Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Sat 1/4/2003 6:57 AM
Random Thought: Suns and Dots

A belated Happy New Year to "ya'll." It's another high 20's "brrrrrr" south Georgia morning. A thin film of frost covered everything like a delicate veil of shimmering lace. Those winged hyperdermic needles we call mosquitoes were grounded by the ice on their wings. I walked through the tundra this morning with frozen, bleary-eyes. Didn't get all that much sleep. It was that exciting Miami-Ohio State game that kept me up late into the night.

Anyway, a belated Happy New Year to "ya'll." I don't know about you, but I am just about holidazed by the slate of holidays and bowled over by the spate of bowl games. And the pros are just starting their four week trek to the Super Bowl! My angelic Susan is not a happy camper on the weekends at this time of the new year.

Nevertheless, I'm still in a ringing in and ringing out reflective mood trying to see what the old and new rings look like. It's useful, maybe essential, for me to reflect on and evaluate myself. I do it every day rather than merely once a year. I've discovered that if I don't stay on top of things each day, things we get the best of me. I won't be able to offer the best of me and it won't be long before I'll be at the bottom. To purposefully decide, then, what is going well and what is not, what is worthwhile and what is not, what helps and what doesn't, what adds value and what doesn't, what to keep and what to modify and what to throw away is a critical exercise in self-correction, self-improvement, and self-affirmation. It's important to cut loose the dead weight and haul out the emotional trash to the curb.

So, as I cut across my memories and take a long, hard look at who I am and where I am and where I would like to go, I began thinking about something I read during the reading marathon with which I ended this past year. Picasso said that a mere painter matter-of-factly takes the magnificent sun and dolefully reduces it to a mere, lifeless yellow dot. A master artist excitedly takes a mere, lifeless yellow dot and joyfully transforms it into a living, magnificent sun.

Not much different with teaching, is it. I realize that the meaningful teachers are the master artists. It is they who are worth writing about. It not the "dotters." After all, vital persons vitalize. And, vitalize the meaningful teachers do. They read the Confusian message to always have a reverence for each person; they acknowledge it, recognize it, focus in on it, cultivate it, live it, get going with it; they give themselves to something larger than themselves; they give their lives over to others; they teach with their hearts wide open to others in compassion; they aspire to inspire the realization of possibility; they grab others inside; they give themselves to the future; they touch eternity; they engage in no less than heroic deeds; they help others leave a condition of dependence to discover a richer condition of independence; they alter lives and make a difference. I would go so far to say the meaningful teachers' moral objective is to save people. I would go still farther and say, in the spirit of Joseph Campbell, they are heroic.

So, each day I have to keep in mind what it is I want to say on December 31, 2003. I want to say that when I entered the classroom each day this year, I settled even less than I have done to being a mere painter of dots and struggled even more than I have done to give it everything that was given me to give and do whatever it took to be a master artist of suns.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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