Sunday, January 29, 2012

learning to choose

the throttle & the brake

in early childhood development
I’ve questioned the amount of choice energetically given to kids,
I’ve worried about entitlement, indulgence,
particularly around food,
for, to me, appreciation of what one has
seems more important
than an enticement of possibilities,
any use of resource should have appreciation of preciousness,
and, further, whether to choose “a” or “b” has seemed
six of one and half a dozen of the other to me,

now as I think of my middle schoolers
in terms of the challenging drama we work to produce,
I appreciate all that work on choice,
how much learning to choose,
and how much learning how to choose,
is vital work we do in our youngest years,

now with middle schoolers
I feel the debilitating power of the tentative,
the self-doubt, the allure of the choice to hide away,
to not risk ridicule from peers,
an excessive social awareness, though social awareness
is how we notice and adjust to the other,
the group much of who we are,
I contend that just as self-indulgence can be egotistical
so can over-indulgence of the other deny one’s own self,
and give the group too much control,
in the play we push and push
so that the individual asserts a brightness:
loud, forceful, attention-grabbing,
all benefit from the almost paradox
of self-centeredness actually helping the whole center itself,
when each individual chooses such self-assertion,
it’s still within the wholeness of the group,
when each part is fully itself
the whole is larger and better
than it would have been
if the two-year-old had not learned
the power of the right choice,

we all need to know when to use the throttle and when the brake,
and to feel the confidence and wisdom to act within the choices.

by Henry H. Walker
January 24, ’12

Sunday, January 22, 2012

hand still on the rudder

buffeted in winds

anger seduces us
with its simple elegance of pure feeling,
a self-righteousness that rises up
and declares what is,
no ambiguity to parry the thrust of self outward,
our fury can convince us we’re in touch with our emotions,
whereas I contend that one emotion can blind us
to the range of self we can express,

when we lose control in sobbing, or laughing, reactions,
we stay in touch with our depths,

we parallel our early childhood
when truth didn’t shade into subtleties
or hide behind bulwarks of denial,
joy and despair the two faces each moment can wear,

maturity allows us to keep the rudder in control
to hold us forward,
despite buffeting winds that tear at us,

I, for one, need to let
my emotions blow free every once in a while
and trust that I will continue forward,
my hand still on the rudder,
despite how well I can let myself feel the buffeting
of how unfair and hurtful the world can be.

by Henry H. Walker
January 20, ’12

Saturday, January 21, 2012

science & religion

the right rake

our eyes pull in a chaos in front of us
and something within finds pattern within the shapes we notice,
we love the order of order,
the sense that it all does make sense,
that we can know a rightness
that not only feels good but is good,

science is a discipline
that forces us to make sure
that what we think, what we hope, what we guess,
actually survives the rake of what is provable,
the razor that cuts away the superfluous
and leaves us with the simple elegance of what is right,
a right that sometimes elders the blind hope of our guesses,
like a parent that holds us sure to a right way,

what also strikes me is what can be the rightness of faith,
a leap of belief that can find order in what can seem random,
yet still can also check its truth against what the heart reveals,
that chooses a place within upon which to stand,
to then cast out and pull back in
all the experience that can seem random,
then we can find that the heart can be as true as the head,
as long at it, too, applies the rake
that clears away anything that blocks us
from the order inherent within the best we can hope to find,

revelation can be of both science and of religion,
and can even reveal the two as making a one,
if heart & mind can work together,
with the right rake held between them.

by Henry H. Walker
January 18, ’12

Sunday, January 15, 2012

not Descartes

I care, therefore I am

what a gift to have a job
that not only pays the bills for the “how” of one’s life,
those bills that come due each and every month,
but also the bills that come due each moment,
for the “why” of one’s life,
and demand of me an accounting
as to what of value I’m doing with my life,
an accounting of how well the charges are doing,
each precious other who spends a time with me
in class, in project, in the finding a way forward
to where each can be the best answers
to the questions asked within the possibilities of each life,

I love to open a door,

and see it used,
and I can also love the daunting challenge of figuring what to do
when the way forward is blocked:
the need to take a deep breath,
consider the walls between us and the way forward,
and then I have to hold the student
in as much light as I can envision
to find the track through a dark wood
that can seem trackless,

beyond our powers to imagine us moving forward,

I know with the tears, that readily push into my eyes,
how much my heart drives me,
my intellect a partner, but more tool than driver,

I care, and therefore, that is how and what I am.

by Henry H. Walker
January 13, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

status report

age is moving on

my age is moving on:
in a month I’ll be at the age the Beatles chose
to wonder about with “will you still?”s,
my ears still mostly plugged
against the siren-call of retirement,
the joy of doing with my being still feels right,
somewhat as a way to balance
the cost to the Earth of my life,

this weekend has been of saying “no” in what I eat,
of getting to chore after chore, inside & outside, & for school,
so that space and direction that just need doing
find the order they need,

our big middle school play opens
in a little more than a month,
and a lot needs doing that I can help get going:
logistics, direction as to what and how,
the finding of paths amidst the helter-skelter of other paths,
other commitments, or that of avoidance,
or sickness, or self-doubt that are strewn seemingly everywhere,
and maze the way forward,

I see the potential of the whole to come together
and of each individual to find the way forward,
so that the Light within finds the way out,
and each is as bright as can be, and acknowledged as such,
and that each piece of a possible whole clicks into place,
and all touched by that wholeness are better
for how well the light then shines.

by Henry H. Walker
January 10, ’12

Monday, January 2, 2012

a mind, and to use it

spoiled and spoiling

parent to child,
amazing in the time and care invested each moment
in support of every step forward,
in every climb upward,
and what impresses me even more
is how the parent, when it’s time,
can let go of control,
though never of fear and hope,
and the child can skin a knee, or not,
and wend his or her way into independence,

as a species, I fear when we don’t grow up that way,
when we don’t appreciate free choice, and its consequences,
and we then act as if we are but entitled children
with God expected to pick up all our messes,

rather, I think we often skin our knees
and we are best as God’s children when we learn
and grow up enough to be worth the love
that brought us this far
and that hopes that we are not so spoiled
as to spoil our own future,
God gave us free will and also a mind:
should we not use it?

by Henry H. Walker
December 31, ’11

Sunday, January 1, 2012

the sad joy of memory

I cry hot tears

our emotions are magma
fitfully churning underneath the crust
that we vainly hope is all of who we are,
all in control, and steady as she goes,

I am blessed with being a hot spot
where the heat doesn’t just slowly rise
and shape the above from deep beneath,
rather, it forces its way out, shows itself,
and I know what drives me,
at least enough to see it and guess at a name,

as my grandchildren leave to go home,
as my children and spouses leave to go home,
I cry hot tears,

I sit here in the evening,
and my gaze is drawn to artifacts and pictures from the Smokies,
the tools I’ve found and gathered still hold the shape

of the work and vision they partnered in the shaping,
like the tools, the mountains are built well-enough
to hold and remember

so that I can reach to truly remember and imagine,
and I feel the sad joy with which memory honors what once was,

I surround myself with talismans that ache to embody
what has been wrought and thus help me envision
what can be wrought, what should be wrought,

book after book fill my shelves
and use words and the authors’ sense
to open a window as well as the tools do
and as well as the emotions do
which will not let me rest in the illusion of constancy,

last night I drifted off to sleep
and my subconscious burst forth
with horrible dreams of loss after loss
of all that I love in a trial and vanishing
as verdict after verdict rules it is time for dissolution,

today, the day after, is of leaving,

and it’s also of laundry and putting the house back together,
I miss the fullness that filled the house,
and I also like the time alone now
so that my thoughts and feelings can separate themselves
in the order and quiet
from the crescendoes that have been so full the last few days.

by Henry H. Walker
December 30, ’11