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A Simpler Life

Kathy and I are doing some house cleaning and it is interesting what we find.

Kathy looked through some papers we had stored and found poetry I wrote in 1969, in Grade 10. There are things that are consistent in life and one of them is seeking moments of solitude and silence, which I wrote about in this poem. I took liberties and edited the poem, orginally called The Simple Life.

It is good to be alone at times,

Sheltered by comforting trees,

The wind singing a song,

Here, I experience freedom and peace,

For the moment, worries set aside.

Minnows dart at the water’s edge,

Dancing between light and shadows,

Seemingly, without a care,

There, they experience home’s safety;

Its primal call.

Here, this is me,

I experience a simpler life;

An unseen hand beckons me,

I wave to this simpler life,

Enjoying it each time I return.

I took this picture in Waterton Lake National Park several years ago. I came around a corner and there was a doe and two fawn. I could have touched the one fawn it was so close, but it was separated from its mother. I stood as still as possible, moving slowly to get the camera ready. The mother whistled to the one fawn and waited until the young one found its way over to her, back to the safety of where it belonged.

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The Meeting

A couple of weeks ago I was out for one of my daily walks. We live in neighbourhood that is well inside the city, so what happened was a surprise. A deer was on one of the lawns. It saw me, but by the time I had my cell phone and camera out is was two blocks away. Just the same, it was an unexpected moment to bethoroughly enjoyed.

The deer’s unexpected appearance reminded me of what Thich Nhat Hanh says about the ordinary being part of the extraordinary. We just have to remain open.

When I am quiet,

When I just am,

Openings appear;

Something shows itself.

In those ordinary moments,

Miracles appear,

Making the moment (extra)ordinary,

The enjoyment exceeds itself.

We took this picture in Waterton Lakes National Park. I walked around a corner and one of the young ones was within arm’s length, but separated from the doe. I stayed still, until mother and child reunited.

Driftwood

I am back. The retreat was enjoyable and tiring. Although it was called a retreat, it was different in the sense that it involved research, writing, and lots of conversation. I find retreats invigorating. They are not sit, listen, and try taking notes as a speaker blasts through their presentation.

Retreats have a conversational part. Parker Palmer counsels people at his retreats not to take notes. Instead, we spend time writing and conversing how we feel about various prompts. That was a purpose of this retreat. It is the Currere Exchange.

Currere is the etymological root of curriculum, meaning to run the course of one’s life. It is a subjective way of interpreting a planned curriculum in a school. Whether teachers understand it or not, they are doing this continuously. As one of my co-researchers told me we make decisions about what to teach and leave things out we really like.

In a sense, currere is polishing a planned curriculum. It is a multi-faceted and complicated conversation between a person (re)membering their lived-experiences, aspire to a particular way of teaching in the future, and synthesize those two moments into the present. Each moment acts as a curriculum to inform the other, complicating one’s teaching in a dialogic way. Others enter the classroom and add to the complicated nature of the conversation, each adding their curriculum to the dialogue. It is like a piece of driftwood, being polished by the forces it comes in contact with.

My story being polished,

I (re)member and imagine;

Washed up on a new shore,

Who I am reflected anew.

I am a character in my story,

I pause a moment,

Noting lustre and matte,

Interpreting new meanings.

Soaking in the contours of living,

Experiencing new awakenings,

Running the course of my life,

Each new moment polishing me afresh.

Kathy took this picture in Waterton Lakes National Park.

 

Talk About Walking

When we were in Waterton Lakes National Park two summers ago, we were able to go down the big lake into Montana’s Glacier National Park and hike. As we got off the boat, we asked one of the guides where a good place to go would be. He asked where we wanted to go and I answered, “Just for a walk and see where it takes us.”

It would be difficult to get off the ‘beaten path as it is pretty rugged country. Despite this, I think some days it is nice just to wander and wonder where the day takes us. Philip Booth does a wonderful job reminding us there is so much outside these walls we think of as our life.

Where am I going? I’m going
out, out for a walk. I don’t
know where except outside.
Outside argument, out beyond
wallpapered walls, outside
wherever it is where nobody
ever imagines. Beyond where
computers circumvent emotion,
where somebody shorted specs
for rivets for airframes on
today’s flights. I’m taking off
on my own two feet. I’m going
to clear my head, to watch
mares’-tails instead of TV,
to listen to trees and silence,
to see if I can still breathe.
I’m going to be alone with
myself, to feel how it feels
to embrace what my feet
tell my head, what wind says
in my good ear. I mean to let
myself be embraced, to let go
feeling so centripetally old.
Do I know where I’m going?
I don’t. How long or far
I have no idea. No map. I
said I was going to take
a walk. When I’ll be back
I’m not going to say.

Glacier Wildlife

Kathy and I went through Glacier National Park in Montana on our way home. Kathy traveled the route on her way to Spokane. Americans seem to build mountain national parks around the geography which means we saw little wildlife, but we did see some we don’t in Canadian mountain parks. This was clear on the Going to the Sun Road where we saw mountain goats. When we travel through Canadian mountain parks, we see mountain sheep which come down into the valleys during the summer. Goats stay high up where it is cooler. Unless a person hikes the back country, Waterton Lakes National Park, which borders on Glacier, does not have the goats for people to see easily.

This one was on the patch of glacier on the side of the road where it was able to stay cool.

Goat 1

This one posed. You can see they are somewhat comfortable with humans being around, but I still think of them as wildlife. It almost looked a statue.

Goat 3

As we hiked, I came around a corner and this spring’s fawn was separated from its mother and twin. I don’t know who was more surprised: him/her or me. Initially, we were 4 or 5 feet apart. Kathy had her camera and got great pictures. The background is part of an amphitheater and the deer were grazing around it.

Deer 1

The doe and another fawn were across the amphitheater, but I had inadvertently blocked the path for the first fawn to rejoin them. They made a kind of whistling sound to each other and the doe never appeared overly concerned. She actually grazed on the trees and waited patiently.

Deer 2

The separated fawn took off along a path that was across the clearing.

Deer 3

The fawn re-appeared across the amphitheater and they went off. It seemed like it was all in day’s work for them.

Deer 5

Driftwood’s Wisdom

Kathy took this picture while we walked along Waterton Lake’s beach. She thought it would inspire me. I wondered what might emerge. Last night, I scribbled ideas into my journal about wisdom and its sources. I enjoy and enjoyed listening to stories told by my parents, Kathy’s parents, our grandparents about life in past generations, and many others I come in contact with each day.

Flotsam on the shore

Washed up and unusable

Life’s wisdom wasted.

Polished piece of wood

Fine tuned by life’s travails

Reveals the wisdom.

Life within a Panorama

 

 

Kathy took these panoramic pictures the first day we drove to Waterton. I often wonder about making sense of life without a fuller view. It is the stepping back that might allow the ‘hole in the whole’ to fade and show a panoramic view of life. Even at that, the life’s complexity  creates mystery of and allows the ‘holes to make sense in the whole.’

Life

Still shot

One image at a time

Parsed and fits my definition.

Life

A broad view

Weaves a web without design

Fuller, richer, yet indefinable.

Reflection

Quilts life whole

Bound together moment by moment

Paradox of ragged and seamless.

Shared

Without losing self

Bound together by our commonness

Adhere disparate parts into one.

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