Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fathers, Students, and Dogs

The good news: Chet's surgery for the malignancy on his shoulder went fine. Randy and J (who is in Abilene after his return from California Sunday) will drop him at his daughter's home on their way back to Mississippi tomorrow. After an overnight with our friends in Arlington, they will be back home Thursday. I have missed them both, and even though my kitchen is clean while they are gone (as I load the dishwasher each time I dirty a dish and then run it when it is full--what a concept!--I am still ready for them to come home. :) We have managed fine, but last night and tonight, the dogs have a hard time understanding why they don't get to eat until 9 p.m.

I came home from class tonight to find Rex (the German Shepherd) with a paper sack stuck on his head. He had opened the cabinet door under the sink and gotten into the trash and retrieved a paper sack with chicken bones in it. He was in the corner, trying to paw the sack off his head--after he had eaten the chicken bones, of course. While it was quite the amusing site, I opted to gingerly take the sack off his head as he was somewhat distressed instead of taking a picture. Looks like he did not want to wait until 9 to eat tonight. :)

The students? Last night and tonight were the two graduate classes. Tonight they had role plays for the engagement phase of groups. Most of them are experienced and quite confident in themselves as they lead groups all the time, or at least, some of the time, or at least have done one or two. :) One of the things I love most about groups, and teaching groups, and observing groups, is the concept that the group is a microcosm of life. That was certainly illustrated tonight.

I tend to believe that experiencing the "here and now" is what teaches us what we need to know and be able to do--in our own lives, as well as when we are "training the trainers." It was "role play" but because even in the roles we play, we bring who we are into the scene, it was real. There was fun and laughter; there was pain and deep emotion; there was fear and concern about 'doing the right thing.' I also tend to believe that we have the ability to learn from anything if we are open to the lesson--while understanding that being open means being ready and it is okay that we are each ready at different times and places. If I could "give" students one gift, it would be that they could be kind to themselves; that they would understand they will never know all there is to know, but that because they are here and engaged in this process of discovery with the rest of us who are on this current path, they are 'further along the continuum of development' than others who are not on the seeking path.

I know there are times to be the "expert" and provide answers. I know there are times to allow the student/client/other to provide the answer. It all depends: on the situation, and the judgment of the teacher/therapist/other as to what you do and when you do it. I think that is the part that is most exciting for me. I think of those times I have been least "sure" of myself, and what I learned from it.

Back in the 80s, I was asked to do a talk radio show on mental health issues. My initial reaction was " I don't know enough. What if someone asks me something I don't know." My friend and colleague and asked me, "At what point do you think you will know enough?" I realized then that I would never have all the answers all the time, no matter what I did. I did what I knew to do: "Feel the fear, and do it anyway."

My first radio show--I have a vague recollection that it was about working mothers--I often found myself listening more and talking less. I often asked, "What do you think about that?" And while I did know statistics and facts and information that the general public did not, and sometimes I shared them, it was much more important to simply hear people, respond to their understanding of the world, and challenge them to consider it might possibly be a different way. Above all else, I did not want to be the kind of talk show host who had all the answers--as none of them do, or who confront people for the opportunity to put them down--as some of them do, or to agree with everything they said and have the callers/listeners leave with out thinking that there might be anther way of considering the situation.

What does this have to do with the students tonight? That I love watching them reach their own understandings of how to practice in a way that meshes with their unique personality and style, that because I, too, have had to make that journey that I understand it and the importance of not saving them from their fears, and most of all, that I believe in them that they will be able to do this work.

Louis L'Amour wrote in one of his books: The trail is not the thing. The end of the trail is the thing.

I tend to believe that is true.


Betty said...

Here I go again! I just finished writing here and lost the page. Louis L'Amour mentioned that it wasn't the end of the trail but the journey getting there. So true! I do find your musings interesting and insightful. Because of your observance of all living things, I find that I am more aware of the wild life in the backyard. Today, i saw the most exotic bird (for NJ). It was a deep scarlet and next to it, a smaller yellow bird. The red was larger than a cardinal so guess I'll have to get out my bird book. Anyway, I knew you would have your camera in hand. Unfortunately, I didn't.

Suzassippi said...

Thanks, Betty. I love the opportunity I have had to join with your family and the things I have experienced from my relationships with you all.

Kathi said...

Listening is one of the best gifts we can give someone. Unfortunately, good listeners are so few. Have you noticed how most people, instead of really being in the moment listening, look like they are about to burst with what they have to say next, so they miss the thoughts being shared? I think teaching school teaches us to be better listeners, and in the process we learn so much about our students and ourselves. On the animal front, I was driving up my street earlier today, and right in the middle of the road was a vulture eating a dead squirrel. I had to stop the car and give the bird some room before proceeding. I felt sorry for the squirrel but couldn't help but marvel at Mother Nature. Vultures up close are amazing looking animals! I didn't have my camera either...