Copyright © 1997, Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Wed, 1 Jan 1997 06:36:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Random Thought: Wonder and Hope

Well, I got up early this morning bright-eyed an bushy tailed even though it was only five hours into the new year. I put on my walking grubbies, opened the door and got hit by a blast of hot hair. My first walk of the new year and it was warm as hades. I can walk because I don't do up New Year's eve, had a quiet dinner with some close friends, toasted the new year with a glass of wine and kisses, and hit the sack. So, this morning I'm rested and don't have to fight any blurry-eyed, headachy mornings after the night befores.
As I sweated along the January street as if it was July, I was thinking about the traditional salute: "ring out the old, bring in the new." What does that mean for me as a person and especially as a teacher. I think it means simply all things change, that I have to change or atrophy, and that teaching follows life.
I think I have a teacher's eye, that is, a unique perception, sensitivity, love of people, vision, creativity, imagination. I have a sense of mission, a dedication, a commitment, a persistence. I have a faith that my efforts will bear fruit on most trees, if not today somehow in some manner weeks, months, or even years later. But, I don't think that is enough. It's not enough to want to keep being a good, effective teacher; I must want to become a better, more effective teacher. I have a courage, perhaps a brash courage, to devote myself to my art, to publicly express the emotions of my inner self, to stake my existence and my sense of being on my talents, and above all not to rest on my laurels and past accomplishments, but to risk: to risk moving on, to risks new things, to risk stretching the possibilities, to risk not always succeeding, to risk doing all that out in the open.
Maybe it's that audaciousness that separates the artists from the pretenders, the masters from the journeymen, the craftsmen from the technicians. If I want to remain in prime time, if I want to remain alive, if I want to remain vital, if I want to remain happy, if I want to remain excited, if I want to remain on top of the world, I have to change and let nothing become routine. If I want to remain awake, I can never believe that I can teach in my sleep. I have to work hard and never let believe that it gets easier. If I want to stay wound up, I can't let myself coast or wind down. I can't merely drift with the current of inevitable change around me, but must bask in that change and seize opportunities for the sake of my growth and development. I can't continue to believe exactly what I have always believed, feel exactly what I have always felt, thought exactly what I have always thought, do exactly what I have always done. I have to search for new approaches, experiment with new techniques and methods, make new mistakes, throw things out, leave things out, introduce things, freshen up the tried and true, start fresh. I have to share with you and the students my enthusiasm, excitement, ideas, experiences, foul-ups, achievements, and my willingness to try new things. I have to continue to look for, discover, and bring out what■s yet inside me. No, I should be strung up if I ever just hang around complacently saying that I've got the hang of it. If I can pull that off, nothing will wilt and yellow. I won't need a front-porch rocking chair or cane or walker as long as I keep my spirit limber by uncovering new mediums, styles and methods of expression; as long as I am intoxicated with people; as long as I move to higher plateaus in how I feel, think, and do; as long as I am always hungry and I never feel completely fulfilled and continue to move towards fulfillment; as long as I accept the truth that nobody reaches their full potential and nobody exhausts all their resources.
And so, for the coming year, I have no resolution. I have just a wonder and a hope. I wonder what there is still within me waiting to be brought out and hope that I will have the courage to either bring it out or let it be brought out.
I and my family would like to wish you and yours a happy and straight journey for the new year.

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
Department of History                      /~\    /\ /\
Valdosta State University          /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
Valdosta, Georgia 31698           /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
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                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
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