For My Daughter in Reply to a Question
We’re not going to die,
we’ll find a way.
We’ll breathe deeply
and eat carefully.
We’ll think always on life.
There’ll be no fading for you or for me.
We’ll be the first
and we’ll not laugh at ourselves ever
and your children will be my grandchildren.
Nothing will have changed
except by addition.
There’ll never be another as you
and never another as I.
No one ever will confuse you
nor confuse me with another.
We will not be forgotten and passed over
and buried under the births and deaths to come.
Tomorrow I begin my 18th year of teaching. Roughly 1,800 students can say that I attempted to teach them. I’ve grown an immeasurable amount since that first period bell rung so many years ago.
Summer break has come to an end. It really came together, much accomplished, much learned and the experiences I lived through recharged me, brought me back to a good place. I think I might finally be where I’m supposed to be. Thank you to everyone, I’m so lucky.
One final last trip into the backcountry this weekend. The weather didn’t cooperate, but even on her worst days Montana is where you want to be.
A decade ago somebody told me to find a picture of myself as a kid. I had to find a picture in which I looked happy. Furthermore I was instructed to think back to the mindset that I had when the picture was taken so that I could capture the innocence, joy, unmitigated happiness of youth, if only as a memory.
Perhaps life’s greatest tragedy is that we lose that sense of youth.
What a difference patience, wisdom and maturity add to any situation. This has been the summer of waiting for those first reactions to pass. There is power in letting fierce emotion blast through your consciousness and waiting for the right and true response to develop. Caught between the poles of getting things done and getting things correct is a sweet spot that allows for you to be genuine.
This summer I bought a good microphone. A Podcast is coming. No great theme, no great mission. Me talking to people. I love good stories, interesting people and intelligent arguments. Stay tuned.
Today’s reading in Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic dealt with recognizing joy. We often live in constant hunger for more, something we don’t currently have. Imagine that, with the blink of an eye, you have all that you desire. Would it be joyous? Bliss?
What if we have already achieved joy, but desire masks the symptoms? What would make you happy right now? Don’t let desire cancel joy. I spent three consecutive days floating the North and Middle Fork of the Flathead, pure bliss. My mind was unsettled, my conscious convicted and my attention erratic. Always ask, “Is this joy?” If it is, savor it.
I’m traveling far and wide in the next few weeks. I’ve also given up on Facebook (for now) which was the primary way people linked up with this blog. If you think what I have to say is at all worth sharing, please do.
This past weekend Whitefish hosted the first Under the Big Sky music festival. On almost every level, musically, organizationally, socially and any other metric you could think of this event was nearly perfect.
One of the best parts of Spring in the Flathead Valley is the slow opening of the Going To The Sun Road inside Glacier National Park. As the National Park Service works to plow and remove the snow to Logan Pass, the road is open to cyclist only. And so for roughly two months unparalleled road riding is available. It’s a treasure and a gift that I simply can’t get enough of.
In the spring of 1999 I was working at an adjudicated youth rehabilitation facility in Boulder, Montana. The details are long lost into the vacuum of my forgotten memory but on the afternoon April 20th, a beautiful spring day in Montana I first learned of Columbine High School. The 13 killed that day would soon be surpassed at Virginia Tech, and Newtown and the many other places now synonymous with young lives brutally extinguished by the unstable with far too easy access to firearms.
At Columbine the police waited hours to respond till the gunmen were located and the SWAT team was ready to sweep the school, the standard procedure for SWAT scenario up to that point, victims bled to death waiting. As a result law enforcement adopted a policy that all available officers would respond immediately to kill the gun, without waiting for backup.
At Virginia Tech, students and teachers who barricaded classrooms or hid from the gunman survived. Classrooms where the gunman was able to gain access saw the majority of those killed. As a result policy was changed again to instruct teachers to barricade classrooms, hide students and wait for the police to come and eliminate the threat, which usually was under 10 minutes.
At the Newtown Elementary School students who hid from the gunman and were found died. Teachers and students who ran from the gunman lived. Policy was changed to instruct students to run if they could, barricade and hide if they couldn’t, and fight if they had to. Two years ago, all teachers in the school district I teach in were required to spend a day long training in which the “Run, Lock, Fight” responses were explained, practiced and simulated.
This week, the New Yorker magazine published an article about the changing nature of mass casualty first response in medicine. Tournaquits, once seen as barbaric measures that cost victims limbs are now seen as the best response to gunshots to limbs. Wounds to the body proper are now treated with dressings coated in chemicals that promote blood clotting (my trainer referred to them as “Israeli battle dressings”). Teachers are taught to be able to lock their doors within seconds or to keep them locked at all times. Many teachers have cans of wasp spray strategically placed around their classroom to spray at intruders and disable them.
I must admit that I rarely enter a room or building without noticing the exits and thinking quickly and quietly what I would do, where I would hide, if there was a sudden explosion of violence from a gunman. The chances this is going to happen to me are still small, but maybe I’ll be ready.
Also, as a gun owner myself. I should say that I would gladly wait weeks, months and years till I could purchase a new firearm or a used firearm while my mental health, criminal record, weapon storage situation, and firearm training was evaluated. I have never needed a gun immediately and think these common sense evaluations would save thousands of lives a year.
Welcome to teaching in twenty first century America.