Creating Closure

Grace at Celtic Woman

Good Morning from Pennsylvania, from the Upper Sanctum, from an airport, from Fog and Flame,

I have been working on this blog for more than three weeks, but there have been so many things on my plate that it got pushed off the stove. As I write this part, I am here in Menomonie, having been here since last Wednesday evening. My life is been a whirlwind of emotions since arriving. The burial of George and Lydia, the memorial gathering for Lydia this past Saturday, and actually realizing that my time in Menomonie, and the actual need to be here, has come to a close, forces me to admit that the significant chapter in my life will soon be closed in some ways. My time here in Wisconsin was the longest time that I had spent in any one place since graduating from high school over 40 years ago. I will actually surpass that later this year in Bloomsburg. In spite of that, Menomonie and Wisconsin will always, in some aspect, be my home. It was the home of my predecessors, my ancestors. The memories and the time both professionally and personally shaped many of the things that I now hold valuable. Lydia taught me what it meant to give, at least in giving as far as resources. While I have always been a giving person as far as time and energy, it was in the giving of resources that she changed my life and I have worked to change the lives of others. That is my lasting legacy to you Lydia, to give as you did. I also need to listen to you more carefully as you used to admonish me to be careful in my giving.

The cascading emotions that I’ve gone through in the past week as I walked the places we had walked together, be the hallways of COH or Lammers grocery store, while they memories were joyful the emotions were sad and I cried. Anyone who would’ve seen me in the grocery store the other day would have come to the conclusion that I probably had significant problems. I’m staying away from fast food, but I had to go to Burger King last night because it’s the first place you and I had ever eaten together. I could see you clear as day wrapping up the remaining fries for “the little ones”. If you were watching us, as I’m sure you are, I’m pretty sure you know we are overwhelmed trying to imagine the best way to manage your estate. I know that Nate and I have very different concerns and different needs. I’m glad that you chose to give the house to him. I’ve been fortunate to have people in the little house. As I walked around the property in your yard I could see you with your broom. I was pleased when people told me that I have kept the property up in a way that you would’ve been proud. I’m not totally convinced of that as far as the yard, but then again it is winter.

Last evening I said my goodbyes to a variety of people they all asked if I would be coming back. There’s still stuff to do and I have to pack some things to move to Pennsylvania now, so the last part of May I will be in the house. However I know that will be the last time. Thank you for sharing such a magnificent place with me. Thank you for sharing such an astounding life with me; thank you for allowing me to share my life with you. When I have spoken with people these last days, the thing I heard repeatedly was how we took care of each other. I don’t know that I saw it as taking care of you, but rather we cared about each other and we grew to love each other. I know that you became a parent, a mother, to me as I told you that last night. When you whispered to me ” I know.”, the last words you spoke to me, I knew that hearing as your last words as such an affirmation was an unequaled gift to me. After the trip in May and the completion of gathering my belongings, a chapter of my life, a paramount portion of my life, will be completed. There will no longer be either a responsibility or requirement for me to return; yet, I cannot imagine never visiting there again. There are fond memories of people and events. What I have realized this past week is it is not about the things, in spite of some of their stunning beauty, it is about people and the memories created.

It is almost the end of spring break when I realized I’ve pretty much gone through the motions for the last three months. I’ve gotten done what is absolutely necessary and yet not even that’s true. What I’m realizing is that losing Lydia has affected me more than I knew. Even though I’ve been 1000 miles away for the past six years, part of my heart was still Menomonie. That too has had consequences. I have realized that from time to time.The other day someone wrote a post of the following meme: “you know how deeply you loved by how deeply you grieve.” Last night I went to see Celtic Woman for the third time. While I greatly enjoyed each concert I have attended, last night was special. First, I was able to go with Grace, who was kind enough to step in and use my second ticket. We had a wonderful time. Second, the concert itself was phenomenal. There was more Irish and Gaelic than previous concerts;  there was more dancing. Two of the three main primaries, I had seen or heard before. The newest member, Mairead Carlin, at least to me, was sensational. The two men dancing astounded me. Somehow it’s apropos that I went to see them only a few days before St. Patrick’s Day. It is still one of my deep desires to travel to Ireland and if I could make it happen when they were there performing and see them in concert there, that might just complete my bucket list. A year ago I was writing about culture and ethnic background. I wrote that blog sitting in the Fog and Flame, and ironically I plan to spend a good part of the day there today. It is time for me to get more disciplined more focused and to make some tough decisions. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with a former colleague and she pushed me to think about things in ways I’m generally unwilling to do so. She was insightful, honest, and helpful. What is it that allows us to feel fulfilled, to feel accomplished,  or as I noted before, to be content. You might note that the first two of the previous list were to feel, the last one was to be.I do not want to feel content, I want to be content. I believe it is so much more than just checking things off or completing a bucket list. I believed to be truly content would allow someone to be truly happy. Through my conversation yesterday, I’ve been awakened or realized once again that maybe giving does not automatically create or equal happiness. There is more to understand. I am in the Fog and Flame now and I am editing and proofreading before posting. There is a concept; it is something I preach, but need to practice.

It is now three weeks since I have posted and what I realize is that life is unpredictable regardless how much we might plan. I’m quite sure that she did not plan her life to end quite as it did. I can actually imagine that she would’ve been content to go to the garage and turn on the car as she had threatened to do and she fallen off the roof. Again, I feel compelled to consider the letter someone sent arguing that she should’ve been allowed to live in her house until her last days. How do I allow that to happen when the consequence was likely would’ve been more tragic than being in a place where the caregivers actually cared for her and loved her? I know with all my heart that I did the best for her I could because I promised to do so. It’s only three weeks from now that Lydia would’ve been at COH for four years. So much as happened in that time; and there were a myriad of things to attend to both around the property and in her immediate care. Again, in both cases, I worked to do the best I could to keep the promise made almost 8 years ago sitting at Perkins one morning eating breakfast. There are still things I must do to complete all that’s been asked, all that was promised. Some of those who have known her for years told me that I had done really well and II had done an outstanding job of providing care for her. While their words are meaningful, and I am certainly grateful, ultimately, what matters is what she thought. I think they are summed up in the last night I saw her living. As I cried on her shoulder and I told her she had become my mother all of the sudden she began to rub the back of my head, and as I looked into amazing blue eyes one last time she whispered softly, “I know.” Those two words are perhaps the most amazing gifts I’ve ever been given.

Last night during the concert they sang the song I most appreciate about immigrants and those people coming to this country to make a life for themselves. It is actually one of my favorite Celtic Woman songs, “Isle of Tears,”  and as the music began before the lyrics (and I am not quite sure of the name of the instrument which creates a sort of a mournful oboe tone – it is called Uilleann Pipes) I told Grace that I dedicated this song to Lydia. I’m hoping I might find a YouTube video of it and I will post it at the end of this blog. While I’ve had to start over my life from time to time, it was not when I was 15 or 17 or to come to a new country and learn a new language. When I generally take time to ponder and think about what Lydia accomplished, I am more and more astounded by this amazing little woman (4’10” and 90 pounds). From time to time I complain about such minor things in comparison. It is interesting to me that the persons who become closest of my life are those persons who understand their heritage, live and celebrate that heritage, and understand the complexity of our diversity. What I’ve realized again is how little I know how much there is yet to learn. And learn is what I want to do. I want to learn languages;  I want to learn the culture; I want to learn what’s important to them and to me. To understand the differences and appreciate those differences. I want to help people realize through my own actions that reaching out to those we meet bridges gaps, provides understanding and opportunity, and makes our lives better.  While there is much more I could write I need to focus on some work and I should get something posted as it is been too long. Lydia I will continue to work diligently to complete the things I promised. Grace thank you for going to the concert with me last night. To all of you who continue to read this blog and follow me I’m grateful for each of you.

I will actually share two videos with you. This YouTube video I created of the University of Wisconsin-Stout remembering Lydia, an amazing educator, a phenomenal intellect, and a woman who changed by life. I miss you, Lydia. The second video is the video of the song I dedicated to you last night as I listened to the concert.

Michael (Dr. Martin)

Tartar de Entender

10628650_10205924038641083_1788915878829508925_o

Bueno temprano en mañana,

I am going to attempt with both what I know and some translator- assistance to write this first part in Spanish. I am back working on my language acquisition skills diligently, so this is good work for me to do. At the end of my poly-lingual writing I will provide a synoptic translation. Clasifiqué papeles y blogs ayer por la tarde y luego trabajé en el español durante casi siete horas anoche. Volví a casa anoche y me quedé el bastante mucho tiempo para fijar algo para comer. Entonces cepillé mis dientes y me í a la cama. Ahora, cuando parece ser típico, estoy despierto en 3:30 por la mañana. Hablé con mi mejor amigo y su esposa anoche en el teléfono. Era maravilloso alcanzarlos, pero esto era también una palmada áspera de la realidad. Como usted sabe, si usted ha estado leyendo mi blog, Lydia, las mujeres asombrosas que se hicieron mi madre, han fallecido en los pocos meses pasados. También he experimentado el paso de otros en mi vida cuando esto pareció el camino muy temprano para tales cosas de pasar, un hermano, una hermana, hasta una abuela, y una madre adoptada. En tres de aquellos casos yo era en los mis años 20 o años 30. El paso de mi hermana era también demasiado temprano, pero había cosas que contribuyeron a su paso en los sus años 50 que hacen su muerte más comprensible. Ella era el primer contemporáneo faces. Quizás es debido a mi propia batalla y bocacalle 60 este año que la mirada, aunque de una distancia, mi mejor amigo comience a perder su batalla contra ALS más rápidamente es tan difícil para mí. Quizás es porque me encuentro todavía llorar por Lydia en momentos. Quizás es porque la realidad dura de ningunas promesas en la vida mira fijamente mí en la cara. fallecer cuando mi propio paso o mortalidad parecen más probables.

It took me about 45 minutes to write that paragraph, but it was good exercise. For those of you who cannot read or understand Spanish, I spoke about my last day and the opportunity I had to speak with my best friend and his wife (I have noted in other posts on Facebook or elsewhere, perhaps in blogs that he is losing his battle to ALS). I noted that I have lost people to early before their time, often relatives. While some of that was in my 20s and 30s, losing my life-long friend now seems to be a very tough reality check. I realize that we all have a limited time, but this one is so unfair to me in so many ways. I noted that perhaps it is because I’m turning 60 that watching Peter losing his battle to this terrible disease it’s been so hard. Perhaps, in part, it’s because Lydia just passed away and that still causes me to cry at times. Regardless it forces me to face my mortality, which is something that I’ve been doing on a regular basis this past year. That is a somewhat close paraphrase of my Spanish entry.

Perhaps it’s because my latest tests with the doctor were less than ideal. What I know is we have very little sense of what or when our life is completed, or do we? I think there must always be a sense of “but wait, I have more I want to accomplish.” Stephanie wrote to me that I needed to be prepared for a significant difference even speaking on the phone. I know when I go to see him in a couple weeks it will be terrifically difficult. Not because Peter will make it so, but because I will need to literally face the reality that the time my best friend has left on this earth is extremely limited. I’m forced to stare at the harshness of a disease that suffocates the host body. All the ice bucket challenges in the world cannot help him, and while I was asked to do the challenge, I chose to give the money instead. As I got off the phone last night once again I am finding myself in tears. I have spoke at times of justice; where’s the justice in this? Is there even a small measurable way that one can find justice or fairness, when it is likely that Peter will not see his daughter married at the end of the summer? While I struggled to let Lydia go, she was 90. She had lived in amazing life. Is there a reasonable time for one to die? The very question is fraught with absurdity, but I’m forced to admit that even in this case with Peter, at some point as his body leaves him helpless, his death will be compassionate. Mostly for him because of the dreadful consequences of ALS. In a bittersweet way I might even see some measure of compassion or relief for Stephanie, Whitney, and Dane. But search as I hard as I am able, I can find nothing fair or just and the reality that a 58-year-old man is having his very life taken away from him breath by breath, labored movement by movement is brutal beyond words. I think of my former colleague, David Tank, and I still vividly see the picture of him crying as he pushed his wife’s casket down the aisle of the church after she lost her battle with the same horrendous disease. That image in my mind is still one of the most touching things I have ever witnessed. Peter was my best man and I was his. He sang at my ordination. I sang at his daughter’s baptism. Those are some of our intertwining moments. There is an entire tapestry of events that we have shared.

I know the clichés of life and our feeble attempts to make sense of the nonsensical. As I struggled to find the right words and make some sense of my own feelings, it is perhaps now that the words of Sr. Galán provide some comfort. For they are the words that I said to Peter and Stephanie last night. I know there’s not much I can do from 1000 miles away. In fact there’s little more I could do if I were next-door. I could visit more often and I could spend more time, but I’m forced to realize of the giftedness time is. I’m forced to admit that I’ve been able to have a best friend for over 55 years. A friend, who which in spite of any distance or periods of not actually speaking because of space and life, always knew who I was as I knew him. Perhaps one of the most important things I have done was to sit down and actually write him a letter and his birthday two and a half years ago. I remember speaking to him on the phone one night and crying. I praise God for that call and that letter. I told them both last night again how much I love them. José, perhaps you’re right, it’s all we have. I guess that raises another question. If it is all we have why are we so conditional in giving it? Is it because we’re fragile or is it because people don’t know what to do with it? Somehow Dan Fogelberg is in my thoughts again. I will probably embed another video of one of his songs at the end of this post. “The heart is too heavy and fragile to hold and I am afraid I might break it.” Yet, this is whereI find myself struggling to understand what you mean, José. How can my heart be big enough to love all the people? For me to love someone means they have dramatically changed my life. It is not something that happens automatically. Perhaps it should; perhaps I’m just incapable. For me to love someone means not only have they found their way into my heart (and perhaps my house), but I have made myself vulnerable, and not just a little bit (I do not do things a little bit), but in a way that they have enormous power. Ideally, they don’t use it in a malicious way and even when we are hurt, sometimes it is not their intent, but our fragility. As my father used to say, “the people we love the most can hurt us the worst.” As I told you last week I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of this. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to talk again this evening as Melissa has once again surprised me and we will all be together. Perhaps by the time you come, you will have read this and I have no doubt you will have things to say. I always appreciate your thoughts and the passion of your insights. I am always thinking about what you say more than you might ever know. Cuando Melissa a menudo me da miradas de la consternación o hace rodar sus ojos en la exasperación, usted sabe que siempre considero cosas y trato de tener sentido de ellos, pero realmente no pienso que cualquiera de ustedes es que diferente.

Is now after 5:00 a.m. and a couple hours of sleep still seem like a good plan. I would like to be at my office by 8:00 or 8:30 at the latest. I have a lot of my plate for the weekend and perhaps going to dinner and chatting tonight will be a nice distraction from other things that I need to accomplish. This past week was quite productive. The certificate and the minor revision are onto the last level of approval. The concentration is not far behind. If I can get those things done by the end of the academic year and I can hand someone a diploma, I think I will feel like I’ve completed all I need to do. Anything beyond that is an extra gift. Tal vez el punto es este: no hay ningún entendimiento, allí sólo hace. Y es importante hacer todo lo posible podemos.

Off to sleep; thanks for reading.

Dr. Martin

Lucha de Probabilidades

APSCUF poster

Buenas Días,

I had an excellent day today in spite of the fact that I got to by office by 7:15 a.m. and it is 9:15 p.m. and I am still here. I do plan to leave shortly, though I might try to be back at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. While tomorrow is supposed to be a day where I am not on campus, I currently have 5 meetings, so I think I will be here for quite a while. Fortunately, they do not begin too early, though I do have a 7:30 meeting at the diner, so I will be up one way or the other. Today I went to my Spanish class and have gotten it scheduled so I can be there both class periods. It was really enjoyable, and while I felt a bit rusty on some things, other things I had learned on my own came back pretty quickly. What I noticed today is that when I was called on my pronunciation was pretty strong. That was a good feeling and I think someone, who regularly kicked me on some things, might have even been slightly impressed.

While I have been working on some important things and made some major life changes to manage some of those things, I have found out how fragile I am and how much I need to be really disciplined in what I am doing. My latest trip for testing revealed that the stress of the holidays and beyond, and the travel, probably did not serve me well. I think my failure to manage my diet as well as I had been doing also was a contributing factor. That being said, now I have to redouble my efforts. It is something I can do. I think we are always playing the odds on things. Sometimes intentionally and other times unaware. I am always stunned when I see people who really seem to take their fitness seriously and then I see them smoking cigarettes, for instance. It is times like that I realize that the addiction to nicotine must be exactly that. I cannot imagine that someone honestly wants to affect their body in such a negative way when working so hard in other ways to maintain or enhance it. Yet there are other ways I believe we harm ourselves because of the lifestyle we either feel compelled (perhaps almost in a VD way) to lead or because we merely do it without thinking. Because I started the semester in such a dismal condition, I have felt like I have been playing catch up from the outset of the semester. From more than a week before the semester began until late last week, the number of times I have been in bed before 9:00 p.m. is probably greater in that month than the entire previous year. It is what I had to do merely to maintain and make it through my classes.

Now I am working to catch up and get ahead of things. I actually feel like I have more on my plate right now than I did last spring when I was starting to prepare for tenure. That is a bit frightening and disconcerting. . . .  Welcome to Friday. I have been in front of people most of the day and it is Wisconsin cold out, so that is my day. I did not make it in here as early as I wanted, but I have been productive nonetheless. I have worked on tutoring an ESL student who works tremendously hard at learning and mastering English. It is actually fun to think about why things work they way they do. Today I got a picture (or actually a poster) that is being hung up around campus for the faculty union. It is the picture that you are seeing at the beginning of the post. It is a bit surreal, and it was also taken before I lost some significant weight, so I look like a fat toad, sad as that is.

I have been working on this post for a week and I’m still not done. I guess that explains how my week has gone. I am not sure the coming week or two will be any better. What I am realizing is that the odds I have been battling in more areas than most realize have taken their toll on me more than I wish to admit. While I have gotten things accomplished, the sum total have not been enough. I am reminded of one of my father’s saying, ” The faster I go, the behinder (sic) I get.” That seems to be the story of my life. However, some of it is of my own making, I am not merely a victim here. I am a bit frustrated with the insinuation, especially by one who should know better, that somehow we only work 17 hours (though it was noted as contracted) per week. I am reminded of another conversation in which it was noted that if we teach in the summer or do summer work related to publishing or other things, it was our choice. Again, it is my interpretation, there seemed to be no appreciation or belief that some of those decision felt more obligatory than optional because of things like tenure or promotion. I think of how sometimes it seems we are squeezed by both sides. The local paper, as they feel obliged to do yearly, printed all of our salaries in the local Sunday paper. Again with little explanation of how those salaries are determined or what work went into the degrees to earn those salaries. So now some people, as I expected, comment in the local paper that only our salaries are the reason for increased tuition. Then the administration notes we are contracted not even part time. So between the two extremes, it seems we are vilified. So I try to focus on two things: first, I hope to support my colleagues. Second, I work hard to support my students. Those are the two groups that really are affected by what I do or don’t do. I know when I hear something positive about my teaching that means more to me than just about anything. When I was awarded an outstanding teaching award at my previous institution that was probably one of the best things that happened in all six years. I know that the great majority of my colleagues work tremendously hard. Parece que estamos a menudo en combate contra las probabilidades o simplemente un siglo XXI versus de Sísifo.

Well, I think it is time to head to school. I have sat at the diner for more than an hour. Somehow I have again misplaced my office keys. I am not sure if I left them in my office on Friday or they are in my jacket at the dry cleaners. I did not hang them up and so I am afraid it will be a day or two yet again before they reappear, as magically as they disappeared. I have a great deal of grading to manage, but just keep plugging (all outside the 17 hours). Perhaps our Snyder Amendment papers need to go to more people on campus. I was looking back at my blog from a year ago. It is a bit boggling to see what was accomplished in the past year. The changes that occur are always merely part of our daily lives, but when you look back at them collectively, they seem so much more monumental. I have learned so much about myself during this year. I think it is that learning that helps me be more comfortable with the decisions I have made and where I am at this point. . . .

Good morning, it is yet another day and about 4:28 a.m. and I am still in my office. I will admit to an hour nap on my floor about 12:30, but otherwise I have been working steadily and getting things accomplished. It will be a long day as I have things pretty much straight through from 7:00-4:30 today, but I will make it through. I am actually feeling pretty reasonable at the moment. That is actually the reason I am typing on this and hoping to finally get it posted before the morning hits (or the normal morning). It is yet another case of understanding the obstacles to accomplishing what needs to be done. I always struggle with how much to respond to students’ work. I could merely put in grades, but that is not going to help their writing. There is so much more. I do have to figure something out, but I believe that the only way to become a better writer is to write. If I assign it then I need to look at it carefully and try to respond in a way that is effective for the student and yet efficient for me in the bigger picture. I am not sure I have ever learned how to do that. I am sure I am not the only English (or any language for that matter) professor who feels the pain of this dilemma. It is interesting how each step of the way, from graduate school to getting that position to getting tenure to . . .  you always think it has to be easier on the other side, and then you find out it is not really that much different. The papers are still there and they require as much work. I actually enjoy teaching composition and seeing the light actually go on. I love when a student who did not like writing suddenly decides it is not that horrific after all. I am excited when a student comes to the realization that writing has value. I feel accomplished when someone sees that the passion I have for what I do is actually inspiring and the result is their wanting to work more diligently. It is pretty simple to make me happy. Just do your work.

As we are into the fifth week of the semester already, I think I might be able for the first time to see that I can get on top of all the things that are out there. I might have to put in a couple more days like this one, but it will pay off. So in the meanwhile, I will keep working on all the things that are necessary for later in the day. I hope that wherever you are and from wherever you might be reading this that whatever odds you are facing, you know that the battle is worth it. There is so much that matters in the world in which we are living, working, and existing. In some ways it is always a gamble. With that thought in mind, I will leave you with one of my favorite artists (amazing that he has been gone for over 7 years). His narrative style and amazing instrumentals were something I so appreciated and still do. Thanks for listening to one of my favorite songs of Mr. Fogelberg. Ironic that I found it in two languages.

Thanks as always for reading.

Dr. Martin

Grace and Dignity on Either Side of the Tracks

cropped-img_0872.jpg

Good morning,

It is almost Wisconsin-cold here in the Upper Susquehanna Valley this morning, but it is still nonetheless manageable. I got up extremely early to deal with some issues and will be on the road again before the day is out. It is now Friday evening and I am back in Gettysburg. Driving about 500 miles today has taken it’s toll on me. Sometimes I’m rather astounded that I used to think road trips were fun. I did stop on the way back because I needed to take a break. I got something to eat and also took a nap at a rest stop. Some of the morning events reminded me of how little I know about some things. While I generally like to believe that I am someone well-informed that was not the case this morning.

As I observed and listened to what went on I realized how difficult things are for so many people. It forced me to reflect again on what I believe is the ever widening gap between those who have things and those who do not; the difference between those who worked hard to try to get something only to lose it and those who seem to get things with little or no work. It was actually part of the conversation I had this morning. Furthermore, and I should not be surprised, it is showing up in my little corner of the world as the university has decided to change how tuition will be charged and subsequently be collected. One can be sure that students were not included in the decision and, for the most part neither were faculty. What I understand is some were given the “opportunity” to attend a meeting on the Friday of Thanksgiving break. Otherwise, as a whole we were not given much notice either. From what we can tell the board of governors has decided that students can make up any budget shortfall. I could say much more about this decision and the process, but I will refrain, at least for the moment. At Bloomsburg this reduces the forecasted deficit, which seemed a bit sketchy to begin with from 1o million to about 3 million. I am waiting to get some final figures. What this will do to students, to programs, and to the state system does not appear to have been part of the decision-making process. The absurdity of it, at least at this moment, is beyond my comprehension. It will price many low income students and families out of the market, again widening the gap between those who can afford college and those who cannot.

The title of this blog posting is actually a quote from a story I heard this morning on NPR. It was a story about a children’s book and about a boy on a bus. The little boy with his Nanna lamented the things that he did not have, while his Nanna tried to help him focus more carefully on the things that he did have. I am generally not inclined to buy children’s books, but I might have to get this one. The author and illustrator, both Californians, wrote about things they experienced growing up. As I have noted in blogs past, I did not always have what I wanted but not once can I remember not having what I needed. I was actually very fortunate. As I consider the events of today, I am reminded about how decisions are made and so many people have little to no voice in those decisions. I know that I will be attending some meetings this week and into the semester. While I am not sure if anything can be done to reverse the university’s plan, I, for one, will go on the record to say it is unjust and not very well reasoned.

However, as I noted, I should not be surprised. Reflecting on some of the news stories over the last two weeks and the decision of the Koch brothers to spend almost one billion dollars on the next election, I need some assistance. Someone help me understand how that is democracy. Someone explain to me how buying an election creates trust in our system, in the people, or in the elected government. I cannot see it. It is manipulation. I cannot imagine the founders of this country believing that this would be what they hoped or believed could happen to their grand experiment. In fact, I heard the most fascinating address or lecture tonight about the state of politics in Pennsylvania. The bottom line in that address was basically that no one elected in the legislature needed anyone else nor did they feel beholden to them. Even though we were the only state to not re-elect an incumbent Republican governor, The election of Governor Wolfe was actually vote against the former Governor Tom Corbett and not vote for the Democrat. Our esteemed and knowledgeable speaker went on to note that the legislature is both the most Republican and polarized it has been in the last half century. It was actually a very fascinating and frightening address. Perhaps the last important point that directly affects those of us in higher education is that while the electorate wants something done to fund education that is mostly at the K-12 level. The entire thing was quite depressing when I think about it carefully.

That actually brings brings me to my point or focus in this post. A few years ago there was a somewhat vocal, but short-lived group of protests against the so-called one-percent-ers. While the initial argument was against so few having so much wealth, the protests were not focused entirely on that and too many others, in my opinion, jumped on the proverbial bandwagon; the consequence ended up with the initial message about unfairness or injustice becoming diluted. As the one-percenters unabashedly try to buy the next election, as a board of governors decides to put a burden, one created by an ex-governor, who took $90 million from higher education during his four years ~ something supported by the legislature ~  on the backs of students, the opportunity for many students to be educated within the Commonwealth becomes more unobtainable because of rising costs. The plethora of other consequences or fall-out from this decision is exponentially troubling, but I will leave that for another time. While there are certainly cases of the stereotypic millennial entitlement, there are many other students who work so desperately hard to take advantage of the opportunity to be educated. I know this to be the truth because I see it daily. In spite of the debt they must take on to receive an undergraduate education, many students work hard both in their classes and in extracurricular jobs, hoping to eventually graduate and make a difference in their lives. I think of some students I know quite well, ones who are prime examples of this. Paying meticulous attention to everything that concerns their education and working tremendously hard with such myopic focus, they actually miss some things they should not. However, I’m not sure it is possible to see the consequence of those actions at times. Even though I have felt the sequela of that perceived demand, and its aftermath, I guess if I step back, just maybe, I can understand why. Perhaps the sophistic elegance and grace used at times is more necessary than I’ve been willing to realize. I still don’t like it, but perhaps, at moments, I can at least comprehend it’s necessity.

While I am certainly not extraordinarily wealthy, I have to admit that I have a few worries. I have worked hard with 14 years in college, but I’ve also been fortunate. Without the care of many over the years, I would not be where I am. What I’ve tried to do is to give to others and return the good fortune that I have been blessed to receive. I grew up in a part of town or we were called river rats. It was a blue-collar and and certainly one of the poor sections of town. As I previously noted there were times growing up but I’m sure my parents struggle mightily to even give us necessities. But the people on my block and in my neighborhood worked hard. They asked for little, if anything, and they live their lives with grace and dignity. There is the saying about growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. I’m not sure I was on the wrong side, but, on the other hand, I’m not sure I was on the right side. Maybe I grew up actually on the tracks . What I am realizing is maybe it was to being on the tracks that forced me to keep moving. Because logically, if one stays in that place, the outcome would be to get run over, not a particularly wise not pleasant outcome.

When I realize that we all have our story, and no two are the same, I’m compelled to believe that each story has value. To fail to believe in the value of the other is to lose sight of the founding principles of democracy. When we fail to treat others with grace and dignity, we fail them, but more significantly we fail ourselves. This past week, in my Foundations class, we spoke about the value of each person’s language and what they bring to class. We talked about the difference between standard and nonstandard language. The language someone brings with them helps them understand who they are. It creates an identity. One of the many things that I am tasked to do is to move that language into academe. To help the student claim his or her place as someone hoping to become a scholar. Sometimes that’s a tall order. But more importantly I can only assist I cannot make someone do it. I know this from my own experience. I’ve also watched someone over the past year work tremendously hard to overcome previous choices. It is something they have done on their own. Most of the time, it has been a joy to watch.

Perhaps it’s because I still feel I am on the tracks at times that I work so hard to help others move from one place to the next. Well I’m not sure that I do it with all that much grace I do try to do it with dignity. That is all I can do. So it is almost 4:00 a.m. Perhaps I can go back to sleep. . . . I did sleep, but as is often the case I needed to go back, edit, proofread and then work on this some more. I am always amazed by what I find in my writing, especially when it is done at some early hour of the morning. What I see, not surprisingly, is even at that time, my brain goes faster than either my voice or my fingers. I miss things. I make illogical jumps. It is now Monday and I am facing student conferences, grading, revisions, and other things. Then there is the life outside of here that always seems to disappear. It is time to get organized yet again. So I am off to do just that.
As always thank you for reading.

Dr. Martin

Kairotic Moments – Rhetorical or Fateful?

Lydia_posed_3 sized

Good late evening or early morning,

It is 11:38 p.m.,; so while it is technical a very late “good evening”, I am asserting for me it is very early morning. That is because I just woke up, after going to bed, for probably the 15th time in the last month, before 8:30 in the evening. My Tuesday began before 6:00 a.m., trying to do some additional snow blowing, before my day got off to a real start. My first meeting was at seven in the morning and I did not get home until after seven in the evening. The amount of time that I had in between as simple downtime was a grand total of zero. So when I walked into my house, I prepared and ate some of the “limited editions” in my fridge, brushed my teeth, and then I went to bed. My brain was mush and my body was exhausted. Only difficulty is, as I look at my calendar the rest of the week is exactly the same. If I have some time, even a few moments, I’m trying to do whatever grading I can to keep up with what’s coming in. Logistically I’m waiting on two items for to my students, but until I get those I can’t move forward on some other things. I am continually reminded that I do not live in a vacuum. My life seems forever dependent on what others do and I am forced to admit what time is my life seems totally deterministic. How Dr. Clifford Hansen, my first philosophy professor, must be smiling from wherever he is to hear me make such a statement. Any of my Dana College classmates who might read this, know what I mean. I remember how vehemently I argued against any thought of determinism in that class. It was simply illogical to the small town Iowa boy.

This gets me to my topic or my title for this post. From time to time one is forced to ask how did I get here? How in the world on God’s green earth did I ever make it along the continuum where I was to where I am? One might argue that is simply wisdom, The sum total of our experiences and, at least, what one might hope is a bit of wisdom. Yet at this point in my life I’m inclined to believe that’s too easy. More importantly I think it gives us too much credit as individuals. At least in my case, I’m much too stubborn and I am not that brilliant. For the most part I just go about my life. Because it’s after midnight now, the day before yesterday we had the first snow day of the winter or the semester. A year ago almost to the day there was another snow day, actually a year ago tomorrow. At this point I see it as a fateful day ~ not meant negatively ~ as a kairotic moment. A point in my life on the decision to go to dinner with some others on a snowy evening changed my life. The four other persons involved in that day have all scattered, or floated away, sort of like the leaf floating at the end of the movie Forrest Gump. To my knowledge one of them is no longer in school at all; one is attending community college and working; one has transferred to another institution; and the fourth one while still in school here at Bloom, works much like the wind in the New Testament, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8a). What I know is I’m grateful for that day, not only for the experiences that have occurred since, but more importantly for how it is changed who I am. One one hand, I know that my joys of the more joyful and on the other, some of the moments have caused more pain than I knew it was possible for me to bear. I regret none of it. This is not to say that I have some secret desire to feel pain. That would indicate I have yet another malady. What it states, actually, is that I loved that deeply. Yet all of that is an aside to what I am thinking about. How do these particular moments, these life-changing moments, happen? Are they actually special or did something specific, something monumental, occur? If it is something special, something monumental, what is it? Because if it’s not, then every moment is special, different, or extraordinary. Or perhaps it is that every moment has the potential for such. Still raises the question of what causes these particular instances? If one argues from a religious perspective we get those amazing sentences like “it was just God’s will.” Again, where I’m at in my life now, even that sounds deterministic. And I’m not sure I like the cliché “everything happens for reason.” Such a simple way to allow for things. Again we’re simply the cork floating along in the ocean and the bottle in which we were placed as well as the message that was in the bottle are lost. Perhaps some humor in this is that I am still considering corks and bottles. Amazing how my mind works at 12:45 in the morning. The other thing that happens at 12:45 in the morning is that I can lose some of the work I have done, and now I have done it twice, losing what I have worked on for 45 minutes.

When pondering these specific moments I wonder if there is some sort of divine intervention that minimizes how often they happen. To be kind to God, not the God needs my kindness, perhaps God knows our limitations and keeps these amazing moments spaced out in such a way that we are able to manage them. If I leave God out of the equation, perhaps these moments of completed action with present consequence, these times of punctiliar profundity, are limited because our human capacity for understanding is simply that: limited. During the past day, I certainly had one of those punctiliar moments. Yesterday as I sat in the departmental curriculum committee meeting, considering the new concentration in digital rhetoric and professional writing, it became abundantly clear to me what I had learned as a faculty person at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Little did I realize the lessons learned in that program would serve me so well half-way across the country. Five and a half years of working, observing, and listening prepared me for this meeting. But this is not something that I have accomplished on my own; indeed, far from it. The English Department at Bloomsburg University is a dedicated group of amazing professors and outstanding scholars. This is not typical at a comprehensive 4/4 institution. Yet, the insight of both the initial committee as well as the vision of the department and the revision of their liberal arts concentration, created a change that supported the possibility of creating this new concentration out of a minor. I was reminded during that meeting, and quite appropriately I must admit, that the department had also changed in that time period. Two years ago what might be called an initial failure was an important learning moment for me. I needed to learn, to listen; I needed to comprehend and understand; I needed to step back and wait. I must admit waiting for me is not a strong point, but learning, understanding, and waiting were all necessary. Perhaps that was my most important, non-durative moment.

When I consider the last month, the number of moments I’ve had caused me pause are quite astounding, both because of the number and because of the experience itself. From waiting at the bedside of Lydia, through my tears and laughter, I came face-to-face with beauty personified. The grip she had on my hand and the look in her eyes and those last days will stay with me for the remainder of my days. The care of the staff for both her and me, for both their tears and laughter, have blessed me beyond words. The people who have reached out to me since then, as well as those who have failed to do so, have taught me much, both about myself and about others. The trip to Poland and the beauty of that place, that country, still amazes me. My visit to Auschwitz, both the weather and the place that day, will remain with me forever. I’m sure the timing, only hours after Lydia’s passing, creates an important contextual situation. Coming back from Europe and being almost immediately ill is not something I will soon forget. Over the weekend I was speaking with my long-time friend; I call her my sandbox buddy and she refers to me with the same term. As she does, typically, she lamented the fact that she doesn’t get certain things done. After hearing the same story for the past six months, I noted for her with as much care as I could muster, “if it is important enough, you will do it.” It is simply a matter of priorities. It is a matter of discipline. Ultimately it says what is substantive to us at that point in time. Even in my own life what has come to the fore now and where it was at another point in time is different. Sometimes that is due to necessity. Sometimes it’s in response to what has been done to us. Ultimately again, it just is. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned this past year is to not hold onto things. For it is when we hold on it we will surely lose them. I think of how hard and desperately you, Lydia, held onto my hands those last days. It was incredibly hard for either one of us to let go. However, it was what we were required to do. My letting go that Friday night was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but it allowed Nate, Theresa, and the girls to come and take their turns to hold your hand. It allowed for your hand to be held at the precise moment you left this earth.

Lydia, there has not been a single day that I have not thought about you since you left. I don’t think that will change for sometime. I know that coming into your life was unexpected for both you and me. Yet, it was one of those moments for which I will be forever grateful. The power you have, even beyond life, to affect life is quite astounding. In my own piety I believe you now see me all the time. It is a bit frightening. I hope you can still love me,even in my failing moments. I hope you know how much I love you. I miss you greatly and I love you even more. As it is now almost 2:40 a.m. and I am in tears yet again, I will close.

To everyone else, thank you for reading.

Dr. M (as someone recently called me)

Seasons Continued (pun intended)

IMG_0872

Hello at 12 :50 a.m.,

I am awake probably because I went to bed at 8:40 last evening. I read blogs and commented for a while, but I hit a wall and decided to sleep. I have set the alarm for 5:00, but today looks like a bit of a blur, and my brain is racing, so I will write for a while and see if I can fall back to sleep. One of thing I have noticed since my last trip to the ER after a coughing sleep week before last is my eyes are struggling to focus and see as clearly as they were before that episode. Frustrating and perhaps it is time to get to an optometrist. I guess I will have to make time for some more appointments. Next week it is time for my 3 month check up also. Always something to manage. ” It is the life.” In the words of Sr. Galán.

In my last blog began to speak about seasons and how seasons might be used as a metaphor for my life. If you read that blog you know I spoke most about spring and then finished up with some words about summer. I have pondered the summer idea since then and I still believe that the happiest time of my life was when I was three or four years old. What made it so? I think it was that time in my life when I knew I was truly loved. My grandmother, of whom I have spoken before, was my mother at that point in time. My sister and I were no longer living with our parents for variety of reasons, primarily neglect. And while I have never really remembered that time in my life, I remember vividly living at my grandparents house. What I know now is that, in spite of my grandmother’s issues she loved me with her whole heart. She loved me unconditionally and she loved me for the remainder of her days on this earth. Unfortunately, I think it was a love that I took for granted all too often. Part of that was immaturity; part of that was selfishness; perhaps, most accurately, it was youthful stupidity She passed away shortly after my 22nd birthday. I think I have noted before that there were mannerisms that were replicated by Lydia. Maybe that’s why she found her way into my heart in a way that few ever have. Maybe the first two years I was living next-door to Lydia might be the other summer in my life. Things at Stout were going seemingly well, and I so loved the little house in which I lived. Living between the Lacksonens and Lydia was an ideal situation. Indeed, it was a time that I was more than content, I was happy. I enjoyed my job; I felt valued at that point. I actually loved cooking breakfast for Lydia every morning and sitting down to a glass of sherry in the evening before I would go back to my house to sleep. The little house was a wonderful habitat.The other thing that I’ve realized about myself is this. While I give my love to others quite freely, there are very few people in my life that I have loved deeply and completely. The first is my grandmother. The second was probably Theresa, my second wife. The third would be Lydia. While there is a fourth possibility, the jury is still out on that situation.

So how would I understand the fall of my life? First, I must admit that autumn is perhaps my favorite season. The majestic tapestry of colors makes it hard to doubt the existence of a creator. The crisp invigorating mornings followed by the warm hazy afternoons, for me, provide the best of both worlds. Perhaps my love affair with the fall is also related to the return of a new school year with new academic possibilities. I guess what I’m realizing is that I connect the fall and the spring because of their common connection to a time of learning. Some of my favorite falls include the first fall I was in college at Iowa State University. I was excited by the town, by the classes and I remember walking from the towers to campus. 30,000 students in town made for endless possibilities. I remember a girl that I met her name was Barb. She was smart and beautiful. Ironically, I would reacquaint with her six years later at the University of Iowa. She is still a person whom I appreciate and admire. Another fall that I remember was probably my first year at Luther seminary the fall of 1983. Perhaps it was an important fall because it was the last time I was well. Or at least perceived that I was well. It would be that coming winter when I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I had spent the entire previous summer crashing Greek, cramming two years of classes into 12 weeks. I was living in the dorm, a place we referred to finally as Bock-person Hall. I was the head resident of that dorm. A much different job than being such a person in an undergraduate dorm. Those persons with whom I had done summer Greek became my closest friends. Such an amazing group of people, good and brilliant. I loved the St. Anthony Park area where the seminary was located, the old houses, the huge old trees, and the crisp and clean Minnesota air. In the six years I have been back in Pennsylvania, I think there has been the potential for such falls, but I’m not sure that I’ve had such a memorable autumn experience yet. Ironically I might have the most ideal setting ever. I work on an amazing campus that looks out of the mountains and that majestic tapestry of which I wrote has never been more apparent. The same goes for where I live. Sitting either on the patio or on my front porch, I can look out and I’m always amazed at the wonder of the world in which I live. Perhaps it is because I live alone. Perhaps it’s because I feel I have no one with whom to share this. However before you think I’m sounding desperate, just don’t because I’m not.

Perhaps the fall metaphor, is the most appropriate for me at this point. The majestic tapestry of which I’ve spoken reminds us through its colors the plants in this creation have reached their peak and provide for us unparalleled beauty. Indeed the combination of sun rain and carbon dioxide create something that we as humans are incapable of doing. And yet the peak season of color is fleeting. As I’ve driven across interstate 80 through the valleys in the mountains of this upper Susquehanna area, I’m continually astonished at how quickly, sometimes within 24 hours, things change. Yet, that seems to be how my life has gone, particularly this past year. If there’s ever been a year that epitomized the Tale of Two Cities, 2014 was that year. It was the year to expect the unexpected. It was the year that I could not have predicted no matter how good my crystal ball might’ve been. Some of the successes were significant. Some of the changes profound. If you have read my blog with any consistency, you’re well aware that some of the most precious things that I had are gone, or changed. Much like the colors of the fall the year reminded me that there is nothing permanent, everything is fleeting. Such a statement might sound cynical, but I do not mean it to be such.

So where am I? If I am correct, and seasons are not chronological, where do I honestly believe I am? In which season do I reside at the present? If I look outside my window there is little doubt that I am in the winter. I have spent three of the last four mornings with the snow blower; there can be little doubt that it is January and I live somewhere where snow is at least a semi-common occurrence. I do not mind the snow and, in fact, I rather enjoy it. I enjoy it for its beauty and serenity, and I enjoy it for its solitude. I enjoy it for the starkness, perhaps for even the harsh reality it brings to our existence. It is with a certain sense of gratitude that I ponder is pureness and its simple beauty. Take the time some late night or early morning to look out at the freshly fallen snow in the moonlight. I learned to do this in the Upper Peninsula when I was in graduate school. An average of 270 inches of snow each winter made it a little difficult to not come face-to-face with the stark reality of winter. I remember when I first moved there and someone asked me if I liked snow. I responded in the affirmative. And they repeated, “No, do you LIKE snow?” What I realized was if you didn’t like it or learn to like it you would not survive. The pristine beauty of the Keweenaw Peninsula in winter is unparalleled. And Lake Superior provides two things: a boat-load (a really large boat) of snow and actually moderate temperatures. However, for most of us, winter reminds us of the death of anything’s plants, buildings, and, yes, even people. If the metaphor is to continue does winter mean death in my understanding of the seasons? To say so seems rather cliché, and I don’t particularly like clichés. Perhaps rather than death, it might be reasonable to see winter from his actual dates 21 December for the 21st or 22nd of March. Winter moves us from one calendar year to the next, from an ending to a beginning. In my previous life is a pastor I’m reminded of the words that occur in the committal service spoken over an open grave. “This is the gate to eternal life”. It is only in our ending, that we have any hope for a new beginning. I’ve experienced those new beginnings throughout my life because of changes, moves, and new opportunities. Those times were winters, if you will. But somehow this time winter seems different, it seems more permanent. But I’m okay with that. Perhaps I am in the winter. I refuse to fear it; instead I will embrace it. I will embrace it for its beauty or the preparation it allows me. There’s no need for angst or desperation. I’m reminded of the words of Paul. And yet in the fullness of time, it came to me the least of all. I have things yet to do and I will embrace those opportunities as I always have. I will work to make sure that I complete the things to which I am obligated, to keep my word to those people to whom I’ve made promises. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to experience the four seasons both literally and virtually. Indeed I have been blessed.

As always thank you for reading. It’s now 2:30 in the morning. I believe I can go to sleep. I should note it is the next day and when I wrote this (actually spoke it), I found there were many more issues with it than I could have anticipated. I think I have edited out most of the issues. Thanks for bearing with me.

Dr. Martin

Seasons

bucket list

Good early morning,

I am finally making some notable progress against this pneumonia, but I think I have been In bed more hours in the last two weeks than I have usually been in six. I was in bed before 9:00 p.m. Last night. While I have been productive during the days, there is more to do than the hours I have been awake, so if you think about that I am working my way backwards. That is a problem. The weekend will require some significant work. My niece will be here this weekend and I am looking forward to seeing her. I have not seen her since last Spring. Even though we speak regularly, it is a long way back to Iowa.

If you live in Bloomsburg, you might think my blog title is referring to a restaurant here in town. While I appreciate that establishment a great deal, it is not the topic or focus of my blog. I will put in an unabashed plug for this restaurant gastronomique. Others might think I am referring to Antonio Vivaldi’s amazingly well-known, and, in my opinion, over-played composition, which is actually titled le Quattro staglioni.. While this might be actually closer, it again is not really what I am rying to strictly consider as I write this blog. And, btw, if you want to cosines some different musical compositions that are more than concertos, not to take away from Vivaldi, look up Fresh Aire I-IV by Mannheim Steamroller for another take on the quadratic divi on of our calendar year. Most of you know their Christmas music, but this precedes it. In fact, I am listening to the second album (download) about Spring as I write this. The metaphor of seasons and understanding or illustrating our lives is quite common, and that is more what I have been thinking about this past few weeks. Again, knowing that I have been working with requirements of being the trustee for Lydia might provide some context, and rightly so, but I think it is my own life and reflection upon that life that is more the impetus for this posting. It is the fact that my best friend in life is now in a care facility suffering the devastation of ALS and I am here and can do little to help or visit him that is hurting me profoundly. It is perhaps that I have another set of freshmen who have barely begun their lives and I know that I have lived most of mine. I know that I have worked against odds to make it this far, and while I plan to go father yet, there are things that want to keep that from happening. It does not really sadden me, but it does make me wonder how best to use this period of time, this final season if you will.

If I would try to imagine my life as those four seasons, how might I show the parallels? Where are those divisions and why do I see them as I do? Is each season the same length, as a normal yearly cycle we follow or do they vary? What are the significant moments or events within those seasons? Those are all Fragen daran zu denken . However, it is almost 5:00, so there other priorities for me, and it is time to rise and shine, or, at least rise.
. . . As is often the case, the week got away from me and other priorities with the first week of classes came to the fore. So it is almost midnight on Friday and my niece, Jennifer, just arrived and she will be here until Sunday sometime. It is good to see her. I have not been able to get together since she was in Bloomsburg last Spring around the end of March. I am not sure what all we will do tomorrow, but it is wonderful to have her here.

So what happened or when was there a time that I would consider there a
springtime in my life, that place or time of growth, of hope, of believing the best was yet to come? What I am realizing as I start to ponder this, it is likely that neither my life can be seen in an orderly manner nor would my seasons follow the expected chronological pattern. For instance, you might consider the spring to be the time when you were younger, when things are or were, new, things are, or were, changing, when there’s wonderment about what you are and where you will or would go. I’m not sure I had such a time throwing up. At least I don’t remember feeling that way at any time as a child. I think that time for me might’ve been when I was in college, at Dana College. I was 24 years old shortly after arriving in Blair. Granted there were times growing up but I had that wonderment. As I noted in previous blogs,, Christmas times at my grandma’s house; or times on my great aunt’s farm. If I use the concept of being amazed the idea of extreme wonderment, I imagine the time that I was in the Marine Corps might be such a time. Was for me wide-eyed and gently boggled by everything that occurred around me. And without a doubt, it was one of the times in my life I grew the most. Yet, looking back, I don’t remember it as a time of time of happiness or a time where I felt good about myself. Again there were moments but I felt those things, but nothing sustained. As I ponder all of this what I realize are the times that I was most happy were the times I was learning something. I imagine that’s why am happy even now. Though I must admit some of the learning is now more difficult or more significant. Some of the most significant learning has actually been outside the classroom. I don’t believe that’s a bad thing. Maybe it’s reasonable to ask when was my most significant learning moment. Within the realm of school I believe it was the first time I went to Europe. Outside of school I think it’s actually been that during the last year. Simply put I guess spring time for me is the time of growth, both growth in my mind and growth in who I am as a person.

How might I describe the season of summer and when did that season occur in my life? As the next thing for me to ponder, when did I feel the warmth of the summer, a sort of caliente capable of radiance through your entire being; creating a warmth than affects your very soul? Has I wonder about this the only time I can think I felt such warmth and happiness was as a small child with my grandparents. I remember laying in the yard in the grass on a summer day and gazing out the sky, pondering the art and the figures in the clouds. I remember once gazing a crossed and I could see what we’re grain elevators. I didn’t know that’s what they were and I thought I was gazing at heaven. I was so happy and content. I liked where I lived; I knew I liked that I was loved. I believed life was wonderful. What I know now that would last much longer and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that since. On one level, that’s an incredibly sad statement. On another level, I think it addresses the actual complexity of what it means to be truly happy. I do believe there are times of my life where I’ve been content. In fact, I would say now is one of those times. I am content because I have everything I need and certainly most anything I have wanted. Yet none of that really makes me happy. For me, happiness goes beyond contentment. That statement is probably worth an entry on its own.

I think for the time being I will just continue to ponder. I will say something about the two additional seasons in my next post. However most of the rest of the day I should do it work on school things and be prepared for the coming week. I owe that to myself; I owe that to my students. Perhaps a century will make you ponder your own life and those times or seasons when you felt the best? What where the contributing factors to those seasons of growth? those seasons of happiness?

As always thank you for reading. I hope you have a great week.

Dr. Martin