Friday, April 13, 2012
Living inside a self is an exhilarating play with normalcy. Just 'being' is enough challenge for me. Precarious, preposterous, precious, a well spring of unfulfilled promises, spinning wildly forward, toward one more chance to make amends.
I love my life as teacher. But challenging myself each class, to take the truth in the moment one step further, creates havoc. And this chaos of thought can offend, demise, ruffle feathers. An exhilarating ride for those right for the fight, but certainly not for those of us seeking solace in anonymity.
I seem unsuited for the predictable expectations of some. I, by my very nature, can never live up to all. Though as a job, teachers must, and some even do, fulfill expectations. As much as I too would love to please, there is too much of the odd, a swirling tempest in a tea pot, to succeed. Only in the tradgic cumbersome integrity of acceptance, accepting this lumbering old bear of a man, a compromise may be met. But the question remains, in the industry of education, whose expectations, that of the school, the students, and teacher, do I measure myself?
This labor of love, to be transformational and relevent to each and every pedagogical heart beat, plays hard on my fiber. I am thread worn, and struggle with fatigue. I love the integrity of the process, yet move too outside the box. There is too much agenda, too much room for self-deception. When I break the rules, why am I surprised by the waves of reaction? My hunger to be liked is out maneuvered by a steadfast arrogance. A guru complex lacking an essential, a bubbly charisma to win the hearts and minds of the masses.
A teacher must be likable and potently reliable. There is a tipping point in every classroom alchemy, where enough likability blends with relevance. Can I breath the full depth of self, to be the man I am, and still fulfill the needs of my target audience? As the target moves and I align my sites, I attempt to calculate trajectory. Am I teacher enough for this job?
When the teaching mojo is working, my soul sings "YES!"
But in the end,
by what measure...
the final evaluation,
of my thirty odd years,
Monday, March 19, 2012
Some can sit alone. An aesthetic life style, I imagined would be nearest perfection. A delicious delusion of my twenties, an emulated Zen simplicity. Yet in the tainted tallow of my bones, my current haiku has lost sparkle, and a shallow pool of despair encircles this listless gypsy.
I had a love that lingered long, pumping air into my stifling sadness... allowing a pattern of renewal, one more weekend free from self. Some drink, while others smoke, I seek life in the comfort of companionship. Love, and her kissing cousin lust, have been my nicotine and alcohol. I am happiest lost inside another.
I understand the Zen logic of single-mindedness. But, in the darkened cave of self... I yearn for other. Someone to distract me from the slow tremor of consequence.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Mid March and we still have snow. I have a strong urge to fill my street level planters with a banquet of colors, spring flora galore. But, as long as winter clings, best I wait. I am lonely in the cold. A lingering loss of stomach flora, after a poisoning in the Philippines, creating nightmares, in unrelenting loops, every night.
Narrowing alleyways wake me in claustrophobic panic. I have become too aware of inevitabilities, too knowledgable of vulnerable flaws, too aware of time. My dad is 90 and in pain and I have no words to comfort him, no sage advice from my 27 years in the Orient.
The alley narrows, squeezing me in... I feel cold sweat beading on my brow... I try to back out. Breathing feels restricted, my heart is clenched in panic... the force of fear startles me awake. Back in my darkened bedroom I break free.
Secure only in my aloneness.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Bo Medina Seltman was born in Bacolod city, Philippines, to Diadem Senora Medina, on December 8th 2011. He is my second son and third child and, like his sister Kai 海 and brother Zen 禅, a great deal of thought has gone into his name.
The name itself is simple, generally found in Scandinavia, for some, it is an evolution of Bob from Robert. Robert is the name I proudly inherited from my father's brother Robert Seltman killed in World War II. Wikipedia will tell you Bo is derived from an old Norse nickname 'Bua' meaning "to live" which, in itself, is quite beautiful, but different than my own odd but true ruminations.
Bo 棒 in Japanese can be translated as a walking stick, which I was first introduced to as the living symbol of Kobo Daishi.
Kobo Daishi, or Kukai 空海, was the founding father of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism, and patron saint of the 88 temple pilgrimage of Shikoku. He walks, in the symbol of the hiker's staff, with each pilgrim, and protects us from harm. Having met many enthusiastic dogs and several venomous snakes on the trail, I appreciate the pragmatics. And now at 60 I appreciate the support.
Bojutsu 棒術, the martial art of a single wooden rod, shows how, in China and later Japan, everything ends as an art form. But for me, the core symbolism of the European Tarot cards brings out the greater meaning. Our modern deck of playing cards has four suits; diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades. The clover-shaped suit originated literally as 'a club' or wand.
This was the poor man's weapon, the magician's tool of charm, the symbolic staff of authority, and at times a child's play toy. This is the archetypical symbolism of civil resistance, a gentle reminder of appropriate masculine behavior. Unlike the sword, which remains unmistakably militant, with a stick we can talk softly. Bo, for me, represents a good man willing to stand up for what is right, to protect and to serve with grace. A friend, when the path gets dodgy. A simple name for simply doing, and being, good.