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When the Shoe Fits

The Trappist Monk Thomas Merton is better known for his spiritual prose, but he was an artist and poet, as well. Eastern philosophies, including Buddhism and Taoism, inspired his writing, including his poetry, and his theology.

When we are at ease with our actions and speech, we work with remarkable dexterity. We understand technology as tools, however the etymology includes techne which is art and craft and logos has to do with speaking, discourse, and the rules that guide that speaking. Craftspeople and artists take time, gather their thoughts (become full of thought), and speak with and through their tools in creating artifacts which in turn call us to gather our thoughts in their use.

Merton’s poem speaks of the ease and knowing one’s craft so well that conversations with and through tools feel right as the craftsperson experiences tools and creating intimately. The human and their tools form a mindful and caring relationship. John Dewey proposed that mind was a verb. We mind, care for, appreciate, and attend to our tools and they respond to this mindfulness.

From the Chinese of Chuang Tzu

Ch’ui the draftsman
Could draw more perfect circles freehand
Than with a compass.

His fingers brought forth
Spontaneous forms from nowhere. His mind
Was meanwhile free and without concern
With what he was doing.

No application was needed
His mind was perfectly simple
And knew no obstacle.

So, when the shoe fits
The foot is forgotten,
When the belt fits
The belly is forgotten,
When the heart is right
“For” and “against” are forgotten.

No drives, no compulsions,
No needs, no attractions:
Then your affairs
Are under control.
You are a free man.

Easy is right. Begin right
And you are easy.
Continue easy and you are right. The right way to go easy
Is to forget the right way
And forget that the going is easy.

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.

9 responses »

  1. Great post, Ivan. I’ve been thinking along these lines myself lately that this whole idea that you can “make it happen” needs a few qualifications. I’ve been thinking more along the lines of finding your own path and where you’re meant to be rather than going through all the pain of pushing the proverbial up hill.

    Reply
  2. Is this something like “Go with the flow”?

    Reply
  3. “when the shoe fits
    The foot is forgotten”

    That’s so true. I love the simple observations some people make thst others never see.

    Reply

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