Friday, April 25, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/24/14: Student Gratitude, Silver King Teachers, I Love Pasta

1.  It's likely that when this spring quarter ends, I'll never teach another college course.  I'm not doing anything special in the section I'm teaching this spring to mark the end of my teaching days.  I do what I've been doing for many years now.   The emphasis of the course is on questions examining the meaning of life from a more philosophical point of view, less from a social or political one.  I showed the movie Happy today.  We are viewing it as an exploration of value-based happiness, that is, happiness that is experienced by examining one's purpose in life, one's values, and doing one's best to live according to one's values -- or, what Steven Reiss calls, basic desires.  These basic desires are desires of the inward self, not physical desires.  If a central idea emerges from all the people profiled in Happy, it is that on both a spiritual level and on a neurological level, serving others, being compassionate, and expressing gratitude are keys to happiness.  To live primarily concerned with money, status, and popularity, that is, to be mostly self-interested, does not enhance happiness, but creates anxiety, dissatisfaction, and a sense of never being fulfilled.  (I think preoccupation with these aspects of life also creates anger and resentment and deep insecurity.)  The movie hit one of my students, about eight years younger than I am, particularly deeply and he stayed after class and told me, "I'm finally getting it.  School really is about learning, not about scoring well on tests and exams. It feels like up to now, my classes have been all about the tests and quizzes.  I'm finally learning about life. This is really great stuff."  I didn't say much.  I didn't need to.  He's right. It is great stuff.  I think at least a handful of other students think so, too.

2. My life long bud, Rick Wainright, posted a picture of the teachers (including my mother) at Silver King Elementary school, standing on the front steps of the school in the shadow of the Zinc Plant and the Lead Smelter.  The plants are outside the picture's frame.  A fantastic thread of comments grew out of his post as a bunch of us worked to identify each of the teachers and remembered life at Silver King and around the Silver Valley around 1960, give or take a few years.  Other pictures of individual Silver King classes followed and so did the remembering and the identifying, as best we could, who the different students were.

3.  The Deke has been gathering the paperwork she needs to submit to her new school district and while she was running around, she stopped in at Market of Choice and bought us each a spaghetti and meatball dinner and a bleu cheese salad.  I bought us a bottle of red wine and a baguette and we enjoyed what turned out to be an awesome dinner.  I don't eat as much pasta as I'd like to.  I would love to eat it every single day.  So, when I do have a plate of spaghetti and red sauce with meatballs and some baguette and butter and some juicy red wine, I savor it.  It's heavenly.  I love it.

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