I have never been more “aware” of myself than I am now. If there are any gifts that cancer has given to me, perhaps it is that awareness.
I am so conscious of the value and the beauty of the life in me and in others. This doesn’t come easily, however, as it is so easy to slip back into the flow of a superficial life where I’m more concerned about the cooking and dishes than the things that really matter – including the kindnesses offered by others. I have to be ever so vigilant to make this awareness a daily habit. That takes work. I am so programmed to achieve that I if I am not conscious of “life” purposefully, I will see my day as being successful only if I write something, clean something, or do something.
It is also so easy for me to slip into planning what I want to do over the next few months, rather than waiting for what opportunities may be presented to me. I have so many ideas in terms of cool curriculum projects and teaching opportunities and job possibilities – but really, is this my life? And will writing curriculum make my life beautiful? I think so many teachers, myself included, are lost in feeling the need to teach what we were taught as children or young adults. Times were different then. I’m not sure we have adjusted our sails to recognize that students today have different needs. Maybe our needs were not met? Who teaches us about our desire to live? I know this was the jurisdiction of my parents and I was so very fortunate that my parents were well equipped to do this. How many of our young people today, however, can say the same? Granted there are so many wonderful families who care for and nurture their children into live-loving adults, but there are so many challenges that families face today to cause distractions. Has this duty to nourish been – or ought it to be – downloaded to the schools?
“Above all, we must be conscious of the beauty of the life in us.” (David Servan-Schreiber -Anti-cancer – a new way of life)
Here is where is gets tricky. How does one define a beautiful life? Is it one where one’s needs are met? Maslow would begin by insisting that it is vital to have food, water, shelter, protection… you know the drill… before love can be attained. Is this where we begin as educators? Can the quest for beauty be as simple as having good nourishing food, an opportunity for exercise, and strong relationships? If that is the case – then I wonder if we, as educators, need to shift our focus even more whole-heartedly to assessing the needs of our students and building a program specificallyfor them? What would that look like? I would hazard to guess that we may be able to finally address the growing pestilence of addiction and mental health issues that plague society. Can it be as simple as being more conscious?
What about beginning with lessons about food? “By choosing a life-style that is more aware, we are not just doing what’s good for ourselves. When we demand food from animals raised with respect for their biological needs, we gradually set off a chain reaction whose effects will be magnified down the line. Thus, our awakening will have an impact on rives and streams. We will be contributing to reducing their pollution (with pesticides from cornfields and waste from feedlot-raised animals)”. (Anti-Cancer) It is any wonder that the most disadvantaged members of Western society also support with the highest cancer rates? (http://seer.cancer.gov/) They are the ones who must be content with the cheapest foods laden with white sugar, white flour, and most tainted by pesticides. And as middle class in North America plummets into poverty, then so too do the number of those who are more prime picking for cancer. Is it not cheaper to subsidize good foods to prevent illness than to subsidize the wrong foods that promote illness? Just a thought.
“Each of us can choose where we want to start: with diet, physical exercise, psychological work, or any other approach that brings more meaning and awareness into our lives.” (Anti-Cancer) What would it look like, in a classroom, to wake up and become more conscious? Would that, in turn, wake up the value of the life and beauty in the young people we teach?
Just a thought.