Tag Archives: school

Quixote’s Box

QuixoteDon Quixote is a fictional character famous for fighting windmills and doing other absurd things.  His basic story is one of taking a fantasy world and trying to imprint it onto the real world.  The results are comedic for the outsider but almost tragic for Quixote himself.  As I was reading his story in college, I always pictured him sitting Indian style in his armor with a child’s toy box trying to hammer the square peg into the round hole.  It is easy to label Don Quixote as a “fool” but personally I identified strongly with the character and his trials.  Around the time that I read the book, I was on my own Quixotic adventure that put my mental image of the world into question.

I am Peter Huryk III, named after both my father and grandfather.  Due to my name, I have always identified very closely with my father.  My parents met when my mother was going through a divorce and leading life as a single parent to my older brother.  My father became the answer to her prayers.  Within a short time, he was a husband to my mother and a father to my brother.  This narrative was inside of my subconscious in college when the world offered me the perfect Quixotic situation.

At the time, I was taking a full course load in college, had a full time job and renting a townhouse with two friends.  It was then that the universe served up a perfectly ridiculous challenge to my self-image.  A young girl with two sons (2 & 1 years old) started working at the sub delivery place where I was employed.  In short order, we ended up in a relationship.  Unfortunately, the script was far more complicated than my father’s.

The custody of her children was being contested because she didn’t have a stable place for them to live.  They had been nomads between different family members’ homes.  So I took it upon myself to pay for an apartment for them.  Every problem that the world and the situation served up, I responded with my knight in shining armor script.  It made no sense but I pressed ahead anyway.  At 21 years old, I was a full time student, full time employee, renting two apartments, caring for two kids and handling it all.  Luckily the ridiculousness of the situation knew no bounds and she broke up with me.  I remember the older boy balling the day that I left.  He’d never done that before.  It was as if he knew I wasn’t coming back.  Getting into this situation was probably the worst decision of my life.  It was foolish on so many levels and could have been long term disastrous.  So it still feels odd to say that it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

In those few months, I figured out exactly who I was and what I was capable of.  The script of my father was not my own.  I needed to follow my own path for my own sake.  It also let me know that I could handle almost anything.  At 21 I had handled more weight from the world than I thought was possible.  Although it was reckless and stupid to heap it upon myself, it didn’t crush me.

The stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves are extremely important.  They, rather than conscious thought, will often make the decisions about what we will or will not do.  So my suggestion is that you get your story straight.  Who are you really?  Or better yet, who are you ideally?  If you are creating yourself (and you are), why not decide what it is that you want, need, value, love, without the interference of the world.  Then when you see your round peg, you’ll put it in the right spot and leave the square ones for someone else.

Go be you today.

Pete

Incomplete!

IncompleteEach week in fourth grade, we had a folder that contained all of our work.  On Friday, if you had everything done, the word ‘Complete’ was written on your folder and you got to do some craft or game.  If you didn’t have everything done, you received a note of ‘Incomplete’ and you needed to finish your work before getting any free time.  In the entire school year, I think that I was ‘Complete’ only twice.  It took me most of the year to finish my macrame owl due to my limited free time.  I’m quite certain that I only passed fourth grade by the skin of my teeth.  Perhaps I should have (or continue) to feel badly about my incomplete track record or tendency.  The fact of the matter is that I don’t.

Having been raised catholic, part of the prayer for the confession of sins always hit me hardest was be sorry for the things that “I have left undone”.  That’s a long list, even for the most accomplished person in the world.   There are many things that each of us leaves undone everyday.  Should this be a point guilt or shame?  Probably not.  People are not meant to be machines focused on efficiency.  We have choice and can decide what is worth doing.  That discernment of the value in activity should be exercised regularly.

The things that we choose or choose not to do are the elemental level of who we are as people.  None of us is incomplete.  Our choices may not meet with the standards of others but incomplete; NEVER!  You are what you do and the person who must set the standard is YOU.  The world is out there, waiting to see what you’ll do.  Go show it.

Make it a complete day on your terms!

Pete

 

Small Amoeba Syndrome

The life of the single celled organism, the amoeba, must be tough.  In order to survive, it needs to change its shape in order to “absorb” its food.  It is the ultimate “go-getter” in the microscopic universe.  It’s survival is completely predicated on how much and how often it “puts itself out there”.  A lazy amoeba would be a dead amoeba.

amoebaLiving in the world of higher order organisms, we are not as dependent on stretching ourselves in order to survive.  In fact over the past century we’ve been rewarded for being small amoebas.  Stretching or standing out was discouraged.  Get good grades, get into a good college, do your job and follow the rules.  Being a small amoeba is not as smart as it used to be.  The systems that rewarded the small amoeba are breaking down all over the place and we’re being asked to stretch again.

The opportunities to stretch are all around.  The problem is the same as the amoeba “Am I stretching in a direction that will help me survive?”  The trial an error method is probably a big part of the amoeba’s life and may be required of you.  This is uncomfortable.  The old system was predictable, repeatable and safe.  Even becoming a big amoeba only required adherence to the system that almost told you where to stretch.

The question is not whether the world will require you to stretch or not.  The question is whether you’ll allow yourself to be stretched, pulled apart or reach of your own volition.  Do you believe that you are a small amoeba with very defined limits?  Or are you consistently able to reach out into the void and find what you need and stretch yourself?  You are much less rigid than you think.  Most of your limits are not based on DNA but rather WTT (Willingness To Try).  The old rule book is slowly being torn apart.  You don’t need to go with it.  Reach out into the void and see what you get.  Then do it again!

Keep the Nucleus Strong!

Pete

 

Your Part of You’re Problem

ObesityIt’s Mr. Baxter from 7th grade science class that started my tendency toward being a spelling/grammar Nazi.   Two times receiving a 99.5% based on spelling errors was enough frustration to get me to pay attention.  I fully recognize that language is a fluid and live thing.  Every day we can influence it for the better or worse.  Outside of church, very few people are using “thine” and “thou”.  These words have been morphed and replaced with their more recent counterparts.  Change is not my concern.  It is laziness and apathy.

Widespread education and technological advances have democratized access to knowledge and the overwhelming response of the public has been indifference.  There was a time in this country when only a select few could hope to become educated.  The huge supply of knowledge seems to have caused an equally huge plummet in demand.  While this lowering of expectation has happened in the realm of language, it is just as obvious in personal health, civic responsibility and many other areas of life.  As the challenges of life have become easier, we seem to be less inclined to meet them head on.  Instead we have found a degree of comfort in social proof.  If “everyone else” is holding a low standard, then it makes us feel that we are OK.

What if you were the one to hold the line for yourself?  Not to tell the world that it is wrong but to do what is right for yourself and those around you.  If you held the line on your health, your marriage, your relations with people or yourself; what kind of a ripple effect could you have on your family, community or even the world?  Even if no one else took up your particular cause, how would it feel to be the answer to your own problem?  Deciding for yourself, exactly what you would and would not stand for could be liberating.  Rather than looking at those around you to find the path of least resistance, you could look inward to find the strength to hack out a new trail.  Our world is filled with more possibility and less hardship than every before, so are you going to sit there and bask in the glow of what our forefathers built?  Or are you going to do your own work?  The choice is yours!  And that is probably the biggest kicker of all, we get to choose to step up or not.

So I hope that you find within yourself a desire for better than most.  Be a leader by doing first.  Utherwhys whee May knot bee aybl two reklame wut weave lust!

Make today better.

Pete

 

 

Completely Focused On Being Scattered

In 1925 President Calvin Coolidge famously said that “The business of America is business.”  Almost a full century later, those words are still quoted often enough for it to be recognized.  Since the proliferation of the internet to most households, the pace of information exchange and communication has continued to increase almost exponentially.  The problem is that with so much information flying around, very few people are taking the time to communicate or do anything to the best of their ability.  It seems that with technology as our guide “The business of America is BUSYness.”   There is no soap box under my feet.  I am not chastising, judging or pointing a ridiculing finger.  This post is as much for me as it is for anyone who reads it.

focusDistraction is a way of life in the country at the moment.  Not only is completing tasks without getting distracted difficult but the fear of missing out (FOMO) seems to be an almost pervasive issue.  People have divided their focus between too many activities and are simultaneously getting distracted from them.  It’s a recipe for disaster no matter how you slice it.  No one can be everywhere for everyone every time.  Distraction always comes with a price tag and it is not you who is profiting.  The losses are felt by you, your family, your friends, your colleagues and classmates.  The people who are actually in your life are the ones who are missing out on a key component of their experience and that is you.  All of you, not the partial you that has a technological device in hand “JUST IN CASE!”  The cyborg version of you that cannot let go of the phone, tablet or computer has a distinct weakness, it is never fully present.

So many of our systems are built largely upon attendance but that model is at best flawed and at worst catastrophically broken. Absence, attendance, presence, engagement and immersion are very different levels of an inverted pyramid of human involvement.  While attendance is a nice start, it is just barely above absence and meets only minimum requirements.  Showing up is just not enough.  To really take full advantage of this life that you have been gifted, you must strategically move up the pyramid with the things that you have decided really matter.  And there lies the problem we must DECIDE.  Decide comes from the Latin meaning to cut off.   We must cut off the things that don’t matter in order to preserve the things that do.    Our focus needs to be cut down to that which we value most.

The only person who can win this focus battle for you is you.  Anyone can suggest, plead or punish you to do it but you do not have to comply until you choose.  In the end there are so many companies and individuals who want your focus.  It is your job to divvy it out as you see fit or scatter it without a care.  Where you put your focus determines your life.  If you decide to immerse yourself in Facebook, that is your choice and far be it from me to judge.  As long as it is a decision and not a resignation to the world of distraction.  Choose what you want for yourself before others choose for you.

Pete

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.  -Theodore Roosevelt

Sit Down and Shut Up

SitdownSometimes it is directly said and sometimes it is an expectation.  Much of our education system has been working with this paradigm for decades.  The idea is that sitting down and being quiet leads to better grades, more retention, better students and better employees.  In all honesty, I don’t truly have a problem with the idea of sitting down and shutting up provided that there is also an opportunity to stand up and make a ruckus.  This opportunity to SUMR used to happen outside of school but most activities are now adult driven.   In a recent interview, I was asked “why do you think teens are so stressed today?”  The answer to the question is relatively simple but the resolution is much more complex.

The simple answer is expectation.  The modern teenager has been thrust into a world of paradoxical expectation.  For years on end, kids today are taught that the secret to survival is to sit down, shut up and follow directions.  Those who learn these lessons are lauded for a few years until they reach a point where they need to make their own decisions.  At that point, they are expected to know how to use their judgement but that faculty has never been exercised and is therefore weak.  Those who rebel against the SDSUFD model are labeled as troublemakers and given fewer opportunities for advancement.  They see that the system doesn’t like them and they don’t care for the system either.  Systems are only valuable as long as they work.  SDSUFD only partially works and needs to be adjusted.

Humans were built for action.  We were meant to fly!  Unfortunately the mixture of old systems and new circumstances have clipped our wings or made us believe that we have none.  We’ve been made to believe that we are supposed to wait for someone else to tell us what to do.  That we are supposed to be more robotic, more efficient and less emotional.  This is completely contrary to everything that human beings are.  We are animals that are most efficient when our emotions are in line with our objectives.

So what does this mean for each of us?

If you are a teenager, you need to balance your daily SDSUFD with SUMR.  You need to have an outlet, either mental, physical and/or emotional that you choose.  Begin the process of getting your hands onto the steering wheel of your life.  You’re most likely not ready to have full control of your life yet but you should not be in the backseat either.

If you’re in your twenties or older, take a hard look at your life and decide how much of your life belongs to you.  This is not a call to buck all authority or burn every bridge in your life.  It is a call to more action for your own betterment.  Sometimes that action will be that you need to “sit down, shut up and listen”.  Then you need to stand up and act on what you’ve heard.  Step forward and take your role as the star of your own TV show.  If you are playing a secondary role in someone else’s show, then you need to rewrite the script.

Take today as if it belonged to you because truly it does.

Pete

The Path Is Broken

Appalachian TrailEach year my brother and I go for a hike on the Appalachian Trail.  It is one of my favorite times of the year.  It’s an awe-inspiring thing.  The trail is only a few feet wide but it is over two thousand miles long.  The path is usually easy enough to follow because lots of people hike it each year.  This past spring we hiked our normal section in reverse.  Due to an overflowing stream, we ended up on the wrong trail for a while.  Eventually we were able to get back to the AT but first we had to get our bearings and hiked some new ground with new sites.  Hiking the AT is a great experience that I’ve enjoyed a lot.  It’s not the only path and it’s not the path for everyone.

While hiking the AT is great, it is a horrible path to be on if you’re trying to get to Ohio.  As I prepare for another year in the classroom, I wonder how many of our paths are broken.  We have constructed so many procedures, social norms and belief systems.  It seems as though many of them are broken or breaking.  The 20th Century American Human had a pretty clear cut set of guidelines for his or her “success”.  Money, fame, power, and possessions were indicators of “success”.  Perhaps they still are but I don’t know that the old paths still lead to those desired ends.  The fact that we have been going down these paths for generations will be little consolation to the young people who end up lost on “the right path”.

Perhaps what we need now is a compass and a machete rather than a path.  The future is an uncertain thing.  Following the well-worn path may still get you to its historical end but it may help more to question the path.  Is this the right path for you?  At bare minimum the question and the decision to follow or not puts your life into your own hands.  In the end that’s where it should be anyway.  If you follow in everyone else’s footsteps and don’t like where you end up, then you made the mistake, not the path.

Find your True North and follow it this week.

Pete