April 15th, 2008

Book Cover

Morning -

I have always felt that Driver's Education and Driver's Training were the two relevant pieces of high school education.  I've never forgotten the experience, and probably use the lessons each time I drive.   In my day, we began driver's training with a simulator.  It seemed quite advanced, though would seem quite primitive today.   There was a film we watched, and then we were recorded as to how quickly we braked when a ball rolled into the road, things like that.

This is being eliminated in schools, has been, but it sounds very official now, and if teenagers wait until they are eighteen to drive, it is not required at all.  What false economy.   I think of the accidents that will occur because young people are not trained to drive, are not aware it is a skill, a privilege, and not a right.

I find it very sad.  

Today is tax day, another reason to pull down, and yet, I did my five minutes of noticing my breathing this morning, and it was like a sweet spot in the center of my chest that spreads out through my arms and heart.  Quite fun.   Try it.   Take five minutes to notice your breath, preferably in the morning as you wake, before it is interfered with, with obligations and a to-do list.

To counter all the above, I offer this:

"Anyone who stays long enough in a landscape .... will eventually absorb some of what is wild about the place and come to realize that they are as much a part of it as the flora and fauna around them, and that their own innate wildness is affecting the place as much as the place affects them."

    Mark Dowie, The Fiction of Wilderness

owl - great white -

Education -

I take the following from a column by David Brooks, because I think it is so important to look at what has happened to education in this country.  It is scary to consider that the generation I am is better educated than those who follow.   One would have hoped for more, and yet, I remember going to our local high school to check it out for my oldest son.  The cute, sweet, charming young teacher said the students would not be reading the classics in their entirety because they were too hard.  We couldn't do that to the sensitive little darlings.  I said, "We did it.  I did it, and I am not harmed."  She looked at me like I was nuts.  That was when we put Jeff in a private high school.  I knew he was more than capable of reading a whole book.   Dumbing things down to make it supposedly easier for our children is helping no one now.   The quality of life sinks for us all.

"For the first time in the nation’s history, workers retiring from the labor force are better educated than the ones coming in."

    - David Brooks

turkey vultures

Turkey vultures -

Jules Evens writes about turkey vultures in Lightness of being.

"Many cultures revere vultures.  They spend so much time aloft, ranging over the landscape, looking down on us.  All things pass through the clear vision of this bird.  They are the silent observers, the knowledgeable ones.  The Egyptians believed that vultures were impregnated by the wind and considered them symbolic of purification, compassion and eternity.  Some Native American tribes considered them spirits of salvation - consuming the body and carrying it to the heavens.  And for the people of the Pueblo culture, the Turkey Vulture presides, like a priest, over the dangerous passage from the the spirit world back to daily life. 

In a beautiful gesture that speaks to an affinity for the earth and sky, Tibetan Buddhists take their deceased relatives to a mountain ridge and feed the flesh and bones to the Himalayan vulture, Lammergeier.  Sky burial.

    Vultures do walk with ceremonial dignity while they
    preside over the disposition of carrion.

Hamilton Tyler, Pueblo Birds and Myths

Perhaps our curious kinship with vultures traces back to the early Pleistocene, to the savannah and scrublands, to the thickets where our ancestors crouched, watching the sky and the plains.  Before they developed sharp-edged tools for cutting flesh, our forebears were not only hunter-gatherers, they were also scavengers who relied on vultures to find carrion and to open body cavities to provide access to the meat inside.  Some ember of that early commensal relationship seems to flicker in our chromosomal memory and inform our wonder as we watch them glide over the landscape."

Useful and beautiful information, I say.