Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Sun 8/15/2004 4:30 AM
Random Thought: I Know....

I went out this morning, darting between the drops of a quiet rain. My walk this morning was a more intense "just to..." meditative time than usual. My brother's funeral last week and the getting the juices flowing in readiness for the beginning of the semester Monday have placed me in a particularly pensive mood. It's at these moments I set aside distracting outside noise and confusion for a little while to focus intently inside. I relax my mind, relax my body, and energize my spirit. It's in these moments that I let go of my concerns for a bit and simply experience the depth and wonder of being alive. It's in these moments that I get myself ready for the challenges the day invariably will throw at me, and prepare to sow and reap the abundant uniqueness that is already within me.

I was thinking this damp morning that through reflective questions I can learn so much about me from my dreams and desires; that if I struggle to understand sincerely the reasons and the purposes behind those dreams, I will have a better understanding of who I am; that the more I struggle to know about myself and about what drives me, the more effective every effort and every moment will become. So, this morning, I searched out for what I think I know about my dreams, drives, and me. This is some of what I came up with.

I know:

that as a teacher, my lasting leadership doesn't really rest in any official position or derive from any particular authority or is rooted in my information base or emanates from any scholarly resume, but comes from my sincere and noble desire to change the world around me despite the risks of failure, criticism, or even retaliation;

that I can only accomplish much if I am a daring and visionary adventurer rather than a safe and comfortable "status-guo-er" or a faltering hesitant who wants certainty and guarantee;

that no matter how loudly the challenges in the classroom may shout, I won't let them silence the beauty and uniquely positive possibilities that are always there in each person;

that each day is a beautiful, priceless, and matchless gift filled with unique and wonderful possibilities to be experienced if I want to and know how to seek them out;

that I'm a dance card waiting to be filled, that I'm a proverbial work in progress, that the Ph.D. after my name isn't Latin for "having made it" nor is the Dr. before my name mean "I've got it;"

that there is a gap between actuality and potential, between who I believe I am and who I truly am and who I am capable of becoming;

that the important thing is to make each day purposeful and meaningful;

that no student gets up in the morning and says, "I'm going to school to try and screw things up;"

that no teacher gets up in the morning and says, "I'm going to school to try and screw the students;"

that the things I accomplish in the classroom are the ones I know I must accomplish and truly want to accomplish and will do whatever it takes to accomplish, whether they are easy or tough, simple or complicated, immediate or over the long run;

that when I say I must intently listen and see, I don't mean merely being more attentive or waiting for my turn to speak. I mean generously listening and seeing with my ears and eyes something that I didn't see before. I mean seeing and listening for the opportunity to change and transform;

that I must design a classroom that allows each person to see who he or she is and who he or see is capable of becoming and to demonstrate his or her latent talents and to grow and to transform;

that compassion and love belong in the classroom because compassion and love are human matters and I'm in the people business;

that each day is a composite of choices I make and that each day is a time of opportunity or missed opportunity;

that being miserable is a choice and when I make that choice, I will sort out all sorts of things to insure that my choice is vindicated and reinforced;

that being positive, joyful and uplifted is a better choice than being miserable and when I make that choice, I will sort out all sorts of things to insure that my choice is vindicated and reinforced;

that I must never be satisfied, but that doesn't mean I am in a continual state of dissatisfaction;

that I don't have to ignore or deny the difficulties of teaching in order to be excited. I only have to decide that I won't let them get to me. hold me back, and get me down;

that I must not define success and achievement in terms of salary or publications or position or tenure or title or resume, but see that my wealth is in my attitude and in my approach to living each moment and seeing the sacredness all around me;

that I must ask myself what I want to see more of and less of in my own attitudes and behaviors;

that the joy of taking a chance and succeeding is a much more powerful motivator and inspirer than is the fear of failing or making a mistake;

that it's easier to talk the proverbial talk than walk the proverbial walk, that the true test of my values and character is my willingness to take a stand or stand up when the cost may be more than I'm willing to pay;

that, as Carl Rogers acknowledges, I can't control anyone, I can't really teach anyone, motivate anyone, or even inspirer anyone except myself;

that attitudes are contagious;

that kindness can change lives, mine, and those of others;

that the sweet taste of the classroom is seasoned by selfless and unselfish service to each student;

that every single moment is a golden opportunity. But if I'm focused on my own narrow concerns, I'll miss the best opportunities;

that when my interest in teaching is beyond myself, is in the best interest of each student, teaching is truly magnificent;

that real and lasting achievement comes from being significant in someone's life;

that the beauty in each student may not be obvious at first if we let problems demand our attention;

that I am as happy at being in the classroom as I wish to be;

that the path to success, fulfillment, and happiness in the classroom is to be a good person;

that achievement, happiness, and fulfillment are children of purpose and vision;

that I must connect what I would like to do and what I would like to accomplish with why I would like to do and accomplish, for behind every desire is a reason and behind every reason is a purpose and behind every purpose is a vision;

that my classroom career is counted by the number of heart throbbing deeds, by the number of people I touch, not by the number of years;

that the value of having been is the extent to which I will be missed;

that whatever is said about me in epitaphs and eulogies will be built on what I did with my talents and resources and how I touched lives;

that Disraeli is right: life is too short to be small;

that my precious personhood, the things that are most admirable and lovable about me, are found in my character and my values, not in my image or my authority or renown or publications;

that I have to take good care of myself, my body and spirit, my mind and heart, if I want to take good care of others;

that having a strong sense of service is the best way to have a long, fulfilling, and significant teaching career;

that I have to adjust to changing times with changing methods and changing attitudes, but with unchanging values and purpose;

that I teach the way I do is not because of who and what comes my way, but because of how I respond to it all;

that if I respond with love to those who might otherwise annoy me, I won't be annoyed;

that if I look each day for the blessings in each person, I'll surely find them;

that if I look each for the short-comings in each person, I'll surely find them;

that I still get that buzz in the classroom because there's still more, there's so much more to come, the best is still ahead of me--and it's still awful exciting and a whole lot of fun.

         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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