Today I awoke up with a riot going off in my mind. I desperately needed to think my way though an interesting dilemma I’d never foreseen – interest has grown so dramatically in my small 6 week 1 credit 6 student fall leadership class that I’ve been asked to turn it into a 12 week 3 credits 35 students seminar in the spring. The conundrum is whilst I’m truly loving my leadership class (I’ve learned more from these kids in just 3 weeks than any leadership class or book has ever taught me) the addtional teahcing load will interfere with my water polo.
So having just perfected a 5 mile trail route up past the golf course and into the hills, I figured a think tank run would help. So I put on all my billboard Adidas running apparel, and hit the trail. I haven’t run with my iPod for 4 months now, but I had this crazy earworm in my head (BT- Never Gone Back Down)which always makes me run fast, hence I mendaciously stuck my head phones in, switched my brain off, turned my dual V8s on.
At some point along the trail I couldn’t concentrate on my problem, so I turned off the music and just ran “chasing the silences”. I was about halfway up the first major switchback when I heard something out of place. What I didn’t know was that hunting season officially started this week. And in Otsego County there are tons of hunters and millions more deer! Turns out my route runs straight through prime hunting area!
Thankfully some hunter saw me coming up the path and realized I was heading into trouble, and got my attention. I stopped where I was and he came down. Told me how crazy I was, and told me to go back. He gave me his bright orange overcoat so any other hunters would see me, and told me to leave it at the trail-head.
I don’t know for sure if I would’ve been shot. But if a damn vice president could shoot a hunter, I’m pretty sure the chances of getting shot were greater than I’d have liked! I know its easy to treat any banal situation as fatalistic, but like I said in an earlier post, when you turn over your choices to God you can follow impulse.
I still don’t know what I’m going to do about this leadership class. Sacrifice, Compromise, but I gotta now find a new running route. Change is constant, routine is drab.
Save the Turkeys!
What do Peaches & Bobsleds have in common?
Well consider this abstraction. One of the reasons I moved to the country was to “slow down” and do something different. It felt like a perfect fit for my new philosophy of wanting nothing –“the more you know, the less you need.”
This philosophy came about through reflective observation in which I concluded that however long it takes, my mind will eventually desire the opposite of what I have. Some people call this ambition, the need to always improve. Now I’m as ambitious if not more than most people. Not many people sacrifice as much as me to achieve their goals. But I wanted to reduce the ego effect.
So I figured living in the country would inevitably teach me to “slow down”, ergo want less. Thus or However on Sunday I found myself at church and one of the messages that stuck in my head was “if we hand our choices over to God, we are free to act as the impulse moves us.” which invariably lead me into accepting an invitation to go bobsledding. (!!!!$#%)
Having never really been one to sign up for potential self inflicted pain, I too was shocked to find myself agreeing to this. But many will point out that I’ve done many a stupid thing at the invitation of a beautiful woman. And so on Tuesday I went on a bobsledding date. Most people go to movies, or dinner, I guess life in the country is truly different.
While I found myself speeding along an icy roller coaster course, on 2 thin blades, I concluded that this was definitely not “going slow”. But it was an exhilarating experience nonetheless. I didn’t really think I’d actually bobsled, but I was thrown in as the 2nd person on a beginner run. And it was hella fun. A possible new replacement for surfing (until I start snowboarding).
They say that “some parts of the world you make a conscious effort to visit, and others have to wait until fate delivers you there”. So if you’re moving to the country you won’t just eat a lot of peaches, you might get to bobsled too.
The less you want the more you will get.
Tonight I was at church and the band started playing “Power of the Gospel” by Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals – Live from Mars Album. This is one of my favorite songs, by a legendary artist. (Pete & Candace introduced me to BH back in ’03).
This is only my second visit to this particular church, but I’m definitely going back. It wasn’t just the music and the singing, the service and people just reflected my relationship with God (fun, loving, & understanding) a lot more than most. But we always find what we’re looking for, if we open our eyes, don’t we?
So I am also teaching a leadership class for senior undergrads. Leadership studies is such an open ended and broad topic, filled with so many various and contradictory models, that it can be quite a boring topic. I feel like John Keating. I’m actually quite passionate about leadership, particularly growing and developing leadership with college kids, a side effect of coaching. My goal is to stimulate leadership thinking, instead of just studying theories & models. I’m using the Oxford teaching model, because I can get to know my students better, encourage creative thinking and debate. (there’s a reason Oxford is regarded as the best undergraduate teaching in the world).
So using are a few techniques I picked up from The Dr. Leonard Valverde (an Arizona State legend) I chose this youtube video I found
as my first discussion piece. I’ve used it when I tried to teach leadership to some of my water polo kids, and I’ve found that there are so many things you can learn from it, without turning leadership into something stuffy and boring.
The next discussion piece relates to Tempered Radicals. Which is a topic that influenced me heavily when I honestly critically evaluated myself – I was probably more a Tempered Moderate than a Tempered Radical.
The last piece im using is a case study which each student must do on any activist leader (Ghandi, Mandela, King, et al) based on my theory that “the majority is always wrong”.
“Leadership is about being vulnerable so people trust you. It’s about telling people things that they may not want to hear in the right way at the right time so they respect you. It is about giving up your power and serving others. It is never about “you.” It is not about what you say….it’s about what you do.”
I seem to be finding strength and God in every day random things more and more often. So I’m a massive nerdy bookworm #Fact. I took a careless sabbatical from reading while I was in the desert. But I’m tired of hiding from who I truly am anymore, I’m just a big ubër nerd. While I was in the living mortuary, reading was the only solitude I could find. Usually I read while I listen to my iPod, but in that human abattoir of discontent, iPods (and cellphones) apparently interfere with their useless kreepy-krawly protruding instruments. So I was forced to read in silence.
At first it was really difficult to block out the world around me and focus on the book. The concentration, the focus, the silence, all the things, that are required for serious reading are not within most peoples reach anymore. My Grampa used to say “the angels of the silences have run amuck” maybe that’s what he meant. But I persevered and eventually found comfort again in silence. Being disconnected. Being “alone” per se suddenly became important.
When I got out of that organ pawn shop, all I wanted to do was read or do things in silence, hear the natural order of things. Now this doesn’t mean I gave up on my iPod. Hell No! Music has and always will be something a big part of my life. Silence just helped me find something more tangible & real within music. Now when I listen to music. I listen to it at full blast. I want to hear every instrument, every note, every syllable, every quiver of the vocal cord. I want to feel music. when you realize that the lyrics are such a small component of the music, you will understand what im getting at.
Rediscovering the silences won’t make sense to a lot of people. It took me 5 months to make sense of it in any sort of way. Probably some sort of spiritual mumbo-jumbo. But I can tell you that when you find silence again, you will hear things very very differently. Lets put it this way, I no longer even run with my iPod. It still comes with me, but I use it to track my distance with my Nike+. I now listen to myself breathing. I now listen to each step I take. I now listen to the road or path. And you know how much I hate running. What’s incredibly weird is that my running has also improved. Not that it matters.
Tomorrow my entire Amazon wishlist is meant to arrive. Silence + snow + a fire place + 27 books + heaven. I said I was a Nerd!
“I dream of Michelangelo when I’m lying in my bed
Little angels hang above my head and read me like an open book
Suck my blood, break my nerve offer me their arms
Well, I will not be an enemy of anything
I’ll only stand here
Waiting for you
All my sins…
I said that I would pay for them if I could come back to you
All my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming”