Suppose your life a folded telescope
Durationless, collapsed in just a flash
As from your mother’s womb you, bawling, drop
Into a nursing home. Suppose you crash
Your car, your marriage—toddler laying waste
A field of daisies, schoolkid, zit-faced teen
With lover zipping up your pants in haste
Hearing your parents’ tread downstairs—all one.
Einstein was right. That would be too intense.X. J. Kennedy
You need a chance to preen, to give a dull
Recital before an indifferent audience
Equally slow in jeering you and clapping.
Time takes its time unraveling. But, still,
You’ll wonder when your life ends: Huh? What happened?
In the past seven days, Whitefish has been covered with two feet of snow. As I’m sipping my coffee and starting the day the temperature stands at -6. I see another long boring treadmill run in my future. On days like this, let your mind turn to planning, and dreaming of the future. Allow your thoughts, the same consciousness that is the engine of thoughts filled negativity and darkness, to breath the promise of something different, something better.
Summer is coming, with every day the sun hesitates before setting. Soon our concerns will not be about how warm to dress but if the smoke from wildfires has made it unsafe to be outside. All things pass. Dream for summer adventures, stir dreams for future insight, dream for better days. Unfold those maps, let your fingers trace the countries of future memories.
Advance permits for backcountry backpacking in Glacier National Park can be submitted starting March 15.
Countless times I’ve read, heard and been told that what David Foster Wallace said at the Kenyon College Graduation in 2005 is as close to perfection that words written and then spoken can achieve. For years I resisted reading them, when a fellow teacher showed the youtube audio of the speech I would hurry past, trying not to hear. And then one day, on a Friday, a trying Friday of a long week, you listen. And you realize that it was true, it is genius, beauty and undeniably true and not trite praise for a genius complexity of a man, gone, far too early, by suicide.
Maybe you too resisted, fearing it would disappoint. This time you should listen.
A few springs ago, I was driving my family south from the Canadian Border to the Wurtz Forest Service Cabin on North Fork Road. As I slowed the rig down before the bridge at Whale Creek, a Grizzly Bear jumped out of the creek and onto the road. I slammed on the breaks and the bear eyed us wearily before walking across the bridge and then trotting down the burrow pit into the scrub pine.
I fumbled to get my DSLR camera set up and drove forward to get some pictures. I was excited and didn’t realize that the autofocus was getting the small trees in the foreground and not the bear. I was, of course, disappointed by such a missed opportunity and when I did come across those pictures always felt the pang of regret for not being a better photographer.
Winter is always a bit of a dark time for me. This winter no different. I have to make a conscious effort to focus on the things that keep my head above water. Yet, it’s a battle to do the boring things that keep me healthy and not wallow in depression, shame, and guilt.
A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at battle.
One is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery, and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred, and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, “The one you feed.”
That bear in the picture.
He’s always out there for me. Waiting to wreck my perception, attitude, creativity, judgment, destiny, emotion, decisions and determination. That picture, I’m glad the bear is a blur in the background. He’s out there, the good and bad bears, just like the good and bad wolves.
Were you to live three thousand years, or even countless multitudes of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can one be deprived of what’s not theirs?Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 2.14
- Making Sense with Sam Harris–Sam Harris, neuroscientist, atheism apologist, philosopher, meditation promoter and thought provoker has done more to change my life than almost anyone else in the world right now. The guest in this show is always challenging and interesting, Harriss’ book on Lying has been a huge influence on me as well. A word of caution, Harris has an extremely slow voice. I have to speed up the playback to stay sane. The app Overcast is what I listen to podcasts on and playback speed one of the many easy to use adjustments this app allows.
2. Brian Lamb, the founder of CSPAN is a hero of mine for reasons I’m not going to bore you with. But his podcast, Q&A-CSPAN with Brian Lamb has been my favorite podcast since I first started listening to a decade ago. Authors, policymakers, lots of names you know, some you don’t, always interesting. If you want to learn the art of a good interview takes notes on Lamb’s style. He never overshadows his guest, asks the questions most ego-driven media types wouldn’t and allows the subject to answer fully and completely.
“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.” – Marcus Aurelius
3. The Daily Stoic Short and always hitting that sweet spot. Need to center yourself right before you start your workday? Stoicism is all the rage right now, but no wonder, it is a game changer. Hosted by Ryan Holiday, the man who brought stoicism to Silicon Valley and hipster America dispels a daily dose of wisdom to get your thinking and acting.
4. The Art of Manliness–Damn, do I loathe the name of this podcast. Hate. The content, however, is great. Interesting authors, ideas and skills are discussed with a good host with good questions. If you can get past the works name for a podcast ever. Try it.
5. The Cult of Pedagogy podcast–if you teach then this is a great podcast to gain new insight into trends, ideas, strategies, and other useful teaching tools. I’ve tried to listen to one of these a week which has resulted in lots of cool experiments in my classroom…with some very mixed results.
Lots more Podcasts to talk about, but give one of these a listen.
A difficult two days of teaching. Doubts swirl, rumination abounds and memories linger. I always read the play or watch the movie, “The History Boys” to attempt to regain some grounding. Lots of themes in the movie but central is the conflict between Hector, the aged master teacher, and Irwin, the young imposter, fresh out of university and flush with the latest pop history. A long drive up the North Fork road brought some solace. I brought my camera and attempted to frame what I was feeling.
I am your teacher. Whatever I do in this room is a token of my trust. I am in your hands. It is a pact. Bread eaten in secret. ‘I have put before your life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live’Hector-The History Boys
The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”Hector–The History Boys
“Shall I tell you what is wrong with Hector as a teacher? It isn’t that he doesn’t produce results. He does. But they are unpredictable and unquantifiable and in the current educational climate that is no use.”the Headmaster, The History Boys
The North Fork of the Flathead River Valley could care less about five middle-aged men shooting shotguns and clay pigeons for three hours on the first gray and white day of 2019. Those mountains remain tonight, silent and cold, clouds keeping their ridges hidden. They have survived hellish winters, sweltering summers, wind, snow, and fire have scarred the long memory of this place. We are a second long flutter of a bird’s wing in the history of those ancient mountains and rivers.
We must claim our days. Even if all we build in our lifetimes will be forgotten in one generation. We must claim our days with meaning and connection.
The world we live in is a divided, broken and shallow land. It is now undeniable that depression and loneliness are on the rise, in all age groups. According to data from the General Social Survey (GSS), the number of Americans who say they have no close friends has roughly tripled in recent decades. “Zero” is also the most common response when people are asked how many confidants they have, the GSS data show. And adult men seem to be especially bad at keeping and cultivating friendships.
As Ryan Holiday explains in The Obstacle is the Way, there are eight things we can control; emotion, judgment, creativity, desire, decision, attitude, perception, and determination. And so in 2019, let us desire to be making the connections we need to. Let us make the decisions to reach out and not hide behind screens. We can be determined to claim our days with the perceptions that keep us open to new people and determined to maintain those old friendships. Let us be cautious about opinions and judgments that close ourselves off to others.
No monuments will be built to us. The North Fork Valley of the Flathead will little remember today from the other millions of years that have shaped it. We must claim the days we have before they are gone.