Thursday, October 07, 2021

stumbling along

Today I'm sitting on the front porch with golden doodle daughter Rosie at my feet. She's chewing a long branch into short pieces and I'm attempting to compose my thoughts. 

A friend, Elliot asked me if I'd studied Viktor Frankl and his book, "Man's Search for Meaning." Sometimes you get much of what you need from the name of the book, taken as an invitation to explore your own mind and your own experiences. As I explain in the introduction to my new book, some will get everything they need from the title alone as it invites them to explore the workings of their own hands and minds in the shaping of the world around us.

Yesterday as Rosie and I sat on the porch, a doe walked out of the woods to present herself not 30 feet away. Of course Rosie jumped up and chased the deer into the woods. When she came back her face was covered in burrs to the point that she could barely open her eyes. That forced me to cancel my classes for the day as Rosie was in dire distress. There were tight clusters of burrs distributed over her whole body. Jean and I spent hours grooming her and took her to another groomer for a bath and clip. The experience was stressful for us and for her. So chewing a good stick on the front porch is a good therapy. I cut the offending weeds in the woods and vow to keep them short forever more.

My dad had a favorite poem that I recited at his funeral service and that I found later in a collection of poems for teachers of manual and industrial arts. It goes: 

Isn’t it strange that princes and kings
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
All share this common destiny:
Each is given a set of rules,
A lump of stone
And bag of tools,
That each may carve as life as flown,
A stumbling block or stepping stone.

Man’s search for meaning is what drives everything, isn’t it? Money, power, and the attention of others. Having the right car or the right home or the right look of the dog. Then there's corresponding impulse to fit in, to be part of the in crowd, not sticking up to the point where someone else feels the urge to hammer you down. Within that matrix is the urge to build a legacy upon which others can build… a greater sense of purpose that gives life meaning beyond the mundane.

There are two aspects of self that can easily be mistaken for each other: A sense of purpose that connects us with the carving of stepping stones to lift others up, and a sense of self-importance that ultimately leaves us humbled and forgotten. What will your path be? You may choose, stumbling along as we all do.

Make, fix and create...

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