The stream of warm impermanence? OR The Philosophy of David Bowie

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The song that was considered to be David Bowie’s North American debut in 1971 is “Changes.” I’m one of those who can insert song lyrics into any conversation… so whenever I hear or think of the word CHANGES, I immediately hear “ch-ch-ch-ch – changes… turn and face the strange… changes… time may change me… but you can’t trace time.”  I hope you just heard the song in your head. If you did, try to remember the second verse. Bowie sings, “I watch the ripples change their size but never leave the stream of warm impermanence; so the days float through my eyes, but the days still seem the same…” Interesting. Never leave the stream of warm impermanence.

I heard a story once about boiling a frog. If you try to put the frog into boiling water, it will jump out immediately; however, if you put the frog in tepid water and very gradually turn up the heat, it will get used to the heat, stay, and die. Wow. Ok, what’s that all about? I think the point was that we don’t notice things changing around us until it is too late to do something about it.

The old cliche says, “The only thing permanent is change,” which as a middle-aged adult, I know to be true; however, the youngins seem to have trouble accepting this fact of life.

The ages of my two children are 25 and 23. Many of the people I spend my time with these days are also in their early twenties… so I’ve seen the memes on FaceBook and I’ve heard the laments that say, “I don’t want to ADULT any more!” or “Don’t grow up; it’s a trap!” a few times. Changes.

Where am I going with this? Random thoughts today… When I think of changes, I am always reminded of my students… especially my freshmen and seniors. My freshmen need to leave middle school behind and become high school students who take responsibility for themselves and their learning. My seniors need to prepare for the huge change facing them – graduating, leaving home, college, job… life. When they whine about being kids and wanting more responsibility and getting out of school, I say, “Enjoy it now… Life is harder than school.” Years later I hear that I was right… what do you know?

Fellow teachers, we are their guides through so many changes of life at every level – from those adorable, little kindergartners who are entering our classrooms to the handsome seniors who are leaving them – we have been where they are. We need to help them to wake up and see the changes in themselves and embrace them!  Life is exciting!  Learning is exciting!  Changes are exciting! Get them out of the “stream of warm impermanence” or the frog’s tepid water – splash some cold water on their faces, drop an ice cube down their backs and say, “This is it! This is life! Learn something! Do something! Be something!… and Let’s do it together!”

I’m getting excited about the coming school year.. I hope you are too!