Creative Sway and Balance

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Last night I watched and listened to the storm from my attic bedroom window. It was high-octane drama: from the insane lashing of tree branches to the whoosh and howl of gale force winds to the abrupt wail of sirens rushing to a west-end fire. Last night, my double-glazed windows suddenly seemed very, very thin…

Here is a link to a piece I wrote for Shambhala Sun about maintaining (swaying) balance in the face of outer or inner storm conditions.

(Etching by Tokyo-based Kumi Obata.)

All Children Are Surrealists at Heart

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The primordial urge of childhood is to re-invent the world, to reject the already-signified (be it a Lego castle, or a Tonka truck), in favor of the disassembled and fragmentary—the yet-to-be. Children break toys apart, reduce them to raw materials, and re-combine them in order to contravene the laws of nature and manufacture. All children are surrealists at heart. They can make a squid drive a bus, and draw speech from a log.

My own children inspire me by refuting the rules and values which govern the adult world, by retreating into the forest of their imaginations. They show me what it means to be a creator rather than a proprietor: to see in the world things worth making not just worth owning.

(Art by Mika, age 8.)

The Teachers

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Thinking of teachers: the one with the wild scribbled notes that grow wilder with enthusiasm or tiredness, the one with the ears that seem larger for being open and listening, the one with the reclining deckchair that turns every child into a king or queen for a day, the one who can transforms a child’s hindrance into her proud gift, the one who calls on the weekend to see how a child is doing after a bad fall, the one who encourages loud undisciplined reckless music, the one who gives space to a child’s grief without making that space feel like a banishment, the one who openly admits to being outsmarted every single day, the one who teaches the genius of a good mistake, the one who appears unbendable who then bends, the one who grows kindness in his classroom so it spreads like a robust weed…

Thinking of teachers in Ontario and why they deserve our full and unconditional support (despite the short-term frustration of losing extracurricular sports, arts and clubs) as they defend their long-term constitutional rights, their right to strike and to exercise collective action and their right to oppose the frightful legislation known as Bill-115.

If you want a reminder of what a school can be if its teachers are treated with the respect they have earned and deserve, then you might want to visit George Webster Junior School (as I did last week.) The Principal, Nancy Steinhauer, will tell you that the so-called “little things” (whether that be nutrition programs, weekend programs, a pediatric health clinic) require a boosted staff and can make a world of difference.