Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Date: Fri 4/23/2004 3:47 AM
It 5:16 am by the computer clock. Here I am in front of the computer with my finger composing their own choreography, resting only to pick up the cup of hot, freshly brewed Kona coffee. Hit the streets almost as soon as I hit the floor. 4:04 am. It was a delightful walk. Getting in shape for trodding the himalyan streets of San Mateo doubtlessly accompanied by a local Yeti in two weeks. Mid 50s. Shirtless. Five miles--at last. Had Mercury's wings on my New Balances. Less than an hour--finally. Alone, but never lonely. In myself with myself. Slowly in harmony with the silent world around me. I breathed slowly. I drew in deep breaths. My feet and lungs were in rhythm. No labor. No grimacing aches or pains. Just smiling joy. Inhaled the fresh early morning smells. I relished the rich, spring colors glowing in both the bright moonlight and the lamplight. Paid attention to the melodic whistle of the birds. Felt the cool air rushing around me. For five miles, I was conscious of and aware of and sensitive to every movement, the way my hips swayed, my thighs lifted, my knees bent, my ankles hinged, my hands swung, and my fingers clenched and wiggled. I was aware of what this rhythm of movement and flow was doing. I was exercising my mind, body, and spirit. I was in mobile meditation, mindfulness in motion, every time my foot hit the asphalt street or concrete sidewalk. It brought before me the whole mystery of existence. It's so hard not to be thankful, not to appreciate the world in which I live, and not to be grateful to be alive and part of life. This physical exercise is my path to spiritual energy. It all brings a deep sense of oneness within me that gets me ready for and stays with me all the coming day.
Today, to the step by step cadence, I quickly found myself unexpectedly listing off a series of "I." It was the full answer to a question posed by a colleague a few weeks ago as we met by chance in front of West Hall. I was going to class, bouncing along, carrying a heavy box filled with weekly journals, my boom box singing some Barry White, stopping to small talk to some students, laughing with them, arching my back to counterbalance the load. As I turned to enter the building, I bumped into a colleague who was coming out from the building with a dancing "Hey, ....... How are you doing today?
"Where do you get all the energy you spend?" he quickly asked.
I stopped even though the heavy box was ripping my arms out from my shoulder sockets. Knowing that he reads my stuff, I answered something like, "From living to the full letter and spirit of my Alphabet of Teaching." "But," I added, "the interesting thing is that my Alphabet of Teaching has to be also my Alphabet of Living. I get my energy from realizing each minute, each day, my life is what I choose to make of them. Life is too precious, teaching is too precious to waste it on annoyance or worse, and not have fun and just enjoy."
He smiled. I smiled. We headed off in opposite directions.
I've thought about that brief exchange a lot lately. The last few weeks have been an interesting mix. They've been seismic to say the least. Heck, they've been a test: a relatively new roof with a serious leak coming through the hallway ceiling and the roofer having gone bankrupt and nowhere to be found, a few unexpected "deep" and personal conversations with struggling and troubled students, swarming honey bees in a wall of the house, the birth of our second grand-daughter, swarming termites in another wall of the house, the rising joy of the impending birth our our third grand-daughter, ripping out two outside walls and a ceiling of the den, a humbling letter from a student, dealing with the prospect of prostrate cancer, getting a cleam bill of heath from the biopsy and other tests, an exchange with whom I hope is a new-found e-colleague and friend, the prospect of having surgery to fuse a badly arthritic left big toe (maybe after getting a second and third opinion). Yeah, it's been an "interesting" few weeks.
Looking back on this Richter period, I've decided that it's true. Each encounter is mine to make of it what I will. I control everything that goes on inside even if I can't control what goes on outside. After thinking about it long and hard, after walking on it long and hard, I've decided that I want to enjoy life and want to make each day as full as I can; I am never really satisfied making excuses or rationalizations; I never really feel comfortable laying blame; I never feel comfortable settling for less than what I am capable of achieving--whatever that is; I always want to live up to my potential--whatever that is. I want to make a difference and use my abilities toward that transforming use. I don't always do it, and I don't like me when I don't do it, but I never take a "no" from myself.
So, where do I get my energy? Here is where that list of "I" I drew up on the walk this morning comes in: I enjoy; I love; I play; I relax; I exercise; I imagine; I meditate; I create; I balance; I celebrate; I share:
I am excitedly aware I am thankfully mindful I always feel the wind in my face I usually let go and don't hold on I don't blame I willingly attend to, to encourage, to support I choose the positive over the negative I keenly look for, hear out for, see, and listen to newness every day I make sure that I learn something new every day I treat each day with newness I accept imperfection and pain as a part of life; I just don't get mired in them I stand back so that I can revel in the moment, grin at the silly, not be serious with myself I see through the creative eye of an artist, the always something to toy with, the always something to shape and reshape, the always something to pull and stretch. I loudly celebrate I go to the movies I live today; I have learned not to dig up and worry about what is coming; I have learned how to throw the heavy "what has been" off my back and bury it I exercise my body regularly; I power walk four to five miles every other day I exercise my mind regularly; I do crossword puzzles every morning I exercise my soul regularly; I enjoy silence by myself so that I can add substance and subtract superficial stuff from my life I never feel stuck in a rut of routine I love what I do and do what I love I sing in the rain I blow on dandelions I am a "nudge" with my angelic Susan I have refused to "grow up" and see myself as an "experienced teenager." I seek help from fellow listeners and see-ers I unconditionally believe and have faith simply because the person is there I unconditionally have hope simply because the person is there I am religious, but not in a structural, ritual, and ceremonial way I unconditionally give because the person is there I love without expectation of return because the person is there I don't wait for the perfect moment I don't expect the perfect student or moment I don't "push it" I am not consumed I take things in stride and place them in perspective I relish my cups of freshly brewed coffee I am always in physical, intellectual, spiritual motion I don't apologize for my authenticity I never feel I have to prove anything to anyone I never feel I need to impress others I don't feel guilty about my uniqueness I don't feel self-conscious about my growing spirituality I am not embarrassed by loving each student I don't hesitate to take risks because I learn from them I don't feel the lesser by making mistakes because I learn from them I am respectful I never offer advice because people need loving presence more than solutions or judgement I take on what others see as impossibility because I only see possibility I look for the challenge because I see it as opportunity I read a book I watch a sports game, especially Tarheel basketball I watch a television show I garden I sculpt I imagine I make mistakes I design I build I do carpentry, plumbing, tiling, painting, plastering, I write poetry I remodel I venture I meditate I experiment I am comfortable with an "oops" I stretch my body, my mind, my spirit so that my reach exceeds my grasp I laugh and smile, laugh and smile, laugh and smile I share my learning I share my discoveries I share my stories I share myself I enjoy; I love; I play; I relax; I exercise; I imagine; I create; I celebrate; I share.I just sent this list to my colleague (yeah, he'll get another copy) with this added note I'd like to share with you.
"Doing all of this requires a lot of preparation and being prepared. They each take a lot of struggle. They're so commanding and demanding. They each demand attention, demand adventure, demand demanding self-reflection and self-examination, demand uncomfortable honesty, demand inconvenience and discomfort, demand I ask the big questions and not settle for the short term and comfortable answers, demand lots of both learning and discovery, and consume a lot--a lot--of commanding energy.
Let me let you in on a little secret I learned yesterday from being a listener for a tearful student. Give and you will receive. You'll receive two-fold, five-fold, ten-fold, a hundred-fold. When you live your life as your prayer, when you transform everything into compassion for others, when you use everything in the service of others, when you use everything to be aware and mindful of others, when you use everything to understand and be sensitive to others, when you use everything to comfort others, when you use everything to lift up others, when you use everything to make a difference in the lives of others, when you use everything to be a "lidlifter," a "life changer," a "transformer," you do all that for yourself as well. And so, to answer your question you threw at me in front of West, the curious thing is that while all this does consume a lot energy, there is nothing like them to create a heck of a lot more energy and energize me."
It's getting late. Gotta "run" to mediate for class.
Make it a good day. --Louis-- Louis Schmier firstname.lastname@example.org Department of History www.therandomthoughts.com Valdosta State University www.halcyon.com/arborhts/louis.html Valdosta, GA 31698 /~\ /\ /\ 912-333-5947 /^\ / \ / /~\ \ /~\__/\ / \__/ \/ / /\ /~\/ \ /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\ -_~ / "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\ _ _ / don't practice on mole hills" - \____