Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"think, listen, and be present"

With my home workspace ready for the new year, it's time to start preparing for my spring classes, which begin in about four weeks. Serendipitously, Randy Murray (Who Writes for You?) has a compelling post today that perfectly captures what I want for my students. No matter what I am teaching -- popular culture, fashion history, research methods -- my number one goal is to awaken them to thinking. Balzac's dismissive description of unreflective existence, "like skating on the surface of life" (Cousin Bette) jumped out at me from the page in 1977 and changed me forever. In that instant, I recognized what I wanted for myself, having drifted through most of my twenties waiting for "real life" to begin.

Murray's one resolution: "I want to think, listen, and be present".

In my daily life, that means taking some time everyday to stop and really attend to what is right in front of me, whether it is chopping onions or talking with my husband. Embracing the cold, gray winter day I have instead of the spring thaw I long for. One of the reasons I write is that I cannot do it mindlessly.

In my teaching, that translates into really thinking about our relationships with the "stuff" of everyday life. Clothes. Electronic gadgets. Music. Reality TV. It means learning to recognize that we each experience life from our own unique position in time and point of view, shaped by our identity. It means listening to others' opinions and experiences and being able to understand them in the contexts of their own unique humanity. It means learning to write from the center of their being, not from a graphic organizer and a thesaurus.

"think, listen, and be present" -- I like that!


1 comment:

Randy Murray said...

Thanks for the link love, Jo!