Monday, December 31, 2012

And yet we do it anyway...

As the sun ends its few days of rest and starts to ache its way back northward, as it has done now for eons, long before language, long before lungs, folk in this part of the world reflect, briefly, on what we think matters.

We make promises, as we have before, and as we will again, to change.

“Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance”
T.S. Eliot

We know what matters, we know what make us and others happy, we know the stories and the songs and the food and the people that make us happy.

We know all this.

We know that choices we make, staying too long at a meeting that goes nowhere, giving tests that matter to no one, playing with our virtual pleasure machines that steal our living hours, are bad choices.

And yet I do them anyway....

So no resolutions this year, except one--to minimize the "yet we do it anyway" hours. I'd be better off sitting in silence, in the dark, alone with thoughts spiraling out of control than pretending that anything I do rationally with folks I do not know, and cannot love because I do not know them, matters.

“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
T.S. Eliot

If the silence becomes too loud, I will seek the words of someone I know, and love, and care about, not another virtual voice.

I have never regretted a single moment outside....


Kate said...

yes, I know this device can suck away time and attention -BUT - without it, I would not have 'met' you.

Lee said...

Keep reminding us of what's important Michael. It's so easy to forget. And it happens so quickly.
But don't bash the virtual too has let old friends reunite, if only in a cyber sort of way ;).]

P.S. Me neither. Either. Whatever.

doyle said...

Dear Kate and Lee,

You are both right, and I am lucky to know both of you, very lucky.

(Lee and I go way, way back--she was one of the few thinkers I knew back in the 70's.)

And I love your PS.

Mark Ahlness said...

It all matters. Thank you for your thoughts. They have made a difference to people you will never know. That includes me. And my friends. And theirs. Peace - Mark

Susan Eckert said...

You matter. A great deal. What you say matters. A great deal. Even if you could teach whatever you want, there would be students that would not care at the moment. The moment, though, is the operative word.

You take the curriculum and you show them the beauty. It takes a long time to see the beauty and some will get a glimpse and it may be fleeting but fleeting beauty is better than no beauty. And you lay the foundation for many. Biology is a thing of beauty because despite all the complexities of life, there are themes that run throughout, cycles that have no beginning or end (that we know of or can comprehend). There is no way that I can imagine that anyone in HS can truly appreciate the grand, overarching themes in biology--not like you do. But for those lucky few that will someday possess this knowledge and deep appreciation, there has to be a decent foundation and you lay it down for them, even a few bricks is better than none. You don't do piecemeal education and no matter what curriculum the state gives you, you will never do piecemeal.

Your students are very, very lucky. Grades matter to some and for those that are hurt by the grades they get, the hurt will fade (I think, I hope) and they will be left with the beauty of growing wheat or little baby cucumbers on a windowsill or pill bugs in a little, armored ball or Daphnia dancing about. And horseshoe crabs spawning on a beach. And grass shrimp jumping in a seining net.

Happy New Year, Michael! May 2013 be another year of wonder and beauty.

doyle said...

Dear Mark,

Thank you for the kind words--I read you recently retired, and that makes me sad. I know you earned it, and I trust you use your time well, but sorry to see a strong voice like yours leave the classroom...but see below.

Dear Susan,

Folks might not get the gushing, so I'll share what they do not know--we were a mentor/mentee team the past few months, and Susan, who was a prominent voice in the Alzheimer research world, left to teach high school biology.

As Mark left the classroom, Susan entered it, and we will need more like her to keep our school relevant. She is far better than I was at her stage, and she will surpass me in the next year or two, which is more than fine with me.

It's why we do what we do.

Unknown said...

I love this reflection. With regards to doing what I think is harmful to children, I'm going to try harder to fight against it. It might lead me to a change in context, if necessary. Not sure what it looks like yet.

With regards to the virtual, I go in spurts. I take a month off two or three times a year. But I appreciate the virtual environments. I consider you a friend. Someday we'll have a pint. Someday.

Kathryn J said...

I'm late to the conversation. I have made and met many friends through this box. We have met in their location or mine and a group of us even went on vacation together.

Sadly, with my current job including four preps, if it were not for the box and asynchronous communication. I might have lost all contact with those outside my immediate family. Some say its superficial but to me connections are real whether through a box or face-to-face.

Without the box, I would be far less connected with family and old friends. I would like to meet you and Leslie some day - perhaps even just to have a look at the area where you dig for clams. You help me keep my sanity in the face of this crazy world that is education today. I am grateful


doyle said...

Dear John

We will share a pint (or two), and it people like you, Kate, and Kathryn that reveal my (huge) inconsistencies.

The folks I have felt friendly with online that I eventually met (and there have been a generous number of them) have always proven to be even more interesting than I imagined them to be from their words alone. I know others online have not always been as lucky, but I have enough experience to know that these relationships are real (if still amazing peculiar to those of us born many decades ago).

Dear Kathryn,


I fear the box--more than I should sometimes, and not enough other times--because of my own confusions of what is real, and what is not. If it's any consolation, I feel the same way about malls and theme parks, too. =)

I value the remarkable words I see through this box, from remarkable people I have never met.

OTOH,last night I hugged my neighbor after learning a pet died, and while we can see each other online, nothing can replace voices and touch.

But you already know this, as do just about all of my friends.

Just call me Curmudgeon.