Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Tue 10/29/2002 3:44 AM
Random Thought: A Spider and M.I.T. Students

It's Sunday afternoon. Here I am. In the Atlanta airport on the way back to Valdosta, again. This time coming from Boston. As ever, waiting. This is getting very old. There's a saying in Georgia: when you die, your soul goes to Atlanta and has to wait three hours before continuing its journey. Sitting here on the floor in the Atlanta airport already for almost three hours, I can appreciate that. And, while I am not yet dead, my feet are entering rigor mortis and my butt is already deadened. I guess that counts.

NOw, I just am waiting to see if my puddle-hopper flight will be cancelled due to "maintenance." I finished both my crossword puzzle and book. So, I may as well jot down some stuff that's been mulling around in my head for the last day or two.

I was at a family get-together Friday night. When someone asked why I was in Boston, I told them that the next day I was giving a leadership workshop at M.I.T. to freshmen enrolled in an internship program. Boy, were they impressed. You should have seen eyes open wide and have heard the excited tonal "oohs," "aahs" in their responses. "M.I.T!!! Wow!!!" I had the same reaction among my colleagues on campus when I told them specifically where I was going this weekend. And, you know something? When I told them that I had given both a keynote address and a teaching workshop at a conference of faculty teaching remedial students, all I got was little more than yawning, disinterested, polite "that's nice," ho-hum, sedated "oh's."

In the same breath my relatives were starry-eyed by some "halo effect" about M.I.T., they were telling me how the people in their town of Newton "look down on UMass," and students who were going there were embarrassed to publically admit it as if it would be a sing of inferiority and an admission of failure. So, why do they get entranced by young people attending M.I.T. on one hand and look down upon those going to UMass on the other? Why do they hold up the M.I.T. students as if they are of a higher order of being set far apart from and more than a notch above mere mortal, "ordinary," inferior UMass students?

I'll just say without going into detail that in the few minutes I small talked with the M.I.T. students, I found they were a neat, diverse, down-to-earth bunch young adults whose humanity was not much different from any other person. They were experiencing the same slings and arrows of life's outrageous fortune no less than any other person their age. Some were homesick, some weren't used to the big city, some were here because of the big city, some were unsure of their future, some were unsure if they really belonged and could "cut it," some were here because of parental expectation and demand, some had romantic issues, some had financial distractions, etc, etc, etc. If anything, I quickly heard that after only a few months at their institution, how more than a few of them were already experiencing the imposed and self-imposed pressure of having to live up to the enormous expectations of their top billing.

There is a tiny spider a few feet from me walking along the carpet unaware of the danger to its existence by the "splat potential" of the parade of hurried human feet. As I watched that tiny, nearly invisible arachnid scurry about, it comes to me. Here is a crowd of towering, self-proclaimed centers of creation mingling with this supposed intruding, insignificant lower order creature. Of which does Nature take most notice? Whom does Mother Nature nurture the most?

I don't think Nature imposes limiting and segreating labels. She is not prejudiced by size or longevity. She doesn't disdain what lives only for a day and glorifies what lives for a millenia. She gives the whole of herself into the tiniest no less than into the elephantine. Nothing is invisible to her; nothing is inferior to her; nothing is insignificant to her; nothing doesn't belong; nothing is ordinary to her; nothing is ugly to her. She is a lover of all life. For Mother Nature, every living creature is sacred. She pours the whole of herself into each and every creature.

Why don't we academics do to the same as Nature with each and every student? Why don't we break the modern day man-made and man-impose chain of being, break the habit of unnatural limitation, compartmentalization, separation, segregation, fragmentation, disconnection, categorization, gradation, and evaluation. Why don't we see each and every student as a sacred human being? Why don't we give everything we have to each and every one of those human beings? Why don't we do whatever it takes for each student? Why don't we treat each and every one of them as a special and extraordinary human being? Why don't we be lovers of life, of all life, of the lives of each and every student?

If we realize that the ordinary straw within us and strewn around us is potential gold we will struggle to learn how to work the spinning wheel.

Did I say I finished my book? It's Jack Kornfield's A PATH WITH HEART. I don't think it's finished with me.

There's the boarding call.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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