Learning Continuously

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Good Sunday Morning,

Yesterday was hectic and yet manageable, and I am feeling also successful. If you have been reading my blog this past month, you are aware that I have struggled both personally and professionally. The great majority of those struggles have been self-induced, not necessarily because of the actual events or changes, but because of my response and reaction to them. I have created more stress for myself than was certainly needed. While I do not really desire stress as part of my life (I do not like drama because I was married to that at one point.), I am learning my fragility has a way of inducing it. By taking things more personally than I should, I create dilemmas that are unnecessary and ultimately hurtful. That is some of what I have begun to understand more precisely in the last weeks, and particularly this last week. While I was stressing about this conference, the other was pulling all-nighters because of all the things on her plate. I was too concerned with my own stuff to think more carefully about the bigger picture. For that I owe Melissa an apology and, so Melissa, I ask for your forgiveness. Seems I have needed to offer more apologies than usual lately (and for the most part to the same person). Humility is an important thing and it seems I have been humbled quite a bit as of late.

Last night in the preparation and taping for the OSCLG Conference, I had a wonderful opportunity to consider what has happened to me this year. I reflected last night after we had finished and I was not quite asleep on a text from March that noted it was going to be a good year. I cannot agree more when I consider all of the things that have happened. I have learned more about myself, both positive and not so much, than perhaps any time period in my life. The taping of the presentation was really enjoyable and it was revealing for me. I learned so much more about these messages and Melissa’s insight into how to manage both the content in that event as well as her insights into the texts left me in awe. She is really quite brilliant. I have always assumed that, but it has been an assumption because I have not really ever worked with her. We have worked around each other, but never actually with each other in an intentional way. She is focused (not surprising); she is effective and efficient (again, not surprising), but she is also much more of a scholar than I believe she gives herself credit for being. She is an outstanding student as is shown by what she has accomplished, but grades and application are something quite different. I am really excited to finish up the presentation and present it at the conference this week. I am thinking that in someways what we recorded might be more effective than if we would have been there together as originally planned. Ironic that the conference is titled “Engendering Technology” and we used some pretty sophisticated camera equipment for the filming last night. I am indebted to her father and Jorge for their willingness to come on a Saturday and spend most of their late afternoon and all of their evening to do this. It was also nice that Maria was there also. She always brightens my day.

I should note it is now Sunday afternoon and before I get to work on some other things, I am sitting in Jim Thorpe working in a coffee shop. I needed to stop by my nutritionist’s shop and pick up some things and chat with her about how things are going. Now I am sitting in an amazing place called “Strange Brew” (and no the Mackenzie Brothers are not to be found. Bummer!) and drinking apple cider and working. I love coming to Jim Thorpe. I think it is a place I can relax also. It is not quite as far to travel as Placerville. That is a good thing. Even though I have been coming to Jim Thorpe the entire time I have been back in Pennsylvania, I am still stunned at the transformation this town went through from when I left here in 1992 and when I came back in 2009. There is very little that could connect you with the town it was in the late 80s and 90s. It is now quaint (yes, I will admit “touristy”), Victorian, and quite appealing. It is a wonderful place to come in the Fall during their Foliage Festival or during the Christmas Holidays. Now I can enjoy being here by myself or bringing someone to experience the ambiance of the town for the first time as is happening today.

I have really been reflecting on what I have learned in my life in a really specific way and thinking about from where some of those lessons have come. As I have been listening to music today, those of you who know me well are aware that I have a somewhat encyclopedic memory for songs, lyrics, bands, when a song was released, and other minutia about whatever song I know. I am not sure where or how that happened, but I think at least part of it is being blessed (although not always a blessing) with a pretty phenomenal memory. So as we are sitting in the coffee shop, I am listening to the music, singing along, and this is happening with almost every song. I am getting some rather puzzled looks, a look like “you know this one too?” It just happens. Music has been such a central part of my life. I have been singing my entire life. I guess one of the good things about music now being “clouded” is I cannot lose it. When I was divorced from Susan, I lost probably 1,000 albums; CDs were justing coming in, but I lost a significant number of those too. When I left Terri, I lost a boatload of CDs and a pretty kick-ass stereo including my Bose Acousti-mass speakers. Now I have a boatload of music on iTunes and I use both iTunes Radio and Pandora. I have to give Jordan and Melissa credit for bringing me into the current decade. I think the entire DJ movement is such an interesting development when one considers issues of composing, intellectual property. These are the things I think about; these are the things I want to understand and learn more about. Technology as created such amazing opportunity, but how does it change the artistic process and what it means to compose? How does it change the interaction between vocals and instrumentation? These are some of the things I have my students investigating right now as they are working on their papers. For me it is about learning more. I cannot merely walk through life oblivious to what is happening around me. It is essential to me to be always asking why. The why is not mean to question validity nor even to agree or disagree, it is to understand; it is to be able to carry on a meaningful and thoughtful conversation with others.

I think the specific moment (or short period) that I finally understood that learning was absorbing versus memorizing was when I was traveling in Europe in January 1980 with Dr. Nielsen and the interim class where we had read books by Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Mann. As I walked through Western Europe I felt like I was walking through a history and it was my task to soak up every possible molecule of knowledge I could. What I learned was I loved to learn, not merely for some sort of recitation, but rather for trying to understand the world in which I live and how it has become that world, and to understand this, or even or scratch the surface, one must return to our roots. I have those study guides and all those materials from my humanities class in my office right now. It was during those semesters that I had the opportunity to travel to Europe. Now it is 35 years later, and I am still trying to understand it all. I want to know everything I can. I know that might sound a bit ridiculous to some, but to me it merely learning. It is absorbing and reflecting. It is trying to see where I fit in this complex and jumbled world. It is hoping (and last night helped me to understand that I do :)) that I make a difference. Yet, it is not about what I do, but rather what I might leave behind. That is what matters. It is hoping that what I do makes other peoples’ lives better. It is realizing that when I learn, I teach more effectively. It is realizing that learning rejuvenates me. It is believing that somehow helping others to understand both the world and themselves makes their part of the world a better place. I know that I have a limited time, but I am okay with that.

Es la parte de lo que realicé en las 24 horas pasadas cuando trabajamos juntos pensativamente e intencionadamente. Es lo que realicé y aprendí cuando le miré estudiar detenidamente nuestro proceso y reunir un juego profundo y revelador de preguntas que creo proporcionará una presentación asombrosa para aquellos que asisten a nuestra sesión en San Francisco. Mientras usted no está allí en la persona, usted está allí de un modo mucho más profundo. Su brillantez mostrará por sin el resplandor físico usted ha proporcionado mi vida. Gracias tanto.

Thanks as always for reading.

Dr. Martin

Published by thewritingprofessor55

As I move toward the end of a teaching career in the academy, I find myself questioning the value and worth of so many things in our changing world. My blog is the place I am able to ponder, question, and share my thoughts about a variety of topics. It is the place I make sense of our sometimes senseless world. I believe in a caring and compassionate creator, but struggle to know how to be faithful to the same. I hope you find what is shared here something that might resonate with you and give you hope.

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