Scrambling My White Mind

When faced with the reality of my world, there has always been a driving force in me to do the right thing. Even in the midst of my many mistakes in life, I’ve found my vocation¬† as a teacher to be a wonderful resource for reaching the minds and hearts of young people with sound ideas, support and a safe space. I believe that the ability to make change in our own lives gives us the opportunity to provide that same chance to the people around us, the people we are close to, in this case, the children in my classroom.

I am reacting to an all day conference on restorative justice that I am attending with a group of colleagues in Portland for the weekend. As far as conferences go, today is another one that has caught me by surprise, similar to several I have attended over the summer. Thematically, the idea of social and racial justice has been important. Now I know those are key words that I am passionate about understanding and conceptualizing; however, this is a journey that began ardently for me over two years ago, and the ride just continues to get better.

Throughout my life I have been passionate about cultural awareness. Many times I have felt like the white guy trying to ride the cliche of a hero coming in to save the world. When I first became a teacher, I was going to be the multicultural advocate of the year, based simply upon the scripts I used to inspire my students on stage. Twenty five years later I continue to look for that script.

(to be continued)

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What Really Means Love Today

Lately the news has been grim. We seem to be riding on this roller coaster of misinformation that draws our compassion in far too many directions. It really appears that on any given day we could lose sight of what is really important to us, based upon where we see our world headed. At least for me that is a fear. Sometimes I wonder if it just self- persecution or if my insight is really trying to match up with my intuitions.

I’ve always been a feeling person, one that operates from the heart. I can sit in my home and feel tears when a dad is making sure his daughter is ready for college, because that same emotion impacted me when my little girl started her first year of college away from home. I remember, I cried all the way home, a two hour drive where I really thought I had lost my world and I wasn’t ever going to have it back. But fortunately she did return a stronger and more confident, now, young woman, whom I am so very proud of.

My son has had a similar effect on my life. I have a picture of him and I standing on the shores of the Temperance river – me kneeling and he standing next to me with his Twins cap and a smile – pressed lips smile. We were together and we had just had a lot of fun and it was a moment frozen in time that for many years afterwards I would struggle because I wanted that time back. He grew up, found his own life and moved into the next chapter of his young adulthood. I thought I lost him, and there were many nights when I cried myself to sleep. But now today, he’s a strapping young man, and he has a good life, one that I can be extremely proud of.

It is those moments of reflection that I do understand the meaning of love. It is such moments that I look at the world around us and I wonder if everyone feels the same way I do. I wonder if people watch the news and they sometimes lose hope because there are so many wrong things happening, that our minds cannot wrap ourselves around them soon enough. In trying to do so, we forget those moments in our lives that have greater value. It is the people we love that we are close to and count on knowing and seeing throughout the various chapters of our lives.

I think that’s the piece we have to stay focused on. What is important is to know the love we already have and can feel in our family, our loved ones, those friends we are closest to, the people we know we can trust and count upon on a daily basis. I think by doing that we can by example be representative of a good, peaceful march upon the negativity that surrounds us.

I think we all need to practice love.

When Wonder Whines

I sometimes look at the world we live in,

and I wonder, is it mine to simply understand

or is what there is to believe

as complicated as it might seem.

 

The people I interact with have similar hopes,

we all feel certain the goodness in our hearts

yet how often have we let another walk by

whom later on we wondered their whereabouts.

 

We all wish to be a part of the solution,

tip a feather in my hat, I knew not to wander

yet, later on, sitting in my own quiet comfort

I still begin to wonder, is this really what I mean.

 

I’d like to think the world holds a positive energy,

impossible to measure without that negative strain.

A Little Boy

when I was a little boy

I had no idea

the man

I would become;

inside all of this

anxiety

remains that little boy

screaming

sometimes to not recall

the day

innocence gave its

departure notice

to his only

grasp upon

sweet reality

 

when I was a little boy

I understood

universal

love

When We Find We Are The Same

Rules need not be broken

to identify our true selves

we haven’t the demand

to walk upstream, to push

the elements aside

for personal gain,

in essence,

it is true that we all

do find the similar grounds

for which

our bodies

strike the earth

as feeling landed, secure,

understanding of time.

 

Oh, we do battle to separate

our lives

from those we disagree,

the them we conclude

are far astray from you and me,

and yet,

who is it we might observe

when the feeling

of not so assuredly confident

might cause dreams

aspirations,

the fantasy of our completion

to become more stirred

angst driven rather

than a peaceful protest.

 

We do,

we can,

we will inevitably

live our lives the same,

if for a moment

we step off the pedestal,

we let go of our divining rods,

loosen our grip on the main-hold

let our bodies, mind, heart

set sail and when we find

we have crossed a boundary

toward some simple freedom,

well then,

be sure to say hello

to everyone whom have all arrived

the same.

Finding A Rhythm

I use music,

depends upon the day,

usually something

upbeat, jazzy, message driven,

something to soothe

my soul,

it is the motive of a rhythm

to move the body,

let the mind follow,

let the whole of ourselves

become transfixed,

designed with the heart in sight.

 

We like to travel,

I

like to travel

go places well beyond

the space I am in,

rather than the physical nature

getting away,

I’d like rather to know

right here, right now,

I can go there, you might come here

in the span of a moment,

in the quiet serenade

of a bluesy melody.

 

‘Talk to me some more

you don’t have to go.’ – Phoebe Snow

 

Something to be said,

without having to find

the answer,

just a listen

follow the beat

listen to intention,

find some meaning

moves beyond the moment,

let’s you settle inside a memory,

perhaps a dream,

a fantasy,

let it take you somewhere

tonight.

Talking About Suicide

The other day I ran into an old friend. We had begun laughing about a coffee clutch of several gentlemen we knew that would gather daily in the summer. We’d both joined a couple of times, knew them all about as well as we knew one another, just regulars at a little coffee shop in our neighborhood. I hadn’t seen him for quite some time, and he told me that the circumstances of that gathering were a sad memory. I said I agreed, because I knew one of them had taken his own life a few years back. He nodded, we both sort of looked at each other, and then he told me another one had as well around the same time.

See, there were six guys, they all had morning routines, but they met for that 20 minutes or so for coffee and laughs, sometimes hung over, often times more powerful than the one next in their earnest desire to present their lives to one another – friends, coffee, beautiful summer mornings. I wondered about the remaining four, and how their lives had changed losing two friends, two members of a coffee clutch that seemed to last forever. I wondered about the true nature of a man’s loneliness to bring themselves to such desperate a measure as is, suicide.

See there is a lot of argument out there. A very dear friend of mine lost his brother many years ago to suicide. He would argue it is not a selfish act, whereby society for the most part might disagree because of the world left behind. But it is truly more than selfishness, because I would be willing believe not one successful suicide would ever imagine the fallout their actions will leave behind them. I do have to believe more often than not the act is one of a victim’s desperation so much so, they are unable to see any other options.

My friend and I on this day talked about the tragedy, and he said to me that there is more to life. He reminded me of his brother that he watched in chemo in a hospital room fighting every day of his life for a chance to live, and the same for all of the patients on that cancer ward.

See its hard to put it in a simple box of explanation. There certainly are those circumstances that lead to a sort of euthanasia frame of mind when struggling with a terminal and painful disease, but that raises the question of how some of the most afflicted people in the world will provide a more genuine smile than a healthy human being at the top of their game.

Suicide isn’t selective, we both agreed as we finished our coffee ready to go about our day. I think what was important for both of us was the validation of our existence and the appreciation for knowing two people whose lives had touched us in different ways and had made decisions we would always struggle to understand. In the meantime, we’d had a good talk and were lifted again in that standstill moment of time.