Path

If you stop to be kind you must swerve often from your path.

Mary Webb

 

I have stopped watching the nightly news. Which is totally unlike me. Usually wanting to know…What Is Going On. The importance of being informed and up-to-date was always at the top of my list. Part of being a responsible citizen.

It seems to me there used to be more balance. The good and the evil. The positive and the negative. Now all I do is wince. Our leaders fighting. Shouting. Accusing. Deaf to the voices of reason…or fairness…or empathy. Especially empathy. Unwilling to even pause and consider a different path.

Nightly Breaking News punches story after story. Announcements line up in 10 second sound bites. Assault…Abuse…Cheating…Lying…. Young child missing…young child found in a shallow grave. Inconsolable parent. Another shooting. Blurry security camera video. One more senseless loss of a sister, a brother.

The news anchor drones on, his face barely changing expression. Night after night.

Rarely would I see kindness…until the final 2 minutes of the broadcast. Showcasing an act of generosity. Compassion. Selflessness.

Good to know there are people still out there…
On a different path.

They deserve more than two minutes of air time.

 

 

walking trail

 

CFFC – Walks, Trails, Sidewalks

 

 

Answers

Part of teaching is helping students learn how to tolerate ambiguity, consider possibilities, and ask questions that are unanswerable.

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

 

questions

 

And what would they be…the unanswerable questions…

We ask them all the time. Naively. Believing answers are forthcoming. Nice, neat, tidy answer boxes we can check off…putting our minds at ease.

Humans need explanations. Logical reasons for behaviors…and difficult situations. Doubt disturbs the equilibrium we crave.

Children’s why questions…usually answerable…

Why do I need to wash my hands?
Why can’t I touch the stove…run into the street?

Until they’re not…

Why are those kids so mean?
How come grandpa had to die?

As time passes, the answers thin out. They don’t cut it.
We see through them. The holes.  The exceptions. The weaknesses. The path to newer questions. Black and white fading to gray.

In the end…sometimes no answers. Not really. We’ve lived too long to settle. We know better. But still…not why.

Why is she sick with cancer and I’m not?
Why can’t the doctors figure out what is wrong with me?

Shifting realities pose more questions than answers.
Humans don’t fit neatly into a category of reasons why.
Too much mystery. Too many unknowns. Intangibles.
Questions expand. And filter down to the universal…

What is life?
Why am I here?
What happens when I’m not?

~~~

I took a class in college – my one and only Philosophy course – entitled “Explanation” – and was immediately lost in a sea of questions. The professor with his PhD paced back and forth in front of rows of earnest young students like myself.  Trying to absorb his explanations of deep philosophical questions and answers. The existential questions of…life? To me…it might as well have been another language all together. I had no answers for him that I understood, but I offered them anyway on exams….and assigned papers. Fortunately the answers were good enough. To earn a B in the class.
I wonder how it would go if I were taking that class now….

 

 

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #39: Unanswerable

Give Peace (and Education) a chance

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.

Maria Montessori

 

IMG_8175

Vote YES for the middle school expansion!

Today is voting day in my small town. Or…as it was formerly known…Town Meeting Day. Or, more specifically, Town Meetin’ Day.

Many years ago, it was actually an open meeting for all town residents. Who assembled on folding chairs set up in the town hall. Votes were cast on various budget items and for the election of town officials. Attendees were given an opportunity to stand and voice support or opposition to the matters at hand. Sometimes a paper ballot. Sometimes just a voice vote.

Now, as the town has changed – and the population has increased – we vote in voting booths. In the former high school’s gymnasium. Exactly the same way we vote in the general elections.

Some may say these local elections are not all that important.
I disagree.
We are choosing the individuals who will sit on the School Board. We are voting for the members of the Board of Selectman, which governs our town. Making crucial decisions. Rules affecting how we live, where we live, where we park. Public safety. Fire trucks. Street signs. Police activity.  Water quality. Local businesses also absorbing the direct and indirect ramifications.

Today there are over 20 individual budget items to consider, including the annual operating budget. One item on the ballot – for the 3rd year in a row – is all about education.

The middle school desperately needs to be expanded and renovated. Each yearly proposal has slashed more of its requests to reduce the cost. Letters to the Editor in the local paper shout out We Need This! or A Waste of Money! Often implying that the senior citizens…or those without school age children…are the reason this hasn’t been approved.

The financial burden of property taxes (which is how our schools are financed) is real. I get that. But I also know that the dollar increase due to this ballot item is not extraordinary. It averages out to a few monthly meals at the local bar and grill over the course of a year. Maybe. Or a weekly latte at the coffee shop.

So I ask myself…why don’t people understand the significance of educating our children to the best of our ability? Why do they want to keep class sizes large and cram kids into a too-small cafeteria? No music room? Art on a cart? Educating the whole child…what happened to that, I wonder….and its ramifications if not done with care. And, yes, with some sacrifice.

As cliché as it sounds, it remains a fact: (Everyone’s) Children are the Future.

My children were raised in a different town than where I currently live. I will always be grateful to the citizens who voted in favor of school improvements and supported the teachers with the salaries they needed and deserved. Despite the sacrifice. I know many of those voters were senior citizens. Who had the foresight – and wisdom – to understand the need. And the significance.

Our children and their education is important.
Voting is crucial.
Let’s not take either for granted.

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One year later…

How hard it is to escape from places! However carefully one goes, they hold you — you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences, little rags and shreds of your very life.

Katherine Mansfield

 

office window
Desk View
February 26, 2019

~~~

And so it goes.

The places that define you.
House you. Comfort you.
Where you play. Where you learn.
Where you work. Where you love.
Climb. Fall. Get up. Explore.
Write.
Ones that remain
Ones you enjoy
All add up.
To the next.

 

One year ago today I published my first post on this blog.

I had recently moved to a new home. For the first time, I had a small room of my own. Complete with windows to let the sun shine in.

A new place to write. Reflect. Remember. Read. Share. Plan. Challenge.

And the best part?
…meeting other writers across the world in blogging land.

 

diaries line up

 

Love and Hearts and Grandparents

If we have someone who loves us — I don’t mean who indulges us, but who loves us enough to be on our side — then it’s easier to grow resilience, to grow belief in self, to grow self-esteem. And it’s self-esteem that allows a person to stand up.

Maya Angelou

 

 

from Grammy 1966

 

valentine's card 1967038
from Great Grandma 1967

 

I have much to be grateful for in my life. The love of family is at the top of the list. As a child…and then as an adult…I was well loved by my grandparents. Held up. Cherished. Accepted.

All four of my grandparents – and my one living great grandparent – took the time to write to me. Personal letters. Postcards. Valentines. Birthday cards….
I heard from them on a regular basis…knowing I was important in their lives. And not forgotten, even though we lived miles apart.

Treasured pages of handwritten news, stories, questions about my life and plans for the future….
Offering encouragement and understanding
And unconditional love.

 

Photo a day challenge – Hearts

RDP – Intimate

 

Quote of the day…hope of the day

light in forest

 

I have a certain way of being in the world, and I shall not, I shall not be moved from doing what I think is right by jealousy, ignorance, or hate.

Maya Angelou

 

When recently asked about “the haters” by an 8 year old boy, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady responded with a smile.

…the haters? We love ’em! We love ’em back!
Because we don’t hate back.

Just about knocked me off my feet getting dressed one morning last week. While watching Good Morning America’s “kid correspondent” interview football players at the pre-Super Bowl media events.

No matter what you think of TB12 or the Patriots or even football, that answer shines a bright light. What a concept: Love them back.

Perhaps easy for someone like Brady, who is privileged and insulated from those aforementioned haters. Who troll on his Instagram feed and who knows what else.

However…
What a concept for a child to hear from a public persona. A role model even.
And…dare I say…for adults to hear as well.
ADULTS.
Who, it seems, in the last couple of years have grouped themselves into political camps of haters…on one side or the other. Who is in charge in the USA. And who isn’t.

Notice I don’t say haters and non-haters. There is too little visible love on either side. There is just hate, distrust and fear for the “other.” Whether it be the other political party, the other politician, the Other who looks nothing like you or sounds nothing like you. Or doesn’t think like you.

In many cases, this fear slips out…crossing that invisible line…morphing into hurtful anger directed at those you profess to love. Your partner. Your parent. Your sister. Your brother. Your best friend. Your child. Because they disagree with what you hate. Or don’t hate.

How could he believe that?
How could she vote for him?
How could he vote for her?
I just can’t visit them anymore.

Is it fear…or ignorance…
Or perhaps inescapable helplessness.
Doors slamming
As reality tilts and shifts.

Right becoming righteous
When grounded in hate…
Blindly insisting on one way.
Shades of gray disappearing…
Crowding out space for understanding why…
And where do we go from here.

In the end
Reaching for what
is right
begins with
tolerance
respect…
for our shared humanity.

With empathy…
somehow…
someday…
hopefully
we will
inch
closer
to
loving the haters.

At least it’s a start.

 

IMG_7813 2 copy

 

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #34: Reaching
and An Upside Down World