September 6th, 2009

point reyes is a poem

Good Morning!

I was enjoying my morning coffee this morning when I looked out and saw what I thought were two birds hovering on the ridge.  Then, I realized they were two spots of dirt on the window, and then, the light changed and I didn't see them at all.   I wonder how often we mis-interpret and when it might be an entertaining thing to do, like looking on the bright side and hearing freeway noise as the sound of the sea, and when it is running away.  I could interpret the spots as that it is time to clean the window or I can wait for the light to change, or I can enjoy imagining myself as a hawk thermaling on the air on the hill. 

I am trying to be a little less influenced by the outside news which is such a downer right now and live a little more inwardly, to make more contact with what brews within.  My dreams continue to fascinate and I am sleeping deeply. 

I am enthralled with the book, In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore.  I smile when I read this part.  I never thought of protests against the sundial.  How funny we are, we human beings. 


Today's pro-Slow organizations belong to a tradition of resistance that started long before the industrial era. Even in the ancient world, our ancestors chafed against the tyranny of timekeeping. In 200 B.C., the Roman playwright Plautus penned the following lament:

The Gods confound the man who first found out
How to distinguish the hours - confound him, too
Who in this place set up a sundial
To cut and hack my days so wretchedly
Into small pieces!

.... I can't (even sit down to eat) unless the sun gives leave.  The town's so full of these confounded dials ...

Now, that you're smiling, I'll continue with this:

In 1304, Daffyd ap Gwvilyn, a Welsh bard, fumed: "Confusion to the black-faced clock by the side of the bank that woke me!  May its head, its tongue, its pair of ropes, and its wheels moulder; likewise its weights and dullard balls, its orifices, its hammer, its ducks quacking as if anticipating day and its ever restless works."

Enjoy this weekend, three days away from clamor, bars and timepieces dividing the movement of the earth, and separating our relationship with the sun.


Ralph Nader -

Ralph Nader is interviewed in the October Car and Driver. 

At the end of the interview, he is asked, "What could you have done differently?"

Nader replies, "Well, I'd like to have had a different set of presidents."

C/D replies, "After 50 years, though, you persist."

Nader:  "Still at it.  We started the Center for Auto Safety, and we stayed at it, but when the White House got the Republicans and John Dingell, it became pretty hard. Fuel efficiency, that was the real disaster. Anybody could have seen this coming, and the UAW and GM marched up on Capitol Hill and crushed, year after year, any attempt at fuel-efficiency legislation. And that's why GM went bankrupt. They did it to themselves. I just wrote an article that uses that priceless quote by Ross Perot, before GM bought him out. He was talking to some senior GM executives in 1986, and he said here's a company that doesn't like its dealers, doesn't like its workers, doesn't like its customers - you people don't even like each other!"

Alexander Calder's Kitchen!

Sailing upwind -

When our children were born, my ego was launched and I felt I was the only one who could raise them in the way I saw fit, that no one could know as well as I what they needed and what would allow them to build their own boat to navigate the seas.  (I am in nautical mode today.)

When we lived in San Clemente, 1976-1978, we felt concerns about the way the country was going and we decided to buy a boat and sail around the world.  Jeff was three and Chris a new-born and so schools would be an issue.  I investigated the Calvert school and pleased, sent for the first year of educational materials, planning to home school with the aid of their well-accredited materials.  I was impressed with what I received and did use that first year of instruction with both my children, though they were also enrolled in school.

What I knew then and know now is that though I was a part of their learning to read, and learn basic scientific principles and math, the peer group was important too.  They needed involvement with friends of differing opinions to learn how to resolve their own issues.  They took a hit on the playground to learn about action and response.  They learned first-hand that bullies are the one afraid. 

It appears to me that many children home-schooled today are done so in an attempt to isolate and brainwash.  That is unfortunate since the flow of information that school provides is important to both parent and child.  I learned an incredible amount from what my children brought home from school.  I may not have liked all their teachers but talking about them with my children allowed us all to grow.  One son had a sixth grade science teacher who insisted evolution was theory and that creationism, and I realize there are many forms of this, but hers was an extreme fundamental version,  was fact.  We navigated through that.  

This morning in the shower I found myself thinking of how one sails a boat. That brought all this navigational imagery to light, or wind, perhaps.  When you sail upwind, you tack; you go left, then, right, back and forth again.   I think that the politics in this country have, until recently, followed that pattern.  Compromise has kept us on course, but it seems there is a fringe, and I do hope they are a fringe who seem determined to sink the whole ship.  I am unclear on why this is so unless they are sure they are going to be the ones lifted up to a brighter place.  How then is that different from thinking you are going to slam a plane into a building and hang out with virgins the rest of your life?

I take these words from a sailing website,

The most important part of making the boat go fast upwind comes back to the person holding the tiller. It's all very well coming in after a race and blaming your sail/mast/rudder, where nine times put of ten it's your fault! The minute you realise that you are at fault, you will begin to improve.

"Realise you are at fault, you will begin to improve."

I think this sailing lesson can be taken into our lives so that we look at ourselves more wholly.  I look at myself.

Where might I have moderated my behavior, behaved a little more sensitively, listened a little more closely, reflected back what someone was saying with a little more care?  

What I see is that the way we sail a boat is a model for how we navigate our lives.  In the past when there was disagreement people often sailed to a new land but the land is taken now and we haven't yet chosen or figured out how to ship communities out into space.   

I'm not sure how this current situation on the subject of education can resolved, but the words of my grandmother come to me.  Everything can be taken from you or lost except education.  Education you will always have.  I realize that Alzheimer's or a stroke may threaten that, but certainly for the majority of our lives, what we learn is there for us to use.  I believe that our president is well-intentioned in what he is striving to do and he is pulled in a multitude of directions.  I may disagree with him on Iraq and Afghanistan, but I am baffled that anyone could disagree with a desire to educate our children, unless people are so insecure in their own beliefs that the thought of exposing their child to an alternate way of thinking and concluding, threatens their own rigidity of thought. 

Sometimes I don't speak for what I see as obvious but I think this point on Obama and education is one on which we who see it as obvious must unite.   We must have a well-educated populace for this nation to stand.   The bullies may fear that but when you stand up to a bully they fall back like the paper tiger they are.  Enough is enough!   Children deserve to be exposed to different opinions so they can decide.  They must know how to think, to examine pros and cons and make an informed decision.  But oh if they could do that, oh, well, then, yes, I see why this is such a fight.