Saturday, June 11, 2016

I Should Have Known

How may times have you said I should have known? With a universe as vast as our imaginings, there are endless opportunities for learning. There’s outer space to explore – inner space to discover. Is it possible to know everything?


Just yesterday I learned about quarks at a memoriam honoring the passing of a great man and mentor. A scientist spoke of his friendship with the deceased and threw in the word quark. Have any of you heard this word before? I never had. So, I googled the word and discovered it is a subatomic particle that has different flavors – the word physicists came up with to separate the different kinds of quarks. I still know extremely little about them with the exception the universe may end in 10 billion years because of them. AND, of course, wherever you have quarks, you have antiquarks.

Cartoon Quarks

The point isn't that I now know of the existence of quarks. It is that I learned something new. When I found out about quarks, I didn't tell myself I should have known. Why and how am I supposed to know about quarks? I've had no reason to seek out that knowledge. Now that I have it, I suppose I can always use it as an ice-breaker - How 'bout those quarks!

Stealing Student

More personally impactful knowledge is not so easy to google. The problem with learning is that it is a process. One thing builds on the next. It is pretty hard for us to be able to draw good conclusions if we don’t have all the facts, background knowledge or understanding.

One example happened to me while I was teaching a self-contained class of ESL students. One of the students was a notorious food thief. He would take apples, bananas and other food items from his classmate’s desks, stash them in his backpack which he would forget to close. The items sometimes spilled out. He wasn't a very good thief. It got so I would walk by his pack, retrieve the stolen items and return them without anyone being the wiser.

This student never stole anything other than food that I was aware of. In my learning process, I came to understand the motivation behind the stealing was hunger. The majority of my students lived in poverty. It was possible there were times this student's only meals were eaten at school. It took me a few months to pull all the information together accurately.

At first, I was appalled at the thefts. I thought that student was headed for certain jail time if this behavior wasn’t corrected. I mean, it’s a well known fact that a life of crime begins with the stealing of fruit, right?

After understanding his motivation better, I made a point of keeping food in the classroom and scheduling regular snack breaks. Having food available combined with other character enhancing strategies in and outside the classroom seemed to address the problem. 

Once I was able to connect all the dots, instead of celebrating, I told myself I should have known

Friday, June 10, 2016

My Answer

Self-help Thoughts

I stumbled upon a YouTube video of a business guru from the 1980’s. He shared his impressive personal rags to riches story. He was also building the necessary background knowledge in order to sell his business know-how in a Law-of-Attractionesque platform. His rise to fame and fortune pre-dated the principles in The Law of Attraction, but incorporated some of the principles. 

My first knee-jerk feeling to the video was that of being a failure for not having manifested the vast riches he said was my birthright. My second feeling was feeling silly for having the first feeling. I still learned from this man’s teachings in two ways: I learned by acknowledging what I agreed with. The second learning was what I wished to discard, change or add to based on his words.


When I reflected on my deeper values and beliefs, I developed this response to what I heard. I believe in the power of focused intention and positive thinking as a way to transform our own lives and inspire others. Making and having money is also a worthy goal. Money as the ultimate goal, however, frequently falls short because money alone does not fill the voids which exists within many of us.

Believing we are failures because our thoughts haven’t produced the wealth or success we want materially is counter-productive to our well-being. It promotes self-blame. Therefore, instead of empowering us to attain our potential, we get stuck blaming ourselves for not attaining what the guru is telling we could or even should have.

Dysfunctional capitalism is at work when the mentality of acquiring more and more and even more infiltrates and takes over our consciousness. This thinking has the potential of gobbling up and exploiting people, our beautiful planet and all her resources and the many other amazing beings living here solely for the purpose of having.

As for me, I have never been highly ambitious. I took promotions often with great trepidation as I was happy being in the classroom touching the lives of my students more directly. I was told I could touch more lives by working with the teachers who work with the students. The logic was undeniable, but what about the passion? What if that passion involves a smaller paycheck?  Shouldn't that take priority? I think that answer is up to each individual to make based on their values. I personally believe pursuing passion is never the wrong choice.

I did agree with the work ethic the business guru outlined. He encouraged listeners to put in a six-day work week and allow the seventh day for reflection on correction or improvement of the past week. The emphasis was on dedication. I don’t think it’s ever necessary to work yourself to the point of burn-out and exhaustion. That is neither productive nor very kind to yourself. Still, it is dedication that spurs us from thought to action. 

Spiritual Currents

Today’s ideas state that if you are in alignment, the universe resonates to that vibration, and you attract more of what you desire to you. The converse is also said to be true. For example, if your mind is a cluttered mess of unproductive, low-vibrational thinking, you will draw that to you as well.

Although I strongly agree with the benefits of focused intention and directing our thoughts to a higher level, what I wish to add is a different emphasis. This current thinking is primarily on getting. But what about giving? And what about the blame aspect if changing our thoughts isn’t bringing us what we thought we wanted? I believe a truly expanded consciousness is about giving in equal measure to getting if not more when possible. Our earth gives us so much. We keep taking, yet the empty space inside us remains unfilled. Then my question is - How can we fill those spaces without exploiting everything around us?

My answer is with compassion. (more to come)