When I was very young Mom would say; “Ira you are in the Right Place.” With the particular situation I was facing at the moment I was not quite sure that where I was standing seem to be in the “Right Place.” This being so the fact that Mom said so being as wise as I saw Mom to be I accepted what she told me as a truth. As I grew older I would hear her say the same thing; “Ira you are in the Right Place.” I still had a lot of trouble with her statement although the statement did pick me up. The fact that Mom said so did make me feel better able to face up to the problem at hand.
What I did know at that time was, that what Mom was saying she believed to be a truth. This was the way this very strong lady who in a very short time lost three sons and a husband handled life. What ever was the situation Mom had very strong beliefs. She emphatically believed that every event faced and dealt with during our lifetimes had long-lasting effect on who we were and who we became. I found strength although I had little idea how what seemed to me as the place I was standing in was deep sh –. I found comfort in the wisdom of my Mother.
Mom’s statement has throughout my life remained with me, and over the years I have given a lot of thought to it. As the years went by, and I faced many things in life that I had not expected to happen or planned on I began to better understand that I was and am in the “Right Place.” This was not so because of some great wisdom that I found. It came about in a most natural manner. I now feel that I am in the “Right Place,” and that I did come to understand that I as Mom had said was always in the “Right Place” although perhaps not always knowing that I was.
After I retired and started to sub teach at high schools at Indianapolis, Indiana, and rural areas I found that I wanted to pass what Mom had told me to be an important truth onto my students. As I have written as a child when Mom made such a firm statement of fact I accepted her statement because she was Mom. With my student they had no reason to accept any thing I said although being in school they had to by law put up with me as weird as they may have found me to be. What I needed to do for them is to get them to at least think about the premise I put before them. I had to find a simple graphic explanation for them to discuss and perhaps consider.
As a teen and a young man I am able to recall that in so many cases my actions stood in my way from taking full advantage of Mom’s wisdom. Ego was the greatest road block for me to over come. Next was a bad temper and anger. The ego problem I believe as I look back on my early years was brought about by having so much difficulty early in school. The ego became a cover up for me, and I demanded of myself that I at least make an all out effort to always win, and to be the best at what ever I attempted to do. The anger came about because no one is best at every thing. By attempting to be so one sets himself up to fail. The anger was mostly directed at myself for failing. The temper as I have written about in other “Thoughts” I see as a sickness. They all got in my way and caused me unhappiness.
With all the above said I feel comfortable in that I was never a malicious person. When working with young people I had a desire to save them some of the difficulties that I made for myself. The difficulties that seem to go along with getting through the teen years. I did not really believe that I could with all the effort that I could put forth free them of my past mistakes, and the ones that teens are real good at finding for themselves. My desire was just to perhaps plant a seed or two of thought with them during the short time that I had them in my classroom. They would have to if the seed was planted water it themselves.
As a sub it is important that you follow the lesson plan that the regular teacher has left with you. Most time that plan was some sort of busy work that was left by the regular teacher in an attempt to fill the time span that the sub spent with the class so that the students didn’t kill one another or the sub. Most cases the sub because of this became a baby sitter for an hour or two. This I refused to do. I followed the lesson plan left for the class getting this busy work out of the way as quickly as possible. When this was done the rest of the class room time was spent if at all possible in open conversation. These young people were being taught in most cases to pass tests. As I saw it they spent little or no time with concept thinking.
I was not always successful getting the students to think out of the box, but most times some of them did. The class would pick a subject that most times would not be discussed within the regular classroom. Some times I would bring up the topic myself allowing the students to take it where they might desire to.
One thing that I stayed away from during these classroom discussions was preaching at my students. I used a Socratic means of conversation, and by answering questions with further directed questions allowed the class to form their own conclusions. I had learned long before if you tell someone about a topic they may accept what you inform them about, however if you by the use of Socratic conversation lead them by asking questions to questions they will own the conclusions that they arrive at.
I know for a fact that this method of concept thinking did get across to some in the classroom. The reason that I can say this is that long after I stopped teaching I would from time to time by chance meet a student that I had had in one of my classes. Most times they would find me while I was shopping. They would find me in an isle at Waltmart and greet me by name. The interesting thing about this was that as a sub I might have had them in only one class for a single class session. As a sub you teach where you are needed, and most times teach the same student only a few times. This being so when these past students stopped me to talk they would bring up the subject matter that had come up in the classroom perhaps two or three years before. One time as I was speaking to a young lady who had found me at Walmart her mother looking for her entered the isle that we were at. I started to introduce myself only to be stopped by the mother who knew my name and told me that she had some very good conversations concerning the topic discussed in class with her daughter. I must admit that my ego was built that day, but more important was the fact that this young lady was watering the seed that was planted in class years ago.
What I would do in class was recite my mother’s statement to the class, and color the statement with a story concerning my mother telling me; “Ira you are in the Right Place. I might then ask them where the “Right Place” is. And go on to ask do you think there is such a place. The response from the class would most times be yes there might be, or no there is not such a place. After allowing them to knock this around among themselves I would say let me show you where such a place is and how you are there.
I would draw a line on the black board of about three or four feet long. I would next at the center of the line draw an X. I would tell the class that the X is them. A few inches on both sides of the X I would make a slash mark on the line. I would explain to them that this small area on this line stands for a point in your life. This area being a very small part of the whole and in turn only a small part of reality. At either ends of the long line I would place an arrow pointing away from the center of the line. I then explained to them that to the left of slash marks are what we see and feel as well as understand concerning the various situations that we find ourselves in during our life time. I would tell them that this where we believe ourselves to be which is most limited and unreal.
I next would point to the center of the line, and above the X place a circle. I then would tell the class that if it were possible for them to lift themselves above the situation that they are in and see the real whole of the situation that they were finding themselves in they would be looking at true reality. From the point on the line of the X, what they think the see and know they would believe that they are in the wrong place. However looking back and forward in time they could come to the conclusion that no matter how bad the present situation may seem to be they were in reality in the Right Place. The experiences gained from this point in life would be many. Lessons learned could not have been learned as well any other way. Actions taken then or in the future would come about because of the situation that they were finding themselves in. Time spans may be quite different for different individuals, yet each will become stronger over time because of the situation that at that particular point of life that may seem to be anything but the “Right Place. The conclusion is that that X which is them is in the “Right Place.”
In a very short time I will be 84 years of age. I now live a very simple and quiet life in a very stoic manner with various health problems, yet I can unequivocally and categorically state that I am in my “Right Place.” If over the past I had not found myself in situations that seemed to me to be placing myself in the wrong place I would have never found the place that I now live in. Each day no matter what it brings to me is now more productive and enjoyable with this knowledge. Mom as always you were right.