I decided today that I would move forward with the passion and purpose necessary to fulfill my dream of being paid to be a “writer”. I read recently about a gym that charges their members for “not working out”! Brilliant idea! People definitely respond to having their wallets emptied! Although my loving husband and best friend would enjoy the folly of such a pursuit, and he would gladly serve as chief accountant/auditor, I don’t want to go to the extreme of tying my bank account to my writing activity at this point. Still, the gym example did lead me to think about how I could “walk the writer walk” and stop simply “talking the writer talk”. If we study examples of successful people in any number of career fields, we invariably see individuals who took their initial step in faith, followed by another step and then another. Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism, born in the 6th century BC, said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” So beginning today, I’ll write as if I was being paid to write, and not just about what I’m inspired to write about, but what is given to me. I’ll be using a gorgeous coffee table book, titled Devotions, Wisdom from the Cradle of Civilization, by Danielle and Oliver Follmi. It’s a book of daily quotations and images, said to be collected for all of us who are conscious of “the great mystery” and for all of us who will see ourselves in the journey through the book. I’ll be writing daily, journeying through the quotations and images, with no days off, not even weekends. I’m officially signing up for a self –promulgated “Writer Boot Camp”! Semper Fi and OOH-RAH !
June 14, 2011
“Knowing the world too well-the belief in a preconceived definition of the world and one’s fate- is an obstacle to human freedom.” Marc-Alain Quaknin, 20th-21st century.
From the first day that we tearfully walk away from our toddler at the door of the preschool, we open wide the floodgates of the ocean of possibilities existing outside the walls of their previous realm, their familial homes and our loving arms. Until this point, we are the only “variety” of women, men, mothers, fathers, siblings, etc., that our children may have ever known. On this monumental day, as we choke back tears and yet know in our hearts that we are doing the right thing by walking away, we gift our children with an as yet unexplored world, one which they must learn to navigate and find their sea legs in. We, having given them the gift of exploration, have lifted the veil on their heretofore biased view of the world. We have removed obstacles from their path and have given them a toddler size portion of freedom. It’s there at preschool, where they discover the imaginative play centers, where they can literally “try on” firefighter hats and chef’s aprons, or pretend to be doctors, nurses, teachers, or construction workers. It is there that we may first gift them with the knowledge that their fate is not known, that their world is expanding, and they are free to explore their place and purpose, to ultimately discover their chosen role in the grand play of life, with no parameters of fate or predestination.
As we grow through childhood, adolescence, and even young adulthood, we experience incremental increases in freedoms and try on numerous figurative hats, as we begin experimenting with who we are to become. We first learn to believe that which we are “allowed” to believe. For instance, we often adopt our parents’ religious and political views, unless and sometimes until, we are allowed the liberty of being exposed to the views of others. It is said that a truly educated person is one who admits that compared to the knowledge they have, there is much more to be known. If we believe this, and believe that we are able to explore the universe unfettered and establish our preferred place in it, then even in the face of obstacles, we will not be satiated with a path uncharted, a possibility untried.
It’s difficult to believe that even today, in the year 2011, there are geographic locales on our planet where women and children, especially, (but not exclusively) are being born into and incarcerated by predestined fates. These are also, not coincidentally, places where worldly knowledge, or that outside a particular culture’s given body of beliefs, is barred. One might generalize that those of us who don’t reside in 3rd or 4th world countries, those of us who were not born into cultures in which certain freedoms are precluded, find the idea of predestined fates unpalatable. However, to do so, would be presumptive. One would have to presume that everyone had the same access to an identical body of knowledge, and that every child among us is raised to believe that “the world is their oyster”. Unfortunately, that is not the case and many preconceived definitions of the world and one’s fate exist. There are frequently socio-economic threads that run through these comfortable, attractive,and beautifully tailored definitions which serve as metaphorical blinders placed on some children. For those children in higher socio-economic groups, the blinders sometimes and often innocently, limit their knowledge of any other way of living, believing, or achieving. For those children in lower socio-economic groups, the blinders are often the same familiar ones worn by their parents , providing protection from failure and low self-worth. In both of these instances, we find perfect portraits of innocence and ignorance as bliss.
As a teacher, my lesson plan objectives vary daily, as we progress through the various curriculums and pacing guides. However, there is one constant, one objective that I am able to document with “ditto” marks, each and every instructional period. That objective is to enable students to be independent learners, to accept and yes, even revel in, their personal responsibility and ability to gain knowledge, to loosen the manacles of ignorance, and to broaden their horizons.
I want them to hear and believe that no matter who they are or where they’ve come from, where they go is up to them. This year I plan to illustrate the point by having each student stand at the center of a large paper circle by their desk. The center of the circle will represent their current place in the universe ( and not the center of the universe, as some 6th grade minds will reason). I’ll start by asking them how many degrees there are in each circle and connect the answer, 360, with the number of individual paths / individual straight lines radiating out , and upon which, they might travel from that point. I’ll remind them that on each and every one of those lines there are a limitless number of points upon which they can choose to stop, and experience life, and perhaps diverge on a different path. I’ll conclude by asking them to imagine how many different spots, like the one they’re standing on, that there are in the world, and how many different choices they have. Hopefully this kinesthetic activity and the concept illustrated will be a memorable one that they’ll carry with them wherever they choose to go.
As a perpetual student and proponent of life-long learning, I pray that I never claim to believe that I “know the world too well.” I hope that my examples of curiosity and awe will create similar yearnings for knowledge within all of those who I’m held responsible for guiding.
Peace, Love, and Freedom