGA vet student could not be persuaded otherwise. I knew that information from about second grade, anyhow in life admitting you were wrong is probably one of the hardest and most difficult tasks we could ever have, even when only a silly argument or discussion on copperhead eggs or who was best baseball player. Letting go of ego is a difficult task.

“An inflated consciousness is always egocentric and conscious of nothing but its own existence. It is incapable of learning from the past, incapable of understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing right conclusions about the future. It is hypnotized by itself and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms itself to calamities that must strike it dead.” Karl G. Jung

If I were to call my shelf a certain kind of psychologist it would be Jungian. I do think Jung may have over did it a bit in his idea but ego is such a hard task master and so often in life we all sooner or later fall victim.

“If someone is blessed as I am is not willing to clean out the barn, who will?” H. Ross Perot

Looking back on my own life and I was never really a Perot fan but I happen to like the thought he addresses here. In life who but ourselves is there to clean out the barn. I found a sign with the word EGOS in bold lettering on it and then the red circle for NO across it. I placed several up around the school the only one that survived was on my door, still haven’t figured that one out. All the others were down very quickly, people in general do not want to be wrong or questioned.

“If you think about yourself then you’ve lost sight of the ball.” Mike Willesee

Ever wonder how a pro basketball team either succeeds or collapses. All in all most pro teams are very close in ability, but it is the dealing with egos that makes or breaks a team. A coach has to be able de-egoize a team that is the true sign of a great coach.

“A particular shot or way of moving the ball can be a player’s personal signature, but efficiency of performance is what wins the game for the team. “ Pat Riley

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” John Wooden

“Nothing will work unless you do. “ John Wooden

Many of you never may have heard of John Wooden, perhaps the greatest College basketball coach of all time. I believe he won more NCAA championships somewhere about ten, than any other coach and more in a row. Wooden lived a simple philosophy of life.

“You cannot attain and maintain physical condition unless you are morally and mentally conditioned. And it is impossible to be in moral condition unless you are spiritually conditioned. I always told my players that our team condition depended on two factors — how hard they worked on the floor during practice and how well they behaved between practices.” John Wooden

Recently a few months ago I found an article in the sports page, by former Wooden player who did not get to play very much. This former player was interviewing Bill Walton, a former NBA star, a now sports broadcaster and former great of UCLA’s glory days under Wooden. The player who did not play much had the same respect and love for Wooden as did Walton, and both carried Woodenisms in there wallets still, twenty plus years after college. Example is the key to Coach Wooden’s philosophy of life. Live the life as well as play hard. EGO had no place on a Wooden team and if an ego cropped up you probably will be sitting on the bench or playing at another university. Wooden was successful because he did not skirt the edges so many in the paper schools have done. He won through practice, his players were glad to get off the team, his practices were so hard. Behavior between practices was as important to Coach Wooden as was your play.
Imagine a world where the aura was gone from pro-sports and players played because they wanted too, not for millions of dollars. Imagine where newspapers would have to print about the team getting all A’s in the NCAA rather then team members are arrested for shop lifting and sexual harassment. EGOS can destroy not only an individual but a team and a society.

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” John Wooden

I will close with that last statement from John Wooden, in life and not just sports character will keep you there, a good thought to remember and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Pondering on mothers day about faith

Bird Droppings May 8, 2011
Pondering on mothers day about faith

For so many a Sunday morning brings dressing up and heading to a place of worship. Worship for most is a community event a gathering of like believers who sit and go through ritualistic undertakings in a prescribed manner and at the prescribed time head home or to a restaurant for lunch and then right back to their lives. My question is always does this entail faith or simply tradition and ritual. A routine followed from childhood and continued into adulthood and passed on to offspring similar to tool making and other basic functions. Perhaps this is where I draw a differentiation between faith and religion. For me religion is the traditions and rituals and then faith is something else.

“Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.” Saint Thomas Aquinas

“In faith and hope the world will disagree, but all mankind’s concern is charity.” Alexander the Great

Within man there is a driving force, a desire to understand, a need to know and perhaps be known. Often we hope, we believe, so that we can share. Early writers chose a word to define this idea of sharing. In Greek several words were used to define what mankind considered love, Eros, Philos and Agape. Eros is that sexual passionate love, Philos that love that can be deemed brotherly love, and Agape. Agape in 1613 was defined as the word charity by translators for King James. As I was researching earlier I found Alexander the Great used charity, perhaps in a similar fashion.

“Faith is a continuation of reason.” William Adams

“Faith is a higher faculty than reason.” Henry Christopher Bailey

“I believe though I do not comprehend, and I hold by faith what I cannot grasp with the mind.” St. Bernard

I have introduce the word love into my discussion of faith as well as so often it intertwines between the operations and delineations of what is defined by many as faith. A simple word faith, much of the world’s history has evolved around our understanding of this word and our acceptance or rejection of various aspects of that word.

“I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in the kindness of human beings. I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and angels.” Pearl S. Buck

“To us also, through every star, through every blade of grass, is not God made visible if we will open our minds and our eyes.” Thomas Carlyle

Several years ago I researched the word faith in an education class, and found that Dr. James Fowler of Emory University wrote a book on the development of faith. In his book he was comparing faith in stages much as Erickson and Piaget looked at children’s development.

“Do you know how to digest your food? Do you know how to fill your lungs with air? Do you know how to establish, regulate and direct the metabolism of your body — the assimilation of foodstuff so that it builds muscles, bones and flesh? No, you don’t know how consciously, but there is a wisdom within you that does know.” Donald Curtis

“To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty… this knowledge; this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.” Albert Einstein

As I researched the word and its applications to people and especially to children I found an interesting correlation and parallel. The word trust and faith are synonymous.

“Our faith comes in moments… yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A faith to live by, a self to live with, and a purpose to live for.” Bob Harrington

“All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light, but though I seem to be driven out of my country as a misbeliever I have found no man yet with a faith like mine.” James Joyce

Could it be that faith is an evolutionary thing, it grows, alters, changes and develops much as visual acuity changes and mental cognitive aspects of our nature change. As I looked deeper and saw correlations to the word trust, I could see trust in children evolve and grow and simultaneously faith.

“Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.” Soren Kierkegaard

“That’s the thing about faith. If you don’t have it you can’t understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary” Major Kira Nerys

There is a dark side as I watch children who have little trust in their lives for what ever reason. It is here we see that vacuum, a hollow void a space where faith is vacant. If faith and trust is void then as so many great thinkers have said hope is lost and charity is non existent. I watch students who have little trust in anything and for them only self matters. Over the years I have seen philosophy and theology often interconnect at times one trying to explain the other.

“Life is a battle between faith and reason in which each feeds upon the other, drawing sustenance from it and destroying it.” Reinhold Niebuhr

“There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer.” John Wooden

Two great men in their respective fields Niebuhr a theologian and Wooden one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time with a similar idea. Going at life and in my own case in teaching it is finding a way to build trust in children who have none. Many times more often than not when trust can be developed then so can faith. Hope soon follows, and charity sort of finds it way along. Many years ago I watched a film one of my favorites, Billy Jack. In one scene a young Native American offers a slip of paper to a young lady in the film containing a passage he attributes to St. Francis of Assisi.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr

Niebuhr used this statement in a much longer prayer often referred to as the serenity prayer during a sermon in the late 1950’s. As I worked through literature and my own thoughts piecing together bits and shards, I found there was a need within people for faith, and for trust. In reality it is not much different than so many other areas of human development. The capacity and direction of that faith and trust may vary greatly in traditions and in perceptions but it is there. Walking out into the mornings often reminds me, as I look upon a clear sky a moon tilted slightly smiling, stars and a few clouds creating an image of calm. We each piece together our own life’s puzzle one piece at a time often never seeing the completed version only having faith that it is there, somewhere. Please as the week draws to an end, keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts and a most happiest of mothers days.
namaste
bird