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Trying to Learn by Lydia Davis

Today, I read part of Experiments in Ethics by Kwame Appiah, a professor at Princeton. It is an interesting book and I doubt I can do it justice in a blog posting, but, as the title suggests, it is about ethics and their complex nature due to human complexity.

He provided a very short story by Lydia Davis. I might compare it to Heraclitus’ quote: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” No person steps twice in the same river, because the river is constantly changing. I also think the complexity nature of our human being is such that we change as we move into each ensuing moment. I cannot be the same person in the next moment. Living an ethical life is challenging as I am not the same person at each moment. In French, the word for experiment is experience. I think a life fully lived is one that is an experiment. I constantly learn from this fully lived life if I am mindful and use my beginner’s mind.

“I am trying to learn that this playful man who teases me is the same as that serious man talking money so seriously he does not eve see me anymore and that patient man offering me advice in times of trouble and that angry man as he leaves the home. I have often wanted the playful man to be more serious, and the serious man to be less serious, and the patient man to be more playful. As for the angry man, he is a stranger to me and I do not feel it is wrong to hate him. Now I am learning that if I say bitter words to the angry man as he leaves the house, I am at the same time wounding the others, the others I do not want to wound, the playful man teasing, the serious man talking money, and the patient man offering advice. Yet I look at the patient man, for instance, whom I would want above all to protect from such bitter words as mine, and though I tell myself he is the same man as the others, I believe I said those words, not to him, but to another, my enemy, who deserved all my anger.”

What other ways can we learn to live a life fully, ethically, and in an experiential manner?


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

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