Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers' Day (not for everybody), Optimism (for the over-thinker)

Happy Mothers' Day!

Chip: Visiting me at my desk.
To all who provide mothering!

Not all mothering comes from biological mothers, and not all biological mothers provide good mothering. It's not even gender specific: I was a Mr. Mom for a couple of years after my first wife's death. I mothered (and fathered).

This week at school, a fellow teacher called and asked if I could host a boy in my class for 45 minutes or so. He had been removed from his home due to extremely poor mothering. He really didn't want to make a Mothers' Day card along with the class. Kudos to this teacher for being aware, and for giving the boy an option. This teacher knew some of my story, and knew I would understand and provide a safe, warm place... away from the majority, who, rightfully so, love their mothers. Regardless of the day being celebrated, mindful souls know that others may have good reason why they don't enjoy or even like a certain holiday. School mimics life in that regard. We are a multiculturalistic society, with majorities and minorities of every shape and hue. Even on Mothers' Day.

* * * * *

Optimism: Can it be recovered and cultivated? 

A month ago I read a post written by a very bright junior or senior in high school who was feeling blue. Some of her dreams were being reality checked as she got closer to college and adulthood was coming into closer view.

Been there. Disillusionment is a tough row to hoe.

So I wrote her a poem. A poem for those who are at a point of personal despair: great or small, or somewhere in-between. Especially for those who think a lot. Depth of mind can sometimes drowned optimism and hope.

I give you:

I  Wonder If
(for We_the_pieces)

I wonder if hopelessness is an affliction caught by those who think too much?
Chip: Investigating a bug sighting.

I remember considering the quote,
"This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel,"
and thinking,
"No, it's a tragic comedy to those who do either."

I remember sitting in my room alone,
listening to the mournful singing of Neil Young's
"Everybody Knows This is Nowhere."

I remember sitting in a church,
thinking about the fruitlessness of living.

But somewhere along the line...
Maybe it was Harold and Maude?
Maybe it was Cat Stevens' song:
If you want to sing out, sing out...

I don't know how, but...
I recovered my optimism.

Chip: Checking out Heidi, the dog.
And, I decided to cultivate it.

Perhaps hopelessness and giving up is like the flu
caught by young thinkers, who...
when mental health returns...
decide to live life with an informed naivety.

The Dreamer returns...
but now she knows some of the science of navigation.

The Dreamer returns...
but knows something of pace, goals, possibilities,
and boundaries.

I wonder if...
in the life of a thinker...
there are tides,
and turning points.
I spy: The Haan family (6 strong)

I wonder if...
health of mind is as much a game of fitness
as health of body.

Do you wonder
if you think too much?

I don't.
I. am. a. thinker.

And I like it that way.


  1. What a thoughtful post (and like you I'm delighted at the teacher's awareness). Great poem. I can not only relate to it now but can imagine how I would have felt about it as a thinking teenager.

    1. @Scriptor: Glad you enjoyed the post and the poem. Think on! (And cultivate that informed optimism.) ;-)

  2. I remember when we started using cursive writing and Mrs, Searles noticed that I suddenly stopped turning in completed work. She talked to be after class and suggested I was thinking too much about my penmenship. She advised me to stop doing that. About the same time I remember looking at a bunch of kids who had just come in from recess and were standing together at the back of the class talking and laughing, and I "thought": "They are just doing that and they aren't even thinking about what they're doing." I couldn't understand how that was possible, but I saw it being done then, and many, many time thereafter. I have given a lot of thought to thinking.

    1. @Dennis: I remember when I decided that most of the time, most people, just say what they mean and mean what they say. If I think they're not... I can just ask. It helped me escape one maze of over-thinking (a mental loop). Think about thinking about that. ;-) (I also read a book called "Be Here Now." A yogi or something like that wrote it. It was helpful as well. I had one kid who put a dot between every word. Several years later, I caught up with the student. He told me, "I didn't put a dot there. I just rested my pencil while I was thinking about the next word. Painful. slow. writing. (But well thought out.) ;-)

  3. @Don: I think I know what you mean. ;-) But so much goes wrong when people just say what they mean or think. Maybe that is because they are not humble and charitable enough to repent and apologize afterwards. And then important things aften require disciplined thought and resolve. at least you have a sort of dual operation for a while between a current slovenly self and a "sanctified" self (Christ in us the hope of glory?). Surely your new life as a runner is an example of this.

  4. @Don: The funny thing about writing is that, last Saturday, I wrote my uncommonly brief sermon in about four hours, but there was one sentence toward the beginning that took me a half hour of that time to finish. It was kind of key to visualizing myself and my congregations within the scripture I was preaching on.