You’re going to hate hear this. My only defense is that this is what I wish somebody had said to me around 1995 or so.
What do you do to demonstrate who you are? Go do it.
“I fear that being human is itself fast becoming a condition. It’s as if we are trying to contain grief, and the absolute pain of a loss like mine. We have become increasingly disassociated and estranged from the patterns of life and death, uncomfortable with the messiness of our own humanity, aging and, ultimately, mortality.”
The overmedicated culture of our society.
There are moments that I get a little nervous about how much my life is integrated across different parts. From the classroom to judo to my work to my personal life— it’s all connected.
The other night at judo we were talking about flow. When we spar each other, our movements should flow. What we mean by that is the opposite of rigidity. Dr. Kano, the founder of judo, believed in putting in minimal effort for maximum effectiveness. When someone pushes you backward, it is a waste of energy to fight forward— flow backward with your partner.
Flowing makes sense. By going in the direction your partner goes, you can utilize their own momentum against them. As Sensei says it, you help them lose. If they’re going forward, throw them forward; if they’re going left, take them left. By flowing, we can maximize what we get out of our energy.
In the classroom, the same. Instead of being rigid with your lesson plans or your intended direction for the day, flow with where the students are taking you. Of course, the objective is not to throw them, but to go where they go. If they want to go on a related tangent, don’t waste your energy wrestling them back “on track.” Use their current energy to take the tangent and use your own skill to connect it back to your original outcome.
So often I find teachers want to stick to their schedule and their agenda, when there are such rich places we can go if they would just come along with us.
It takes a lot of skill to be comfortable with this— giving that power to others means less control for yourself, which is terrifying to a lot of people. I hope to be comfortable with this someday as an educator.
Ultimately, I want to be like water. Water flows. It persists in open expanses or the tiniest of crevices. It finds maximum effectiveness with minimum effort. It spans the whole range of being calm and serene to tumultuous and angry. Water can shape things. it is always changing— it will never be the same twice. It is beautiful. It is terrifying.
Water nourishes life.
I was talking to a student today about the joy we share for reading. I love books. I have whole shelves worth of books at my apartment, my fiance loves books, we have Kindles, and we have long wish lists for books we want to read next.
Why do I love books? They bring me light.
As I talked with this student, I realized that I envision my mind like a vast, dark room. I have a lamp. With every book I read, with every thing I learn, a lamp goes on. One by one, my room is being lit up with these lamps. They’re all different— some are tall and simple, some are huge and bold, some are standard desk lamps— but they all emit their glow in my room.
The more I read, the closer I am to discovering the depths and limits of this room. My room. My mind.
Here’s to books.