Keep Pushin’

Hello from my front seat of Bruce, The Beetle,

I am waiting for my friends and colleagues at our appointed place for dinner. My brain is whirling for a variety of reasons, and that is when I find it most necessary to write. It is a way to clear my thoughts, to structure the chaos, and a way by which I can move forward most efficiently. This afternoon I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with my late pastor’s son. It was the first time we spoke in more than a year. We have played phone tag on more than one occasion. Over the years we have managed to stay connected and it seems too often our actual conversing has occurred at those moments we are confronted with our mortality, with the reality of life’s changes. Changes that are mortally eternal, which are profound and emotional.

David spoke about the last moments with his father, and how he had never witnessed a death before. Certainly when that experience is your parent, it is overwhelming. I read him the blog written for his father and during our conversation there were tears from both sides. Loving someone, truly loving them beyond something comprehensible, with a wholeness or totality that eludes our normal thoughts or imagination is what I heard in David’s voice and through his tears. It is not a perfect love, but it is an unparalleled love. It is a life-giving love that we all hope to achieve. And it was a beautiful love to witness even through a phone. While it was not an unexpected love to hear about, seldom does such a beautiful expression occur. I was blessed in that exchange with my friend, one who has covered my entire adult life. In spite of the moment for him two weeks ago, we also note for us life continues and there is the reality of moving on. However, there is a sort of gut-check reality that one’s own generation has become the elder. In spite of the reality that created this role, there is something privileged in becoming that, the elder. And so the reality is we keep pushin’ . . . Keep pushin’ on.

As I write this, now on Thursday morning, another week of classes is completed today for the majority of my classes. While the semester has been beyond busy, it has also been another learning experience for me. There is always something to ponder, to imagine, and yes, to be amazed from in the daily push from the first day to the semester’s final posting. For over two and a half years, when we unexpectedly received a second week of Spring break, students, faculty, and administrators at the university (and individuals around the world) have labored to manage the virus that has enveloped our globe. To say we have struggled seems to be kind at best, and regardless one’s stance on social distancing, masking, or being vaccinated, we have pushed through. Recently I received the latest of the boosters, and yes, I have been injected (for those old enough to understand, I am hearing strains of Alice’s Restaurant) for flu and pneumonia. Indeed, selected, inspected . . . Sometimes it is easy to become overwhelmed and wonder if it all matters, but I wish such moments to be bit fleeting ones – ones that remind me of my humanness, but also ones that push me to be better, imagine better, strive for better. To keep pushin’ has become a mantra that is characteristic of my daily practice. I not always as successful as I wish, but seldom do I feel I am being regressive. I think retreat or failure to move ahead is a mindset more than an actual motion.

It is easy to feel disappointed in our current world’s atmosphere; I am sure the last 50 days in the UK are somewhat unprecedented; I am sure the situation for both the Russians and Ukrainians is very untenable, but nevertheless, it continues; In spite of our own midterm elections being only a week away, I think I am both accurate and realistic (and unfortunately so) that the beat of the 2024 drum will be echoing in my ears some the following day. It is with certainly that I say I hope I am in another country before that next November election. I do wonder what the founders of the country, those on either side of that political coin would say about where we currently are? While I believe I am a patriotic American, and I actually like exploring politics, I am tired of it all. It is not the intention of the political process, it is what we have managed to do with it. Hence, my question about our founders. I am sure there was some significant rancor in the founding conversations. It is important to remember many of the founders were in their 20s, and in spite of the differences between the 18th and the 21st century, 20-something males are exactly that.

As school this week, in other places, the reality of our daily grind seems to be more profound then is often the case. Why is that? Is it a perception or a reality? Perception is reality until proven otherwise, but I am much more a person who wanted to deal with the reality of something. I am reminded of some others questioning if everything must be logical to me? My answer was a pretty straightforward yes. It is how I teach. It is how I manage; and yes; it is my version of the title, the adage, the reality of this blog . . . life is process. Life is the reality of the push and being pushed. It is something that allows for possibility and hope. There will always be the reality that we will be pushed harder than we ourselves can push. There is the reality that we can be knocked down. Th question is how successfully can we get back up? Getting up is never simple, but it is always possible. Often it is a dirty process. There are times when others might prefer we remain flat on our faces. There are three times in my life when I was ostensibly told, you might as well stay down. After a serious argument with a band director, who found out I had enlisted in the Marines, told me I would never survive boot camp. That was motivating. There was a college prescient who told me I would never have a PhD. And yet I do. And there was a bishop willing to take away something precious, and content to leave me wounded on the road like the person in the parable of the Good Samaritan. There were those who found me and tended my wounds. Through it all I was able to keep pushin’

As I finally finish this blog, it is now the first of November. It is the time to remember the Saints in our lives. It is easy to believe Saints are someone extraordinary, and extraordinary they are, but they are simultaneously human, ordinary individuals. Perhaps it is not by accident that yesterday was also the day Luther hung his 95 theses on a castle door 500 years ago. Luther’s dialectic of simul justis et peccator could be understood as keep pushin’ on. The tools to make a difference, the ability to be a light to another is within each of us. It was my grandmother who succeeded in a battle with alcoholism; it was my father who created a family of three children he did not create; it was a small diminutive woman, an only child, who came to another country and changed people’s lives in a classroom; they are three saints in my life. They were not perfect, but they loved me. None of them would consider themselves saints, but to me they were. They simply demonstrated the ability to keep pushin’ and by their actions and their love, I am but an ember of their incredible fire.

Below is the song that inspired this blog, I am reminded of more than once I saw this band in concert; am there is more than one album I probably played the grooves off from the number of times I would listen to them.

Dr. Martin

Published by thewritingprofessor55

I am a professor at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and the director of and Professional and Technical Writing minor, a 24 credit certificate for non-degree seeking people, and now a concentration in Professional Writing and Digital Rhetoric. We work closely to move students into a 4+1 Masters Program with Instructional Technology. I love my work and I am content with what life has handed me. I merely try to make a difference for others by what I share, write, or ponder through my words.

2 thoughts on “Keep Pushin’

  1. Dear Dr. Martin,
    I read your stories about times when others liked to see you flat on your face. I experienced this more than once myself, so I can relate.
    For example, in high school, I was told by my biology teacher that the university I had chosen to attend was too hard and that I would never make it. She claimed that others, more intelligent than me, could not keep up and had to leave. It puzzled me, at the time, why this teacher needed to tell me her feelings. I did not ask her to give me her opinion, but she decided to share it anyway. Long story short, I finished my master’s degree in Organic chemistry and was begged to stay for a Ph.D.
    Another time, when I was a widow with five small children, I was told that I could not make the airplane trip overseas to see my family on my own. How can I make it with so many children? I indeed needed a helper, they said. Those trips were not easy, but they were necessary for me to accomplish, for my sanity, and to move forward with my life. I found a way and made three trips overseas, just my children and me. All trips were within eighteen months of my fifth baby’s birth.
    My latest example is about changing my engineering career into a physician`s career. I had plenty of people telling me that I was crazy, it was too much for me, and how about my poor children? One must pause and think about why people say such things. I believe that some people get tired just thinking about this idea. They do not want to be bothered, and that is OK; I am not pushing my idea on anyone. Some, however, do not like me to succeed because if I do, it reflects poorly on them. She has five children and went back to school to be a doctor. If she can do it, why can`t I do it? Or even better, should I be doing it too?
    The best revenge is living a good life. If we hold grudges against others and are constantly mad, it only hurts us in the end. How can we move forward and keep pushing if we keep worrying about others? We need to concentrate on ourselves first and forgive those who did us wrong. Only when we do that, do we become truly free to pursue our life`s goals.
    We have a lot in common, Dr. Martin. We are both survivors, in our own ways, and we refuse to give up even when all odds are stacked against us. Our inner drive to always move forward is extremely high, it propelled us to places others dream about and I am certainly grateful for that.
    Helena

  2. Dear Dr. Martin,

    As this semester comes to an end, I find myself in the same position that I am in every single semester. I ask myself, how can the semester be over already? How did it go so fast? The problem is within the school week, all I do is look forward to the next week because it is one week closer to the end. I think about all the hard work I have done and how tired I am. One thing I never think about and appreciate is how much I’ve grown. This post made me grow an appreciation for all of my hard work. I am not merely “surviving”, but instead I am thriving based on the dedication I put into my learning experience. Similarly, I often equate a low grade with a failure of my own self. Rather than seeing this as a failure, I hope to realize that it is simply me getting knocked down. It does not mean that I will stay down forever, but instead that I may have to work a little bit harder to get back up.

    What encourages me the most to get back up are the saints in my life. When I work hard, I often do so to impress other people rather than myself. I do it for my Nana, who didn’t live long enough to see my high school graduation, but I know is still my biggest supporter. To mirror what you said, I can understand that they as well were not perfect which inspires me to get back up when I fall.

    Jayme Baker

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