Sometimes it takes an inner journey to help others

Bird Droppings October 23, 2011

Sometimes it takes an inner journey to help others

It has been several months that I have focused on my own issues and problems and often let others problems drift by the wayside. I have been there but only perhaps in body so self focused that many things drifted by. It took a friends email to wake me from my daydream of sorts. I recall very clearly when I received the note my dear friend was diagnosed with cancer and had emailed me letting me know. I do procrastinate always finding excuses for not responding not interacting not working on my dissertation. I went out the afternoon of his email with a smoldering bowl of white sage and ursa leaves to my letting the smoke waft about me clearing my head as I fanned the smoke and embers with a hawk feather. While absorbed in the festivities of Fall sprts, Homecoming week at the high school and taking several thousand photos seemed a great reason to hold off this week on so many details of life and interaction with others it was that an excuse.

I needed some time to be alone to think to ponder beyond my morning wandering and writing. I drove to Macon Georgia to take my youngest son a suit and dress shirt for a semi-formal affair he said he was attending the next Saturday night. There is something about a drive that clears my head especially when on back roads with many things to see and good music to listen too. So my CD player was loaded with Allman Brothers, Neil Young, Black Crowes, Carlos Nakai, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton I began the drive. It was my first time listening to Neil Young’s new CD, A Fork in the Road, and how appropriate for a 250 mile road trip with many forks along the way.

I stopped by the school to get my camera and plug in a new battery I had purchased on Friday to start my day. A few errands and I was heading down the road. Somewhere about Covington Georgia, Bob Dylan was wailing Knocking on Heavens door and I recalled the day I went to hear my youngest sons rendition at a talent show during a week of Choir camp the night my father passed away. Coincidently it was in Covington I went to hear my son sing that song. I called him to see if he knew the song playing but the wind and distortion on the cell phone during a harmonica solo were hard to hear.

Jackson Georgia came quickly and a left turn towards Macon was on hand. I took a few highway photos as I drove places of special memories. Fresh Air Barbeque and Towalgia Nursery and Towaglia River Bridge washed out many years ago in a flood and rebuilt. Towalgia is Creek for bloody river. It seems it was somewhere here about scalps would be washed in the river and dried for trade to the white soldiers back in the day. Scalping being a custom adopted from the whiteman. I was going to stop and get a photo of Lake Juliette as I drove by since the lake was topped off with all the rain. This was the spot my father in law drowned several years ago on a fishing trip. It was a day of memories and details flashing back and reminding me of my own mortality as I drove towards Macon.

I stopped just before Macon at the new Mall and went into Barnes and Nobles looking for Kent Nerburn’s newest book which they did have several copies of and I grabbed one. I was drawn to the CD section and also found Neil Young’s newest CD. So here I am Neil Young and a Carlos Nakai CD and my Kent Nerburn book headed to Mercer. My son met me on campus and showed me his apartment and I am always amazed at how college kids can devastate what many call a domicile. Although Matt said it was clean for once. I left Mercer and headed to the Indian mounds. I tend to enjoy the solitude and quiet and sacredness of the mounds although quite a few tourists were about that Saturday.

I went into the main building where the museum and presentations are held and got a new t-shirt from heritage days just a few weeks back. Several different tribes are represented with artisans, dancers and story tellers giving presentations through the weekend. The back of my shirt borrows from a Sitting Bull quote “Let us leave a world for our children”. I drove out to the temple mound on the far side of the property. All along the way the stillness and quiet was what I needed. Several families were on top of the mound as I came in and I waited till they left. I enjoy the solitude and sacredness of this spot. For nearly five thousand years various peoples have held this place as sacred. When I go I always face each of the four directions, north, east, south and west. There is something about imagining what it was like a thousand years ago when people lived around the temple mound and corn fields and canoes could be seen from the top.

I gathered my camera and began the trek home. I put my new Neil Young CD in and read through his new songs. One set of lyrics caught my attention and I played that song several times along the road. Appropriately it is called Off the Road.

“When the day is done

And the sun is sinking low

When you’ve seen a lot

And you’ve been most everywhere

You go, you go

And you think the end is in sight

You can never take your eyes

Off the road, off the road

When the traffics slow

And those brake lights are lighting up

When you are all alone

And you’re driving through the night

And you know the end is not insight

You can never take your eyes off the road off the road”

Neil Young

I read these words and thought about my own mortality. As I get to my sixtie second year so many things come to mind and when my dear friend sent an email of his development of cancer along with an early birthday thought. It was reminding me if as if I needed that. But as I rode I found my emptiness subside and a peace fill the void. Thoughts, ideas and pondering it seems through a journey along the roads of Georgia does wonders for the soul. Please my dear friends keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts.

namaste

bird

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Thorns really only hurt by surprise

Bird Droppings October 21, 2011
Thorns really only hurt by surprise

It has been an interesting week spending time with my granddaughter amazing how many different things she can find to get into. We recently had homecoming week and each day we the teachers and students could dress up according to various themes, 1980’s work out day sort of threw me until someone said Flashdance, the movie. Needless to say there were many shredded sweat shirts and leggings. Hero day found me wearing my Steve Irwin shirt since he is a real hero of mine. One day was college colors day so I was divided which of seven or eight do I choose from and it seems Georgia Tech won out and I only had a son graduate from there. I also had an episode of interest as I started working on questions about benefits yesterday. I bumped into another teacher who was complaining of increasing health insurance costs as we talked and I made a comment borrowed from a recent article of a health insurance executive who took home almost one hundred and fifty million dollars last year. I made a comment about this is why so many protestors are said where is the line of greed versus profit, and was told well you are a socialist and I am a capitalist I do not see anything wrong with that. Well why complain about health costs and rising insurance prices if it is ok to make an exorbitant profit off of them and in this situation does not impact my health care.

“Love is a rose but you better not pick it. Only grows when it’s on the vine Handful a thorns and you know you’ve missed it. Lose your love when you say the word mine” Neil Young

I first heard this song many years ago, Linda Ronstadt was singing it. It was years later that I learned it was written by Neil Young. Coincidently I have been a Neil Young fan since 1968, the Woodstock era. He is an interesting character, Neil Young that is. But the words in his lyrics are always powerful. I used my exercise from several semesters back when I gave out an assignment to find a song and print out lyrics. Several students printed out favorite songs that were a bit difficult to translate into anything, huh, huh, huh, yeah, yeah, yeah, huh, huh. That was a line actually ten lines of a fifteen line song lyric of a top ten song recently, entitled perception.

“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’.” From Creative viewing, by William S. Burroughs

What was Neil Young trying to say when he wrote that line so many years ago? It is not all as it seems. Burroughs looks at an artist creating and others will manifest that creation through perceiving that creation.

“The seeing of objects involves many sources of information beyond those meeting the eye when we look at an object. It generally involves knowledge of the object derived from previous experience, and this experience is not limited to vision but may include the other senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and perhaps also temperature or pain.” R. L. Gregory

We so often grasp at that first image, or first impression. “Love is a rose” to borrow from Neil Young, but the hidden aspects the thorns we don’t see till we try and pick it and a “handful of thorns and you know you missed it.” Trying to teach students to go beyond that first impression, use their prior knowledge and other senses can be difficult.

“Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed. Their highest merit is suggestiveness.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

Suggestiveness as Hawthorne states, perhaps teachers too are “suggestors”, first giving alternative other views in a world where so often views are limited. I think back to my first thought of health insurance. I suggested a line may have been crossed where someone was taking advantage of a situation to reap a profit. It has been a number of years since I first read Maslow’s works. One line stands above the rest. Do I look at the world and every problem as simply a nail and all I have is a hammer or was it the other way around yesterday discussing health car and insurance.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Abraham H. Maslow

This is a key point, in life so often people are limited by what they know or do not know. I put this very quote up on a bulletin board in my hall at the high school. So often I see kids who only have a hammer, as a teacher it is important and actually far too often a highly guarded secret knowing where the other tools are kept and that there are other tools.
Parents and teachers spend too much time teaching how to nail only and not enough showing the tool box. What if I carefully pruned that rose with clippers and gloves and grafted to a new bush. We then have a different outlook and a different view. What if instead of a hammer a wrench is needed or needle nose pliers. Suggest rather than tell, as a teacher or parent and always offer alternatives instead of solutions. Provide insight instead of tunnel vision. We all have room to grow and to see anew. “Love is a rose” and thorns or no thorns I will still pick it. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Trying to find a way back to normal

Bird Droppings January 18-20, 2011
Trying to find a way back to normal

“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, we’re finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming, four dead in Ohio. Gotta get down to it soldiers are cutting us down should have been done long ago. What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground how can you run when you know?” Neil Young

Perhaps it was just a wandering thought but while I was sitting thinking and pondering now a few days back one afternoon listening to Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall, the song Ohio played and stuck with me. It has been a traumatic start to the week. Getting back in a routine at school is sort of odd since with a three week scheduled break and a week for snow and ice we had been out over a month. It is literally trying to find my way back to normal and it is taking a few days or so. As lunch time at school rolls around I keep thinking I might have to escape at lunch to run home and hold my grand baby as well. Adding to my new routine I am amazed at how quickly we change our life style and focus as grand parents. Anyhow back to my original thought I was listening to “Ohio” by Neil young and the song sort of stuck with me and as I pondered how do you ever get to normal after an event like that. Incidentally one of the shooting victims from Arizona was at Kent State and lost a friend. I went looking for a few notes on the song and borrowed from Wiki-pedia the following:

“’Ohio’ is a protest song written and composed by Neil Young in reaction to the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970, and performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It was released as a single, backed with Stephen Stills’ ‘Find the Cost of Freedom,’ peaking at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Although a live version of the song was included on the group’s 1971 double album Four Way Street, the studio versions of both songs did not appear on an LP until the group’s compilation So Far was released in 1974. The song also appeared on the Neil Young compilation album Decade, released in 1977. It also appears on Young’s Live at Massey Hall album, which he recorded in 1971 but did not release until 2007.” Wiki-pedia

As I thought back with the song in my head to that day so long ago and where I was at the time finishing up spring semester at Eastern Baptist College in St. David’s Pennsylvania and starting to volunteer at a program in Paoli, actually getting my feet wet in teaching, where my brother was a student so many memories coming back all around a song. At Eastern Baptist we all started to wonder if the antiwar groups on campus that were relatively radical at the time next for the National Guard. There was a tension that is hard to explain especially if you are a nineteen year who has seen and heard so many horror stories about the war in Viet Nam and at that time violence on campuses in the US. We all wondered then if our country could ever get back to normal.

“There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things: for the reformer has enemies in all who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders from all those who would profit by the new order. This lukewarmness arises partly from the fear of their adversaries who have the law in their favor, and partly from the incredulity of mankind who do not just believe in anything new, until they have actual experience of it.” Machiavelli (1469 – 1527)

My mother sent this Machiavelli quote to me and back in the day and today so many similarities in our public awareness on both sides of the fence. I skip back to this past holiday season and for us as teachers in our county an extended break with a shortened calendar year and longer days to save money and then an extra week due to ice and snow. I find I am seriously a creature of habit and being out of routine for so long it is very hard to get back to normal. As I look at the national scene in politics and legislation I often wonder if we ever will actually do things for the people of the country and no longer for sponsors of politicians. On a passing thought maybe politicians should be required to wear stickers like in NASCAR of sponsors.

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Henry David Thoreau

It has been some time since I came back to Thoreau. I recall reading about him and Walden back in high school but it was just an assignment at that time. I as a student was living this quote. I was going through the motions of a being student but never quite really understood what it was I was doing there or why. Somewhere in Macon Georgia at Mercer it clicked and I became a student and found that being a student and learning were two completely different things. This is sort of like realizing how engrained our routines actually are in our daily lives. I am working on finally getting through a three day Bird Droppings which is almost unheard of. I come into school clean my room each morning and get ready for the day sit and write read a bit feed my various room critters and get ready for students. I had more to do since my classes changed almost daily this past week students in and out so my personal writing time was affected in the morning and now not having all day to run errands it is confined to a narrow window in the afternoon and then home to cook dinner and check on my grand baby.

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. “ Henry David Thoreau

I took a picture on January fourth of this year at sunrise and posted on facebook like so many images I post. I wanted to use a Thoreau quote on my “Wall of Fame”, at school and in looking through my images this sunrise was so intense it just seemed right and so it became a poster for my photo wall at school. As I read over several times this quote from Thoreau started to sink in. I need to think over and over those deep thoughts that I want to attain and accomplish and rather than procrastinate go about following my path way to completion. So I am slowly getting back to normal and just emailed a friend after a month long break it takes four or five days to get back in the groove. We have as a nation, state, county, school and family so many things ahead of us we need to begin working through and around and over so we can get back to normal. Then of course I really don’t think normal is where I probably ever will be according to many. Please keep all in harms way on your minds and in your hearts.
namaste
bird