Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year’s Resolution, Part 2

Good Enough, and Getting Better

Yesterday I talked about my resolution to be “good enough” and to “shine one little corner of the world.” I mentioned Mr. Rogers and how he often told his viewers, “I like you just the way you are.” Suzuki Roshi told his students the same thing, but with a twist. He said,

“Each of you is perfect the way you are...and you can use a little improvement.”

Little Improvements

If I can lighten up on myself, I know it will help give me the courage to make improvements. (Like many people I know, I can be hard on myself and get too discouraged to work on improvements.) Writing this blog is self improvement practice. Writing down—and sharing—my thoughts about teaching and living ought to help me learn more about...teaching and living. *

It turns out that Mr. Rogers, the guy who was always telling his viewers, “I like you just the way you are,” wasn’t easy on himself. He strove to improve. The love of his life, his wife, Mrs. Fred Rogers, writes,

“He worked hard at being the best he could be. In fact, it seems to me he worked a lot more than he played. Discipline was his very strong suit. If I were asked for three words to describe him, I think those words would be courage, love, and discipline—perhaps in that order.”

The little improvements I wish for me are the same that I wish for you: May you feel safe, happy, and kind, and may you help others feel that way, too.


*It’s really encouraging to hear from readers who like this newsletter. You don’t have to be a blogger to write a comment. Just choose an identity and chime in. Otherwise, a lonely blogger may imagine that he’s sending out messages that evaporate in the ether. My sister said, “Only mothers read blogs.” Well, that won’t work for me, unless heaven’s online. (Just in case: Hello, Mom. I love you.) So, please, write.

(See where it says "Post a Comment" in underlined fine print down there, just a little? Click on it, and write in the text box that comes up soon as you've clicked.


James Gurney said...

Mothers, maybe, but brothers, too. I love your blog, Dan, and learn from it every day.

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Hey, thanks! You're up late, too!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan and thanks for this wonderful blog...

You' re right : Courage, Discipline and Love are pilars to a nice life, as well as be kind or at least courteous...
To my view, this is also the message Nature send us...
Flowers, so delicate grow with Courage ( see for instance the first " crocus " through the snow or the " edelweiss " ).
Plants allow leaves and flowers one after the other with discipline ( see inside a pea plant, after suchexquisite flowers ! ).
Plants exchange O2 or C with atmosphere as a great Love on the flow....

HAPPY 2008 with more than 2008 minutes of grace , mirth, health everydays... to all


culmom37 said...

I am always chiming in, but it is because I truly enjoy reading your blog. I think you are very inspiring and your love for children and life is richly presented. Enjoy your remaining few days off left to enjoy you! Looking forward to a great 2008 in the classroom. Can I also say that I think you have a super wonderful and loving family just from what I have read in your blog and I think you are very rich with love in your life. Money, in my opinion, is nice to have, but extremely over-rated.

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Hi Sylvia,

Thanks for your response! Your observations about the generosity of plants reminds me of an Indian guru who held that the highest life forms aren't animals, but plants.

Plants use water, minerals in soil, CO2, and sunlight to generously produce food and nutriment for all animal life.

I live in the part of the world Luther Burbank once lived. His reverence for plants still reverberates in Sebastopol. At least I can feel it. How I wish I could have dinner with him!


Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Well, thank you, Culmom37! I appreciate the fact that you're chiming in.

If my family is a loving one, it's because all of us work at it. I think my brothers, Jim and David and sisters, Martha and Ruth, would agree that's a fair thing to say! I know that we've all worked hard to lessen suffering (dukkha) and increase love (metta).

My kids and my wife know I work at it too. They get the up-closest look at me, so maybe they know best how much work it is!

Lots of times I hear parents say of their kids, "Wait till you get XXX. It won't be easy!" But what I know is I don't get their kid at home; I get their public personality, which is always easier.

We are all like that: we are most difficult for our families. That's exactly why our families--especially teenagers--are so valuable! They point out, often tactlessly, exactly where you need to grow. If you have enough patience to keep listening to them, man, they're good teachers.

Jill Davis Doughtie said...

I love, love, love your blog and look forward to your posts. Happy New Year!

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Thank you, Jill! Your enthusiasm is very encouraging to me!


sylvia said...

Hi Dan,

Your answerings are joys to me... Thanks for letting me discover M. Luther Burbank i shall study his bio... Have you heard about the Land Institute.org in the USA ? the aim is to renew natural meadows... they welcome writers...events...
how lucky are we to communicate over the oceans.....
Sir Roger Penrose in his book about the brain and the computer reminds us also that Plants are the most evolved creations in the world... So pr Werner Heisenberg, nobel prize too.....

What could we do for Nature ? Why not write a book about that for kids ? For instance a " book about animals ( Bestiaire ) written by a country kid ( as the little house in the meadow ) from own experiences in Nature directed to kids living downtowns...

Wish you 2008 minutes of joy, health, friendship and all the best every day and to all the planet

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Hi Sylvia,

About half the fun of blogging is the talk back and forth in the comments. I'm glad you enjoy them as much as I do. Both Jim and I appreciate your energy.

In Jim's Chandara book on page 139 he has a little reference to Sir Roger Penrose, the Pen and Rose Fraternity.

Writing a book about plants makes me wonder what the trees might have to say about the wood pulp used to make a book. Perhaps blogging is better?

Anyhow, thank you Sylvia!

Best regards,