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Daily Archives: February 7, 2013

Tao Te Ching #33

I was busy today and am off to a dinner meeting momentarily. I took a deep breath and remembered to breathe. I attended Teacher’s Convention which is unique to Alberta, for the most part. The Alberta Teacher’s Association, our professional organization/union, organizes several each year depending on geographic locations. There is a large exhibit hall and many presentations. I find it challenging as it is busy, crowded, and noisy, but there was a great presentation and another good one. The first presenter spoke on a topic similar to what I am massaging for a dissertation topic and, when I approached her, she graciously agreed to share more of her thoughts and I will contact her. She was genuinely interested and I am pretty jacked.

I also found a nice little restaurant. It wasn’t lost, but I had never been there before and it was a nice place. I finished the book I am reading while I ate lunch. I could have focused on the challenges–noise, crowds, and busyness–instead I pulled three great things out of the day and feel energized. I found this beautiful little poem by Lao Tzu and it resonated. When we turn in and find the extraordinary of the ordinary that is true power.

Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightment.
Mastering others requires force;
Mastering the self needs strength.

He who knows he has enough is rich.
Perseverance is a sign of will power.
He who stays where he is endures.
To die but not to perish is to be eternally present.


This might be my favourite Mary Oliver poem. I ran across it early in my doctoral journey and the lines: “Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these.” I stopped and took stock of the person I was and continue to reflect on the question Parker Palmer asks, “Who is the self that teaches?” Or, the paraphrase: “Who is the person who lives this life?” I pause, breathe, and attempt to be mindful of all “the untrimmable light of the world, the ocean’s shine, and the prayers that are made out of grass.” As Thich Nhat Hanh advises, turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Dr Bill Wooten

“Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?”

~ Mary Oliver


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