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The Red Wheel Barrow

When I make life complicated, it becomes more complicated and entangled. I felt rushed this afternoon. I have class, I needed to finish two papers, and wanted to do some reading. I took a deep breath and it got simpler. I uncomplicated my day by letting go a bit and seeing what was important right in front of me.

When I step back a bit and let life find its path, it becomes much simpler. This does not deny life’s complexity, but complexity and complicated are different. The first looks for patterns and the other ties knots around and among things. Complexity is in many ways reflected in the mirror of a simple life and what it reveals. Sometimes it is the obvious things that are right there in front of me only waiting to be acknowledged like a red wheel barrow.

In a few words, William Carlos Williams brings to life the simplicity in life which helps me wend my way through the complex relationships and patterns.

so much depends

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens.

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

15 responses »

  1. I wish I could become better adept at channeling the Williams’ red wheel barrow when my educational day grows too hectic, which is every day these days…

    Reply
    • It takes work Michael. I just take a deep breath or take three ordinary breaths and it seems to anchor. The three breaths is a variation on a practice at Plum Village where Thich Nhat Hanh lives. 3 or 4 times a day a bell rings and people pause wherever they are and take three breaths. Without a bell, choose a common event i.e. answering the phone. It works to get started.

      Reply
  2. Take it easy Ivon. :)

    Reply
  3. So true, Ivon… Oh, for a red wheel barrow, rain, and chickens…

    I’m actually having one of those days today – slow and easy… feels good… Hope I can remember how good – like a red wheel barrow.

    Reply
  4. I appreciate this post Ivon – I think many of us tend to complicate our path. Somehow the imagery is both comforting and helpful..

    Reply
  5. I remember sharing this poem with my students many times over the years and making up writing tasks based on it.

    Reply
    • I think it would be one of those poems that students would see the ease with which we can find something to write about. So often, they would tell me they did not know what to write about and I regret not using this poem as a model.

      Reply
  6. Simplicity is a good strategy for life.

    Reply

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