Five Days, Five Photos – Day Two; On Diversity

hands

© Ester Rogers photography

I have this notion, that if we could sometime just put all of our fears aside, and recognize one another for our beauty and grace, there wouldn’t be nearly as much anxiety in our lives. Perhaps I am speaking for myself, but I really do wonder. I know many years ago, a friend of mine told me that everyone walks around with relatively similar ideas rolling through their mind. He gave me that advice in a manner to suggest that instead of feeling alone all the time with our greatest worries, we might be better served to appreciate how many of us could share the same support with one another, and this positive energy could provide us a better life, sweeter outlook on our state of being.

I am using the picture above to recognize a photographer friend – Ester Rogers – who does wonderful work with her eye. Because I am writing about diversity with the inspiration of Dancing Echoes prompting, I thought this picture worthy of some words. You see, there is something quite beautiful about the weathered hands struggling to create the ‘love’ sign, the symbolic ‘I ‘heart’ you’ suggestion we so often put aside in our busy lives. I do genuinely love people, and wish only the best in their daily routines, even those I struggle to understand sometimes. This leads toward my theme of diversity.

I work in a diverse school district. I have opportunity everyday to experience many levels of cultural variety, that separate individuals while ironically bringing them together on a daily basis. I always look at our diversity as an opportunity. I walk around the school and see students with smiles and appreciations for each other and those are the moments I want to build upon. Those are the relationships that, given the strength to grow create a foundation for our district, our community to become something special – a place where everyone can realize their self-worth and carve out an identity buily upon positive tenets. I think that common denominator, no matter the deprecation, despite the stumbling blocks, however the obstacles, has to rely upon ‘love’ to be that basis for growth.

Tonight, I’m not writing a poem, this will be an essay as I conclude. In looking back at Ester’s picture though, I want to point out the harmony with the symbol of love, and the candle’s energy, the fire within. As long as we can keep that candle burning, and we can because we like to believe our heart and soul to be in the right place. As long as we can continue to recognize the powerful nature of that symbiotic nature of two dependent forces working towards a common goal, then I think we can look forward to beautiful lives ahead. I know that is idyllic.

Imagine a world without idealism. There wouldn’t be a tremendous need to hope and pray, for without the chance of magic and beauty and grace in our lives, we would be hard pressed to care about anything around us. But we do care, and it is our responsibility to continue to show compassion toward all things we find to be important in our lives. Tonight, namely showing acceptance and delight in the fortunes and gifts of everyone around us in our daily interactions. I think in order to be truly diverse, means our willingness to share those ideals rather than snuff them out in an idle and cold gasp of ego driven pride.

In respect to our nomination for the Five Days, Five Photos theme, I would like to now nominate another writing friend – Dana Renee – whose deep state of mind always intrigues … be well everyone!

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We Will Weep

RW

I cannot get the movie ‘What Dreams May Come’ out of my head tonight. I keep thinking about the beauty of pastels, our next life, world, human reality. A vision of ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ keeps running through my mind, as I see the professor walking his new students along the auspicious predecessors of their educational benefits. ‘Oh Captain, My Captain’ we do miss you tonight, and we will weep for you this evening. I am not alone in following the zany alien in ‘Mork and Mindy’ 35 years ago. I was a year out of high school, a depressed teenager not knowing where my future led, and that show, and Mork’s spontaneous humor helped me to laugh despite myself. But these were all characters that Robin Williams played over his remarkable career. His most difficult role has always been living with himself.

Shortly before he died, Rodney Dangerfield said his lifestyle was one of the loneliest possible. Despite making people laugh on a daily basis, he walked around, the real Rodney, sad and depressed. I have to believe that Jonathan Winters, Robin’s mentor dealt with difficult days. Winters and Williams were both diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, an ‘affliction’ that led to their creative energy, but equally drained them of their own realistic outlooks on life. Jonathan was a master at his craft, he lived a whole life. Robin was his student, who continued to seek the truth in his own life. In the end, he couldn’t fight through the demons that thoroughly buried him in his personal hell.

We’re supposed to be unforgiving of those who choose to take their own lives before their time. I have experienced losses in my life that have left me confused and angry. I have wondered why people give up, and not supported their horrid decisions. I have lost both friend and acquaintance, and certainly felt the confusion with celebrity loss, those iconic people that entertain us, and remind us of their inherent talents on a constant basis. I questioned Pete Duel when he took his own life ending my favorite series, Alias Smith and Jones in 1972. I was twelve and had just lost my cousin to tragedy. I didn’t understand, I just knew they were not coming back; at least that is what my family tried to make me believe. I was upset. My life went on.

Our lives are vulnerable enough beyond the insidious nature of depression. So many aspects of our ‘pull up your bootstraps’ society refuses to acknowledge this misery is real in the lives of those closest to us and the people that compel us to the silver screen. Tonight, I do weep for Robin Williams because he lost his battle, and chose the only option he believed, having removed himself from support systems that probably held him together for years. I cry for his spouse, who is left to live with the memory of his finality. Her request is that we all spend our time remembering the joy this man brought to our lives. I will do that with tears.

Grateful

Hello everyone, all of you delightful and inspirational bloggers out there. It is high time I thank you for the journey you have set me on with your writing and craft. I began this travel a little over a year and a half ago, I suppose a few months earlier than that, but things began to get pretty serious around March of 2013. In April of 2013 there came the ‘poem a day’ challenge, that complemented National Poetry Month, and for the first time in over 30 years, I stuck to the plan. I know it had a lot to do with the people here, and your support, your ideas, and your wonderful and intriguing writing.

To me, writing has always been a release (familiar words) but even more so in these blogs I have been able to shell out some of the skeletons in my closet, albeit mild in relation to Stephen King I suppose – man how does that guy live with himself? My writing has allowed me to gain greater confidence in my words, and a lot of it has to do with an extremely welcoming community of bloggers.

So now as my summer begins to close, and I think about returning to my classroom, I am confident my pace will continue as is, and I will forever delight in the fabulous array of creative and genuine energy these pages offer all of us.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to be a writer, again.

Thom

 

Slated Departures

“Why it’s easy”, she told him as he looked to her for guidance. Simply make it a priority and it will happen. In his mind, all he could think about was this didn’t happen in his world. It was far too expensive for one, not to mention that so many other things mattered. She had done it before, and for her the sense of departure was real, attainable, and frankly necessary for her well-being. She was not nearly as tied down to the landscape that he felt described his every being. In all of his 25 years, he had only imagined the other world. He’d read books, watched television shows, and certainly grasped the imagery of the world apart from him with much romantic flair. Often he would take on the persona of a character he embraced, dress like him, act and express in that manner, and finally try to speak in his tongue. There’s where it stopped though. And now today, he was contemplating this adventure.

He told her he would have to quit his job, he was too expendable to receive a leave of absence, so this was certainly a factor. She responded to him with words that were clearly the reason he loved her. “This is life right now”, she said, and her smile beckoned him to trust her and he did, with a kiss that became an embrace in the morning sunlight. He had never been so happy in his life. Every part of that old familiar loneliness was gone, and he looked into her eyes and saw the future, and believed he needed to allow this delightful woman to move him forward. He began to plan in his head, and she knew the second she caught his eye, this was happening. She grinned, and stepped away, sat on the sofa and began to page through the morning paper, glancing back at him for a moment to make sure his wheels were still rolling, which they were, he was beside himself with excitement.

He quietly then, in his own fantasy, began to envision sitting in a corner cafe, the cobblestone stretching beyond his eyes, becoming a village facade. He sipping tea, and she, writing while consciously guiding this man through a world he a day ago, could only imagine.

On Fathers

I thought all week about how I might write a poem about Father’s Day, and maybe it will come to me later in the day, but for now, I decided I will just talk about it, and perhaps provide my own insight into the phenomena of fatherhood. I am a father to two lovely children that I am so proud of in every way. I am blessed by their beauty, their genuine free spirit, and their passion for life. I find myself often humbled by how wonderful they are, and know I cannot take complete responsibility as my caring and focused spouse has provided such a strong sense of guidance for our children, and certainly me. Yet in additions, there are other reasons, and I need to get back to the father aspect of this writing.

When I was a child, I knew my father to be the bread-winner; however, he was the 50’s stereotype of the gone all week, and home for the weekend master of the house. He married a woman that worked all of her life in education, a smart woman indeed, so that generalization of the man doing all the work in the public eye, and the woman behind the scenes did not apply in our family. However, the genre of father and mother were clear in my eyes. I do recall the many moments of ‘wait until your father gets home’ putting me into a state of frozen anxiety, moving to, ‘we’ll keep this between ourselves’ on the notion of dad finding out about any number of adolescent misgivings I endured as a teenager. And there were many, but I digress.

My dad used to take me fishing when I was a kid. That is surely one of my fondest memories. He taught me how to work a stream, to find pools in a river, how to clean fish, and respect the land. We would start out early in the morning, 5 AM, and I would be asleep in the car by the time we left the driveway at first, but then I would wake and listen as he said, ‘this looks like a spot’ and would literally crawl his Plymouth across the gravel leading up to an old iconic bridge over a stream in anywhere Northern Wisconsin. We would get out of the car and step on the gravel with such delicacy to not make a sound, clicking the car doors in their engagement rather than full thrust slapping the metal. Our fishing gear in hand we would step along the steep side of a bridge and make our way to the river, the pool ‘where they are waiting for us’ being ever so careful to not shift rocks so they would avalanche to the water. I do recall on occasion where that very thing happened, and he would look at me and I would look at him, and we would both have knowing expressions that suggested we drive away and come back later. That’s what we did. That’s what I did with my father growing up, learning from him the patience, the grace, and the respect of nature and all of Her natural bounty.

My dad is beloved in his community of friends and family. Yet, I recall often a pained expression on his beautiful face, but as I get older, I no longer think it was pained as much as him always being alert to what can he do now to help the people around him have a better day. He was indeed a self-driven man, but around people a giving, thoughtful and delightful human being.

So today, as we recognize our fathers I look to my dad, and I am grateful for the lessons he gave me that I have and still can now attempt to instill on my own beautiful children and family. We are fortunate, we are granted the responsibility of raising a family together, and we do so with certain vigorous passion. I am thankful to be a dad, and grateful to have the tutelage that my father gave me in his own manner. I wish that upon all of the children of dad’s across the world today. Please know there are many rewards to our patriarchal society. We can recognize the fortunate freedom of knowing, for some, we truly were the apple in our father’s eyes.

Happy Father’s Day world!

A Conversation (prose)

peace

dialogue

I went to lunch with a friend today and we got onto the subject of coping skills. We’re both teachers and we encounter a lot of teenagers on a regular basis, most of which carry a lot of baggage into the classroom each day. There are times when we truly do not get the full extent of what is happening in their lives being so caught up in our own need to deliver an assignment, a lesson plan, an expectation. We seldom take the time to ponder a world outside of our own.

My friend began the dialogue by referencing a particularly charming young individual whom we both have had extensive interactions with. I mentioned this student’s personal struggles, and he agreed and we both immediately remarked about how this young person’s integrity is such a measure of their character surrounded by the constraints of having to survive in a society that can be ruthless and demanding. I looked at my friend and remarked about how times like this make my more prominent issues become rather trivial and this reality leaves me feeling shallow in the light of another’s personal struggles. He followed with a theory that we all provide ‘gifts’ in our own unique manner. I knew what he was saying but it certainly didn’t give me an opportunity to feel like I was off the hook.

We both chose teaching for the chance to change people’s lives in a positive way. We certainly didn’t choose this profession with a goal in mind to make our charges feel miserable. In education today, we are in an ever-changing atmosphere of new initiatives and proposals to address and hopefully change the way we teach our students. A lot of that focus is to better education, and reduce the constant scrutiny that schools, and more importantly in this case, teachers receive in regards to their ability to prepare children for a successful future. Conversations like this one often leave me feeling curious, not confused mind you, but simply wanton of a solution to my purpose both in the classroom and in my life.

Having the ability to know why we are who we are and what we will become is a huge asset when determining our path in life. I can easily use nostalgic memory and pointedly look at different periods of my life and know the mess I was as perceived by the society around me, and with more certainty my own evaluation of my accomplishments as I plodded through a couple of directionless decades of my young adult life. Today, I look back and recognize the frailties of my actions, and I also am left to consider how my life choices might have brought different results had I been more conscious of my future. I may sit in a room of group recovery and not have to wait long before someone makes the common remark, “I don’t regret any of the mistakes I made in my life. They have helped me become the person I am today.” Though there certainly is truth to that analogy, one must I believe, also acknowledge that those ‘life-changing’ mistakes could have been easily avoided, and life might have been a tad easier than the challenges that consumed the reparation of those errors. Ok, so back to my point of conversation amongst friends.

What today’s conversation left me with is contemplating how relative our lives may be in the bigger scheme of things. That seems like a shallow outcome at this writing, but it is what I am left with at the moment. When I think about a student who has lost someone at a young age, and is asked to return to their daily identity without missing a beat, I find myself rather impressed with that resilience. That reality makes my life feel trivial as I said earlier, so what do I do about it? Here is my partial solution.

I will appreciate the beauty of their being, their ability to endure the travesty or choices that have been placed before them, certainly not their own choosing. I will offer my own support and admiration for their ability to capture the true essence of natural humility that has allowed their lives to become easier within the face of pure terror and sadness, and express my gratitude for their showing me how to recognize the sweeter realities of our existence as human beings on this earth.

Feels like a God moment to me now … I do cherish these conversations!