Posted by: David McKay | August 31, 2014

Teaching.

Teaching is not an easy profession. There are things to consider. Many things. I will make you a list:

Writing lists.

Learning how to write a list.

Why you should write lists.

Water.

Chairs and desks.

Meetings.

Scheduling meetings.

Agreeing to meetings, even when all you really want to do is have some time to yourself in your classroom so you can make lists.

Setting the alarm clock.

Double-checking that you set the alarm clock.

Wondering if “double-checking” should have a dash in it, and then taking the time to double-check that.

How to get someone else, who is only 11, to double-check.

Pencils.

Paper.

Clipboards.

What’s for lunch?

Management.

Creating.

Looking someone in the eye when you shake their hand.

Smiling. Definitely a lot of smiling.

Channeling energy.

Wondering how much to tell them, how much to show them, and hoping you get it right.

Living in the present, considering the past, and looking to the future.

Being calculatingly spontaneous.

Supplying the knowledge, so that it may be used.

Supplying it in such a way, that it must be used.

Learning.

Thinking.

Edit.

Revise.

Reread.

Edit.

Revise.

Reread.

Publish.

It’s important to know who you are, if you are going to try to help someone else learn who they are.

My last post from May, 2014: http://beyondplastic.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/one-from-the-archives-for-my-family/

And my first one from March, 2010: http://beyondplastic.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/think-about-it/

One more thing to add to the list:

Details. The life of an eleven-year old child is made up of details. So is mine. And yours.

Maybe the question is: Are you thinking about the details?

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.

Love.

Posted by: David McKay | May 16, 2014

One From the Archives: For My Family

I am staying in Central New York for the week – where I grew up – in the land of the Onondaga Nation. I went to the Onondaga Nation a few days ago and spoke with an elder about my worries and the troubles I have had recently. We didn’t know each other, but there was within me a need to seek out someone who could understand what I was looking for. I told him that I needed a place to go, to sit, and to feel the world around me. He sent me up the road to an old quarry that he used for such a purpose. I am grateful to him for that moment I found there.

Looking back into the archive, I found this from December 4th, 2011:

I thought of the seventh generation, that saying from a Native American culture.  So, of course, I looked into the meaning of those words.  I went first to Wikipedia — “Seven generation sustainability“, which is not a place to cite a source, but it opens portals.  I skimmed “The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations” and that led me to look for Oren Lyons and his take on the seventh generation idea.  I found a transcript of a speech he gave to the United Nations in 1993.  In that speech he said,

Our leaders were instructed to be men of vision and to make every decision on behalf of the seventh generation to come; to have compassion and love for those generations yet unborn. We were instructed to give thanks for All That Sustains Us.

He continues on, speaking of many ways the Indigenous Peoples and this earth have been treated.  And he says this:

Even though you and I are in different boats, you in your boat and we in our canoe, we share the same River of Life. What befalls me, befalls you. And downstream, downstream in this River of Life, our children will pay for our selfishness, for our greed, and for our lack of vision.

500 years ago, you came to our pristine lands of great forests, rolling plains, crystal clear lakes and streams and rivers. And we have suffered in your quest for God, for Glory, for Gold. But, we have survived. Can we survive another 500 years of “sustainable development?” I don’t think so. Not in the definitions that put `sustainable’ in today. I don’t think so.

You can read the full text of his speech here: Haudenosaunee Faithkeeper, Chief Oren Lyons addressing delegates to the United Nations Organization.

Where do I go from here?  I have a child on the way, a family to care for.  What do I do about those short-sighted people that are trying to run our lives?  How can I get them to understand that the destruction of our natural world for the short-term benefits of their greed and avarice, for their selfishness and lack of maturity, is wrong?

I am working on becoming a teacher.  I am working on becoming a father.  Both make me understand that the true quality of life is life itself — my generation, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next…

We all walk this earth together. We need to move beyond where we are – as individuals, as races, as a species – in order to find purpose and reason.

Our planet is our home; she is our life. She is fragile and she needs our protection. We must accept the responsibilities that come with power.

Voltaire said, “With great power comes comes great responsibility.”

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.

Love.

 

Posted by: David McKay | May 14, 2014

Connections

I have been gone a long time from this blog – many adventures while living in a garage in a forest on an island in a sea…

Now I am back in a connected world and have been slowly noticing a lot that is going on, from the massive stream of humanity on the highways to the exhausting sound of lawn maintenance equipment in the neighborhood; from the stories of a friend who traveled the world seeing humanity crawling all over the planet, but who also stood on Easter Island seeing the night sky as it was meant to be seen.

Oil and gas. That’s all we are these days. It’s all about the oil and gas.

From the television that is always on I hear about early forest fires and the Santa Anna winds in California. The 350th month in a row of above average temperatures. The polar ice cap melting. I constantly look at the gas gauge in my car wondering how empty it will get before I fill it up again, and if I will be able to afford it.

I am intensely interested in the fight to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. The Koch brothers are all over the news right now (the Daily Show is what I call news – one place of many that I am drawn to for information). The grocery stores are just going nuts with the plastic bags – I see them blowing in the wind and sticking on trees and fences everywhere there are trees and fences for them to get stuck on. The straws are being shoved down our throats. An old woman at the convenient store ahead of me in line yesterday bought three York peppermint patties and the cashier asked her if she wanted a bag and the lady said yes! C’mon!

It’s all petroleum based. Our entire way of life, our entire way of destruction is driven by petroleum. Life once existed without it. For thousands and thousands of years. Tens of thousands…

And for what? Are we all comfortable yet? Are we all taking it easy because plastic makes everything convenient and simple?

We are just making it worse. We are addicted – as a culture – to gas and oil and plastic. It is now a world culture. Very few people are not being affected by this problem. A lot of us struggle to get enough of it. Like these men in the Gaza Strip:

IPS: Desperate Gazans Turn Plastic Into Fuel

A man and his sons built a device to turn plastic into fuel on their roof, desperate for it because the Israeli blockade severely limits Gaza’s fuel supply. Yes! Turning plastic back into a petroleum that can then be used is brilliant. It is a crude device, and it is not the first one that I have heard about, but it is a creation that is, in my eyes, attempting to make life better. Right now, on that roof, it is making life better for those men and their families. What choice do they have? They are being controlled by another country, another class of people.

I see a parallelism between Israel/Palestine and the wealthy elite and the rest of us in this country. We are being controlled in almost every way now by petroleum based products. It is in the stores, our homes, our transportation. We are dependent upon it. Our way of life would collapse without it. We are tearing up the planet to find more. We are killing anything that gets in our way – everything that gets in our way.

There is another parallelism in this story:

“Ordinary fuel is not readily available due to high prices, and this makes us look for locally produced fuel that helps us to overcome the energy crisis and relieve us of an economic burden,” Shadi Abu Samra, 35, from Al-Shati refugee camp tells IPS.

The United States has turned to domestic sources to relieve us of an economic burden (or so they say). This is from the Huffington Post 05/14/14: North Dakota Oil Well Still Leaking Crude, Gas And Fracking Fluid Days After Spill. This is just what those men are doing on their rooftop, but on a massively larger scale.

Those men in Gaza are desperate and they see no other choice. Is that the same for Denver-based Emerald Oil, the company responsible for the spill in the article? Are the CEOs in that company desperate for their bonuses?

Again from the IPS article:

In harsh conditions where survival is a struggle, not many are thinking of the environment, or even of long-term damage to their health.

The CEOs of those oil and gas companies, the politicians in their pockets, the billionaires who take and take and who give so little in return are not struggling for survival. What are they so scared of, that they have to rule with such a tight fist? Why are they so disconnected that they cannot see how their actions are killing us?

Some walls need to be broken down, I think.

Thank you, IPS, for reporting news that is actually interesting.

And thank you for reading. Take care of yourselves. Try to make a difference for the better, whatever you are doing out there.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.

Love.

 

 

Posted by: David McKay | January 23, 2013

A Thought on Thoreau and Walking…

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.

So said Henry David Thoreau in The Atlantic, June 1862.

I found this quote and the subsequent link in a recent The Atlantic article about When Trees Die, People Die.

It’s the beginning of Thoreau’s article that struck a chord for me:

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that.

I would be someone who would speak for Nature: “Absolute freedom and wildness… a part of Nature.” Civilization be damned – “the minister and the school committee.”

I would be someone who would speak for Humanity: “Absolute freedom and wildness… a part of Nature.” Civilization be damned – “the minister and the school committee.”

Can you slow down enough to find Thoreau’s pace of living? Is that even possible anymore?

Slow down.

No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence which are the capital in this profession.

Does money buy leisure, freedom, and independence?

Does money buy time?

What can you do, now, for four hours a day, to match what Thoreau had in 1862? It may be that most of us no longer have the time to walk four hours a day, as Thoreau did in his time, but I do believe that we can create our own walks in life.

I walk with my family, my planet, and my home.

What is your definition of family?

My Family = My Planet = My Home.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.

Love.

Posted by: David McKay | January 7, 2013

Tar Sands In My Backyard?

I have been aware of the tar sands – one of the largest industrial projects on the face of the planet – for a few years now. What can I tell you about it? Let’s start with a picture:
tar sands

The boreal forests of Canada support an abundance of flora and fauna: 85 species of mammals, 130 species of fish, 32,000 species of insects. Let us not forget the 300 species of birds that nest there.

The picture above is what’s left of a boreal forest after it has been worked over by the only mammal still living there – the human.

Canada wants to send tar sands bitumen through a pipe line across the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Read about it here in Bitumen in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

I say, “Fuck that.”

Posted by: David McKay | November 6, 2012

Simple.

I just moved. Again. Four times in four years. Just the way it is, I suppose.
But now, I live within walking distance of beer, pizza, used books, a stream, a river, the woods, a co-op, good friends, a library, coffee, breakfast, burgers made with local beef and cooked by a skilled grill-man, dirt roads, a mountain…

This evening I walked to the co-op. I needed some popcorn for election night. I brought a glass jar for the popcorn – organic corn. I brought a jar for the nutritional yeast, too. Ever tried that on popcorn? Do it.

A month-long sojourn with Liza and Johannah of staying with friends, living the gypsy life while our apartment was getting put together took its toll.

It’s good to be in one spot, to think again about baking bread, of making meals, of just slowing down.

Of making things simple.

Making things simple is not so simple. It requires effort to look effortless. But, man, does it feel good when things just fit together.

Randomly, I have started saying this to my 5th graders: “Dalai Lama.” That’s all. Makes me smile, it does, to say that. Simple.

So, bring a jar with you the next time you go shopping. And enjoy the popcorn. Dalai Lama.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.

Love.

Posted by: David McKay | August 24, 2012

Resilience

Resilience.

One of the words highlighted during my in-service to start my new teaching job. An interesting word. It implies that we came from an origin, a place where we were.

What was that place, and how exactly are we returning to our original form?

Can you see the questions? Can you see that we are reaching a point in the spectrum of humanity where we really, honest to goodness, saints preserve us, really, really, need to do some thing. Some thing.

What do you want done? If you are asking the question, it means that you want an answer.

I want answers.

Don’t you? Are you asking questions? You’d god damned well better be asking questions. If you’re a student of mine you will be.

Can we survive as a species in this time and age, as we stand by and watch so many other species die?

How can we survive as a species in this time and age, if we just stand by and watch so many others die?

We have an obligation.

I want my daughter to grow. She needs help.

You need to help her.

Please.

I’ll do it without you, but it would be a hell of a lot better if you were to join me.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.

Love.

Posted by: David McKay | August 9, 2012

Becoming.

My last post I started by saying I wanted to jump start my writing. Lately, life has been playing havoc with any kind of schedule other than just getting from one day to the next and I had let the writing slide.

If you have ever done any kind of writing and thought to yourself that perhaps you might actually be good at writing and then you one day realized that in order to actually be good at something you actually had to do it, then you know how I feel on most days.

I have been trying to do this “Photo a Day Challenge” through facebook for the last three months. It goes one month to the next and there is a subject for each day. For example, today’s photo subject is “messy.” I could take a picture of my kitchen counter, or the floor of my car. Or my life. Or being a teacher. Our society would fit. Human existence.

A photograph, words on paper – these are ways to distill the mess into precise form.

The challenge we all face – finding a balance between the past and the future, here in the now of the present? That can be messy. It usually is. Watching human life unfold in all its glorious mess is a wonderful thing.

My daughter drools and pees and poops. That can be messy. But what a joy! Such a beautiful life! How incredibly happy she is to be alive to have the chance to do all of that!

Is there something you know that you are good at, but just aren’t putting enough of your energy into? I imagine there might be something – for each and every one of us. Start thinking about what that is, and what you can do to make a change. Do that today. Challenge yourself.

And do that again tomorrow. Repeat.

I believe that life is about becoming.

Thanks for reading.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.

Love.

Posted by: David McKay | July 12, 2012

Changing.

I have been trying to kick-start my writing lately. The last two posts show that. And, I suppose I have also been trying to release some pent-up emotions. Those two posts were like bursts of steam escaping from sudden, brand new cracks in the crust of the earth on the slope of a mountain rising out of a sea..

There is a rumbling within me that is seeking a way to get out, to burst, to ease pressure…
To relax.

Right? That happens a lot in nature: animals hunting, volcanoes erupting, the earth quaking. There is fire and lightning, thunder and sudden downpours, the intensity of being born…

And when you are born – after that fight to survive, after finding air for the first time, after the intensity of the hardest thing you have ever done in your life – if you are lucky enough to find yourself meeting people who love you – truly love you – then you will learn that it is okay to relax;

To learn to smile;
To begin to laugh;
To love unconditionally.

You learn other things, too.

You learn to cry.
You learn that when you are so sad, when all you know how to do is cry, you learn to trust, because you know those people will help you go back to smiling, and laughing, and loving.

You learn to remember what you have learned.

Thanks for reading.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.
Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.
Love.

Posted by: David McKay | July 7, 2012

A Sea-change…

I made a comparison today:

The slob sitting life out on the couch smoking and drinking, playing video games and watching mainstream television bullshit eating processed foods and Monsanto GMO chemicals is the same as the rich person buying up material crap, hiding in penthouses and McMansions behind locked doors and individually wrapped lives, constantly busy busy busy with no time to give to the simple needs of living, hiding their fear, unable to cope with reality.

They are both in denial. They are both contributing to the destruction of our world through apathy and selfishness.

One feeds off the other, and around it goes…

I believe that the people that are ruining this planet know that they are. How they live with themselves is easy to figure out – they cannot come to terms with their own weaknesses, and so they opt out. But, really, their weaknesses are quite simple. It boils down to just one – they are human.

We, as humans, are in the process of waking up – as a species.

It is time. To make a change. Before it is too late.

I challenge you to stop what you are doing and think about how you can do it better.

That is all. Just do it better…

Take some responsibility for more than just yourself.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.

Love.

Some links to earlier posts about the sea-change:

http://beyondplastic.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/why-you-should-read-this-blog/

http://beyondplastic.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/full-fathom-five-thy-father-lies/

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