Teaching Happens All the Time

Today’s blog is going to start in the Star Wars universe, but I promise it won’t end up there. If you do not mind indulging me for a few paragraphs….

This past weekend, I was flipping through the television channels and came across a broadcast of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. It had been a while, so I stopped in to watch. Now, I have seen every release of the Star Wars movies for the first time in the theater, including the one-off movies “Rogue One” and “Solo”. Episode VI is a very favored memory of me and my father, who dragged me to the theaters to see it. I had no idea what I was being taken to see, and to be honest I didn’t really comprehend what I had seen when I left the theater. Like many folks, I have my favorites. My favorite of the films is “Rogue One” which had some powerful storytelling to it. The last three movies of the story arc, VII, VIII and IX are my least favorite films. I don’t care for the story pacing, the story arc, the acting, the directing…none of the three are good films in my mind. So it was an interesting moment for me to stop on a tv channel to watch a film I didn’t like very much.

Maybe I was bored. Maybe I had nothing to do. Or maybe I just wanted to hate on the moment that happened to be on the screen – the start of the scene where Luke comes to burn the Tree and the Jedi Temple, so as to kill the Jedi Order. I remember in the theater, I absolutely hated this scene. I never believed that a character such as Yoda would laugh at Luke with scorn, much less burn the Temple to the ground with a lightning strike. It was a moment in the film that captured every ounce of my scorn, and here I was watching it again. I braced myself to start hating this film again. I watched what happened in the scene. I listened to the dialogue. And suddenly I realized what I was missing…one part of Yoda’s dialogue that had basically blown past me with all my gathered emotions in the theater.

Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters. –Yoda

There was a deep lesson here for Luke. The Temple meant nothing. The “sacred” texts of the Jedi meant nothing. It was his teaching of Rey, showing her not only what he knew, but where he had failed that mattered. Yoda’s point was that each passing generation grows the knowledge a little further, expands on the experience just a little more. Their passion, their energy, their joy, their anguish – that keeps the knowledge thick and able to spread further, not allowing it to thin to a super-stretched, elastic substance that holds nothing and can be seen completely through.

There is a lesson for me on this as well. I am constantly touting that I am no teacher. Whether I like it or not, I am. I am because I exist. I am because I have been on my Pagan Path for thirty some odd years. I am because I write about my experiences and thoughts in this blog (and elsewhere). I might not be formally training people (yet – never say never), but there are folks who gather information and thoughts from what I write. They take that information, process it for themselves, and assimilate what they need for their own Path. Like it nor not, we are all teachers. Like it not, the future of Paganism springs from all of us.

I don’t keep an altar in the house. This is as close as it gets.

Every year I have been to Gulf Coast Gathering or some other Pagan gathering, I notice the younger people that are there. I am in my mid-fifties, though I feel a lot younger on some days and much older on others. I see the twenty-somethings at these gatherings. Especially those that are obviously hungry to add something with meaning to them within their lives, seeking that deeper connection to the world around them. Certainly, they dress and look wild, are a bit louder and far more full of energy than an old fart like me. But then, I remember when I was that young, twenty-something Pagan. I am sure my enthusiasm and exuberance at finding footsteps that felt “right” on my Path made the same impressions on the elder Pagans that I met. I know Pattalee Glass-Koentop made that comment to me one day in her store in Grand Prairie, Texas (Flight of the Phoenix). “You need to find a way to ground yourself, though your excitement and energy is certainly catching.”

I know that teaching my knowledge is a part of my Path. Its a part of all our Paths. We all teach others, every day with every interaction. Whether we understand that or not. My way is not the only way. However, it works for me. Maybe parts of it will work for others. Maybe not. Will I formally teach my knowledge? Perhaps. There are strong indications that it would not only be a good thing but also fun and informative for myself as well. What would it look like? I have no idea. At the moment, its a secondary part of where I am pushing myself. I have my own Druidry studies to get back to, as well as a path to clergy status to figure out – as well as how all of that will look and be within my life. One step at a time. One task at a time. And yes, I recall that I must always be mindful of the living Force. Star Wars may have created that out of some aspect of thin air…or based it on something…but its quite close to the primary part of my Druidry: connection to the world around me. So, live long and prosper…wha? Yeah, I know its not part of Star Wars, but what does that matter?

–T /|\

Thinking About: My Potential Role and Why

So…another Thursday dawns, and with it another ‘Thinking About” segment. This time, I want to pull the focus back from all the politics, revolution and talk of change to the concept of police forces. Not that this stuff does not have an importance in everyone’s live, but uber focusing on it certainly gets old after all – and all the talk around it starts to feel like a tremendous echo chamber. So, its a little important to pull back a bit, if for nothing else than sanity’s sake.

In my mundane life, I’m what is usually referred to as a “Generalist”. I have programming skills. I can handle networking and system administration functions adequately. I can troubleshoot issues with desktop systems and help non-technical users manage their way out of confusion. I can build and repair hardware systems. I am quite capable of working Project management timelines and associating costs to tasks. I can troubleshoot difficult software problems. My area of primary ability – where I am the strongest – is in managing and dealing with database systems. To that end, I can also do some data analysis, though my skill set there is rudimentary, at best. I am not a “professional” looking individual. I am closer to the wild-eyed, coffee-guzzling, grizzled Information Technology geek that is kept in the back. Honestly, this is where I am most at home. Let me know what needs to be done, and I’ll do it. Bring me up front in front of all the Executive members, and they will wonder what sewer you dug me out of. I am better at being your “Mr. Scott” than being your “Mr. Spock” or to quote a sketch from the comedy show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”: “Scotty, just fix the fucking engines…”

Would it surprise you to know that this type of role is also where I am most comfortable within the Pagan community? You know, the Pagan that rolls up their sleeves and tries to get things completed….or in some cases, just started. I am not comfortable formulating the overall plan, but I can look over the plan and tell you where things might have issues – where things will potentially bottleneck. Ask me what the best route to take to get a local Community from point A to point B, and I can formulate a few suggestions, but I doubt many of them will be good. Ask me how to get the community moving in the direction of point B, I’m more than likely your Pagan. But there is a problem.

I am not just a technician. I ask questions. Furthermore, I will try to determine better paths to a solution. There are a lot of people in leadership roles that have issues with people like me. Many folks in leadership spots are accustomed to providing directives and having folks do what they are asked. But I do have to ask questions because I like to make sure every avenue is explored. Plus, if I do not understand what is being done, I tend to ask. Not because I am questioning the ability of the person who set things up, but because for me to do my job correctly and efficiently, it helps to know what the end result that is attempting to be achieved is. What I have found is that this tends to irk people, rather than them feeling that I am trying to be helpful. That leads to a lot of friction, which cascades into personality issues. I am more than understanding over the fact that I can be quite abrasive, especially when I feel that I am being blown off so that I will just get back to work.

So how does all that fall back to my Druidry? Well, the way I work is an intricate part of who and what I am. I cannot turn that off. I do the same thing within my Druidry, and the results of that type of working is probably a large part of why I choose to work alone. See, while I do ask a lot of questions, I am also a conflict-adverse individual. I do not like to start up arguments or even continue an argument – unless there is a valid reason to do so. To me, short-term conflict and disagreement is useful, but only if there is discussion associated with it. If the response I get is to “shut up and just do it”, as I have heard so many times in my previous job….well, I tend to stop asking questions or offering solutions after a while, which runs counter to my nature. I like to be helpful. But I can only be beaten down so much until I become unresponsive. To avoid a lot of that, I work alone. That means that my arguments tend to be with myself, as do my discussions. And now, you have an even clearer picture as to why I tend to follow my Path alone.

But I am not completely solo, Han, Hope or otherwise. I do like to be around other Pagans. I do enjoy conversing with other folks and discussing where and how they are on their own Paths. Those conversations are not only fun, but informative. And yes, I do offer advice and a different perspective from time to time. I’ve never worried about whether someone follows what I tell them. They have to figure out that for themselves, and its a point I always try to make clear.

Tuesday, I posted about finding one’s leadership role within today’s society. Don’t worry, I am not about to go on a short rant about that here. Rather, I want to focus on the Lakota proverb I posted.

Do not only point the way, but lead the way. — Lakota proverb

My role as a Druid (Ovate grade, OBOD) is simply this – to be there for others. I am not going to tell people what to do. Rather, I am going to gather up the lantern and help find the way for not only myself, but others. In a weird sort of way, I am like Charon, the Boatman of the river of Styx. I just don’t have a boat nor am I requiring the payment of the coins placed on your eyes to ferry you across. Or maybe, I am a signpost, pointing the way, with the number of miles left to go. My role is not to lead you, but to help you find your own footing on your own Path. In a super strange sort of way, that’s what this particular blog is becoming. I don’t overtly point you down your Path. I do my best to provide with points and topics to turn over in your own mind as you travel on your Path. Some are not going to see me in that light…and to be honest, I am perfectly fine with that. What I have to say and the way you interpret it, is for you and you alone. I’m no Oracle. I’m no Seer. I’m just the guy in engineering….

And Captain, its those damn dilithium crystals that are causing the problems!

–T /|\