Monday, January 30, 2006

All day, staring at the ceiling, making friends with shadows on my wall...

Yes, it's a Matchbox 20 song. Yet, there is also a great deal of philosophy buried within.

It's Plato's Cave, two thousand years on.

Huh? How do a modern rock song and ancient philosophy relate? Just like this...

In Plato's allegory of the cave, a man is chained to a cave floor, facing a wall. He cannot turn from the wall, and what he sees becomes his reality. Behind him lies a fire, and between him and the fire, objects move. So, he sees the shadows flickering on the wall.

Shadow-chair becomes his chair. Shadow-woman becomes his woman. Shadow-life becomes his life.

It isn't reality, of course. It's a pale shadow. Yet, this shadowy reality still exists.

There are many people who willingly chain themselves to that wall. A refusal to admit people's nature, as those future teachers have, a refusal to accept pain, as people that run away, a refusal of the self, as so many have.

Explore your souls, folks. Look deep, drag out the secret that you are most ashamed of, and face it. Write it down and stare at it, speak it to the darkness when you are alone, but face it. When you have faced it, you will have unchained yourself from that wall, and can finally see the light.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Idealism, and watching people lose it.

This semester, I'm in a class called Health Issues in Childhood. It can be taken by any major, and is designed for education and nursing. It's a good class, lots of information, but there is one problem.


Stars in the eyes.

"I'm going to be a teacher, and all my students will love me, and they'll all be so brilliant and respectful, and, and... yeah."

Well, I'm the one non-education guy in there this semester, and the prof says I'm the one student there who isn't trapped by idealism.

Kids act out. Kids talk back. Kids don't study. Kids do drugs sometimes, or have unsafe sex, or smoke. It's the way it is, and every class period, when the stats are brought out, I see a little more of that idealism dripping away. Reality is setting in.

Before you say I'm cold for wanting to see the idealism gone, consider this...

What if I went to medical school and expected that I would never have a patient die? You'd say I was insane. Same here. Life demands that problems happen, and it seems some of these folks have made it to 20, 21, 22 years old without seeing that.

So, I just sit back on my nice fat 98% in the class, with a small smile, as I watch the future teachers of America step into life's classroom for the first time.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Just thought I'd slip another update in here, between philosophy and stories...

The EMT course fell flat. The professor was, to say the least, a pompous windbag. He spent about an hour of the first lecture ranting about college students. You see, he previously had never taught college students this course, just firefighters looking to upgrade. Since they already have practical knowledge, he had a perfect passage rate on the national exam. His first semester at Owens, he had half his students fail, a trend that has continued every semester since.

Doesn't sound bad, until you realize...

40 started.
20 had an 80% in the class by the midterm, which is enough to start field work and take the exam.
10 made it through fieldwork and passed the exam.

So 25% of those starting, passed. Ow.

After three hours of insults, conferring with other students (13 of the 18 had taken the course before and failed), and thinking about it, I dropped it. $800 is too much to gamble for a 25% shot at passing.

So, I'm back at UT. Two courses, one in Community Health, one in Childhood Disease. Great classes, and worth the money.

Now, what of the initials above? This.

An MD is the standard medical degree, offered by over 100 schools nationwide. It's what MUO and Wright offer, and is the normal route. DO is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, which takes a wider view of the body. A patient is seen not just as a bad neck or back, but also in how those nest together with everything else.

Why do I say this? Of the seven schools in the US offering only DO degrees, one is in Ohio- the Ohio University School of Osetopathic Medicine. I've applied, and feel quite good.

Now to wait and hope. I don't know where I'll be next year, nor what initials will follow my name someday, but I have a feeling this will work.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Bound with golden chains...

As a spin from Bainwen's writing about reincarnation, I figured I'd toss in mine.

Years ago, if you asked me if I believed, I'd say no. Birth, death, afterlife, that was enough. Yet, now... I've swung the other way.

Why? Flashes and bits, more than anything else.

Minutes where I truly feel as if I've been wherever I am before, even if I never have been. Brief glimpses of how things used to be- a Miakonda without paths or cabins, UT with only UHall, rising out of the farm fields, echoes of previous glories at schools who haven't been successful in my lifetime.

So I would say I've been here before. What was I in those past lives? I don't know.

But, there are those who say that my spirit is in danger with this life. In Buddhist tradition, those who dedicate their lives to service- doctors, priests, and the like- have their spirits bound to the Earth by golden chains. Why? Their purpose is to help others acheive the divine, so they cannot advance themselves.

All right.

Bring it on. I may be chained, but I've never felt so free.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Another story...

Another story, this one from when Bainwen asked me to tell a tale of heroism, the struggle between good and evil...

Many years ago, before the white man had walked the plains, there lived a peaceable tribe, one of men and women of honor pure. They traded fairly with their neighbors, never cheating of a single morsel of food, or even the tiniest member of the largest stable of horses.

Yet, there was trouble over the horizon, across a mighty river and atop a green mountain. There lived two men, one young and of great cunning and smooth speech, and one old, of great spiritual power but weak will. These men saw what the tribe had amassed and created, a life happy and safe, and envied it greatly.

They couldn't trade for such security, as they had nothing to trade. They couldn't work for it, as neither man could work. They could take it, opined the younger. Dim their eyes, dull their wits, and they could take whatever they wanted.

No. The old man was firm. They couldn't. What if there were survivors? The younger rebuked this lightly. There need be no survivors. If there were none, it was safe.

So it was sealed. As Iago dripping the poisonous thought into Othello's brain, the younger had started the older down a path that would lead to great wealth- and death.

Rituals were performed, rites offered, dark magic performed and repeated, each successive wave building on the last. The village across the river began to get sick. The strongest man to the youngest baby, each fell ill, and lay still, consumed with fever. Slowly but surely, the fevers advanced, taking victim after victim, and soon they would begin to kill.

A young shaman saw this, this evil that had befallen his village, and knew its source. In his younger years, the old crone who had taught him some of his incantations and prayers had spoken of the two men across the river. Evil lay in their hearts, she said. Evil, and the ability to bring it to life.

There, he knew what he needed do. With his wife he prayed, gathering his strength and the power of the spirits behind him. With a small bag at his side, holy sage and water inside, he traveled across the waters.

He came upon and bound the younger man, and saw what had occured. The old man had been completely consumed by the darkness, the dark power he had summoned. There was only one way he could be released, and that was for the shaman to go head-to-head against that evil. Alone. His spirit would need to walk the shadowy otherworld, and he would gamble it all. Win, and his people lived. Lose, and they died. Oh, by the way, his soul would take the place of the old man's- locked in the dark.

Lying before the fire, with a token of his totem in hand, the shaman let his spirit wander, willing it to enter that realm where the old man was trapped. His spirit met the evil within, and grappled with it. It was no contest- the evil was winning, and easily. Yet, with his last gasp, with the last bit of will and strength his spirit had, the shaman prayed.

"Wakan Tanka, tunkashila, onshimala...", it intoned. Pity me, Grandfather Spirit, so my people may live. With that prayer, begging for mercy and pity, begging for the strength of others, a light pierced the darkness. The evil was defeated, to never return. As he struggled back to wakefulness, the shaman saw a change had occured in the two men. The older man had healed, back to his normal self. The younger had been changed, and now pledged himself to service, disappearing into the wild.

On returning home, the shaman saw that his village was healing. The fevers had broken, and as he gathered his wife in his arms, he knew all was well.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Impromptu storytime!

Several weeks ago, I was watching something on the History Channel about how legends start. A few nights later, Bainwen and I were talking one night after dinner, and she asked me to tell her a story... Here it is.

You see, there are many stars in the sky, constellations, pictures of people and animals that are permanently enshrined in the heavens. There are two, though, that bear a special story.

It started many years ago, with a young boy. He lived peacefully, in a land and time untouched by the modern world, but he was troubled. His troubles were usually helped by walking through the woods, so he did. His keen tracker's eye caught a small track in the dirt, a track he had never seen.

The boy followed this track, and at the end, he found a small dragon. Friendly, and it began to follow him. When the young boy returned to his village, his new dragon friend was in tow. Of course, in an age where grasses and wood were excellent building materials, this was a mistake. After thoroughly incinerating a few small buildings, the boy and his dragon were cast out of the village, sent to the forest and away.

Through the later years, the boy grew into a man, and became quite the hunter. His dragon liked meat, after all! As the young man matured, his dragon began to learn to fly. Halting at first, but then stronger and higher. It would even consent to be ridden sometimes, as the two had learned to trust each other.

One day, when his dragon had learned to fly, powerful and strong, the young man settled on his back, and urged it to soar. Over the village they go, scaring the populace, and the man felt like a boy again- urging the dragon ever higher. Higher and higher, until the sky turned from blue, to violet, to black.

They had reached the stars, and that is where they remain to this day. Draco and Orion, the hunter and the dragon.

So confused.

Monday, the new semester starts. Yet, I am registered for precisely nothing. I found a few courses that may be useful, but then, there's the cost.


That's money I don't have. I am trying to locate a job with my EKG certificate, but as yet, the cert hasn't come back. Can't search too hard without the paper.

So what do I do? Take semi-meaningless courses for big $$$, or sit out a while as I find a job? Compounding it all, I need to keep things looking good for medical school interviews.

What in hell do I do? Confused.