This summer I participated in a qigong class, which is sort of
a mix of tai chi and martial arts (and that makes the class sound much more
strenuous than it was). The group met on
a gently sloping lawn at a retreat center in western Massachusetts. The instructor was in his sixties, calm and
funny, with an Irish lilt to his voice. He put us through our paces, all of us
beginners looking earnest and silly as we mimicked the moves of a tiger, crane,
and dragon. Midway through the class as we all tried to balance on one leg, he
said, "The key to focus is to be cheerfully indifferent - to happily ignore most
of what bothers you."
I looked out at the view - a stunning vista of a large pristine
lake, with mist rising from it in the morning sun. Beyond it was a vast range
of mountains, dwarfing the lake. This was in one tiny corner of the world,
tucked in the Berkshires. It all made me feel small, in a good way. We have so
little time and energy when it comes to all we want to accomplish. We know
this, and yet we still think the biggest crime we can commit is to not care enough.
But if you try to care about everything, you're just spending your entire life
living inside your head. And it's so small compared to all that is out
there. The arrogance is in thinking we
have more hours or more to give than anyone else.
Ever since that class, I've tried to approach more messes
(especially those created by other people) with cheerful indifference. What
good does it do to feel your blood pressure rising or your jaw clench at the
colleague who is always late to the meeting and needs to be brought up to
speed, at the parents who seem to care about their child less than you do? The
weight of the world starts to lift when you stay positive and don't invest any
energy in things you can't change. A happy countenance is a blessing to anyone
who experiences it, and our indifference is a gift to those tasks that need our
focus, and the people who can most benefit from our concern. As George
Lichtenberg writes, "Nothing can contribute more to peace of soul than the lack
of any opinion whatever."
This week we consider some strategies for making minilessons more visual. Plus more as always - enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Last chance to register for the online course Designing Primary Writing Units with the Common Core in Mind instructed by Katie DiCesare, which runs December 3-14. The course includes three on-demand webinars, a DVD, print resources, and personal response from Katie. Click on the link below for more details: