Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I got what I wanted for Christmas

I got what I wanted for Christmas: time spent with family.

New Year

2009 has been a pretty good year. I am fortunate to have a good job, which allows me to have food, shelter, transportation, and clothing, and which offers good benefits, including health insurance and ample time off. In my time off, I was able to have a number of visits to and/or from family. Over the course of the year, I saw all my siblings and parents, one of my grandmothers, and a sprinkling of aunts, uncles and cousins. I am fortunate to have many wonderful family and friends, and fortunate that my circle is expanding, with the addition of Bridget and Asher to my family, as well as new friends.

For 2010 and beyond, my wish is for the well-being of my loved ones. And it wouldn't be very good if my loved ones were fine, but everyone else was miserable, so I wish for the well-being of everyone's loved ones. And if there exists anyone who is not anyone's loved one, then my wish for that person is that they become someone's loved one. Thus, my wish for the well-being of everyone's loved ones is a wish for the well-being of everyone.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My vision

A composer hears music in his head and writes it, so that it may be heard by the world. A painter sees a picture in her head and paints it so that it may be seen by the world. That's what doing something with one's life is -- bringing one's vision into reality. The vision that I have is broad. It is not something easily described or made real.

My vision has to do with people living peacefully according to certain values. The two main threads of my vision could be seen as environmentalism and human relations (especially in childrearing), but these are not two separate things to me. The vision is of a whole community, and there are many attributes which make the community what it is.

The vision that I have is of a world where people treat each other with kindness and respect. The earth's resources are used wisely. Energy comes from renewable sources, such as solar. Food is raised organically. People grow their own gardens and make things with their hands. People help their neighbors. Children are loved, and, like everyone, they are treated with kindness and respect. Children play outdoors and use their imaginations. Children are not inundated with materials things. They don't have plastic toys. They don't watch TV or play video games.

There is no single thing to be done to make my vision a reality. It will take many strands to weave this tapestry. I don't expect to bring this vision into reality for the entire world. Some people choose a different path. But I want to be a part of weaving into reality a community where this vision does exist, so that those who choose this path have a place to go. I don't know exactly how to bring this about, but in my life, I recognize the things that do and don't point the way to this vision. Some of the things which I've found as pointing the way to my vision include:
  • Food: food co-ops, organic gardening, farmer's markets, community gardens, family farms, Fair Winds Farm
  • Do-it-yourself: In addition to gardening, any groups that support any kind of do-it yourself activities, including cooking, carpentry, pottery, sewing, weaving, music, storytelling, dance, etc.
  • Education: Montessori, Waldorf, Marlboro College, College of the Atlantic, Haverford College, Farm and Wilderness Camps, Hulbert Outdoor Center
  • Communities: eco-villages, Monteverde
  • Environment: Groups which support sustainable living, cleaning up pollution, and renewable energy.
  • Supporting locally owned businesses.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another story from Waldorf book

Another story from the Waldorf book: There was a solar eclipse, so Petrash took his students to view it using paper with pinholes. He found this rather un-inspiring. Then, as he and the students were walking back to the school building, they passed some other students who were outside. He writes:
Several...students were...holding baseball caps so that the sun light was shining through the grommet holes and making a ring of crescent suns on the blacktop. Another student was stretching her mesh vest and dozens of crescent suns were shining beautifully on her lap. I marveled at the ingenuity of the children; their creativity made me feel so old and unimaginative. As I circled the playground, I passed under a tree. On the ground under the tree were hundreds of little partially eclipsed suns. It seemed that each place where the light was able to filter between the cracks in the leafy canopy, an eclipsed sun became visible on the ground. That thought that came to me was that in some amazing way, each individual ray of light conveyed an image of the sun. In the same way, each individual child bore the image of the divine.
As Petrash sees the divine an all children, Quakers see the divine in all people, and Pantheists see the divine in all the universe.

Story from Waldorf book

Today I finished reading Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out by Jack Petrash. The book talks about how while traditional education focuses on mental growth, Waldorf education seeks a balance between physical (playing outdoors, learning household skills, sports), emotional (art, music, theater, stories, poetry) and mental. Petrash tells the story of one boy who always struggled with academics, but had a deep appreciation for art and excelled in kindness, conscientiousness, sincerity, and open-mindedness. At 8th grade graduation, this student read the following, which is attributed to an unknown Confederate soldier:

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do great things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything that I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.

I think if I just read this, I might not like it, because I would think of the illnesses and injuries that have affected me and people I know. I object to telling people disabled by illness that they should be grateful for their conditions, because of the lessons they can learn from it. However, in this context, I appreciated it, because it seemed to me that it was about this particular boy humbly accepting his academic limits, and shining as a good person in his own way, rather than being resentful about his limitations.