Circles and Straight Lines

I got up this morning and made banana bread muffins.

This is certainly not out of the ordinary. After all, I’ve been getting up and making banana bread muffins for years now. (When one eats as many bananas as I do while having a very small “perfect banana” definition, there is a much larger banana bread window than banana eating window at chez moi.)

But one thing was different today. After I put the muffin pan in precisely the center of the center rack and set the timer, I texted Biggest.

“Making banana bread muffins and missing you.”

Making banana bread muffins with chocolate chips in some, nuts in others so as to make each child happy – these are the things that I do. And I miss my kids when they are not with me – even if they are only at school. But having to send a text to Biggest knowing he won’t eat any of his favorite muffins, that’s new.

So I sat down with a perfect cup of coffee, a still steaming muffin, and spent a little time just for me. And I thought, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Isn’t that the truth? So many changes and yet when we distill our days it always comes back to the same important things: feeding our bellies and hearts and caring for those we love.

It got me thinking about that saying, which led me to Google, and then this little tidbit: Peter Senge, the guru of Systems Thinking expressed it best: “Reality is made up of circles but we see straight lines.” Reality…what is real versus what we see. So much philosophy on only one cup of coffee!

We look for ways through these moments and see one way because perspective is paramount. How we see the world is really all about what we are open to seeing. Some of what makes us open to seeing something is our circumstance (the birdcage in Marilyn Frye’s essay on “Oppression” in Politics Of Reality – Essays In Feminist Theory (1983) comes quickly to mind), and some of our openness is due to our experiences.

But much of our openness to seeing circles versus straight lines is our emotional reaction to relationships we have or wish to have. Those emotions have so much power to make our situation better or derail it completely. Think of the last petty argument you had with someone because they didn’t do something the way you wanted them to do it…so many emotions!

Fridays are my day off and so I like to drink coffee out of my favorite mug, spend some extra time thinking about my world and sending out positive energy to the folks I care about. Today Middlest and Littlest are home with me because our school district is on strike. I’m sending out positive energy to all the teachers on strike in Washington State because I stand with our teachers – no matter how long its been since I was in the classroom, the teachers are always going to be my people. There are always two sides to an issue but in this case, I have to believe that the side I belong on is the side of the teachers who are the first defense for my kids – in learning new math skills or comma rules or if a shooter comes into the building. In this situation, I see straight lines between teachers and my kids.

40536715_10156391751591675_2899875112675180544_nI know there are circles – there always are. But today, I’m seeing the straight line between cherishing my children and the men and women who choose to care for my children like they would their own. I see this line because that was once me – I’ve always said that kids may be other people’s babies, but they are my kids. They were my kids when I was thinking about what I wanted for them in terms of skills but I also meant it in terms of always thinking about how to keep them safe from tornadoes and, at the end of my teaching career, active shooters.

The circles tell us that teachers are striking for more money. They are striking for fair wages. They are striking for having to buy their own staples and paper clips because districts don’t do right by them. They are striking for their students. Those are the circles that the teachers are picketing in. But the straight line I see, and what I wish we didn’t have to see, is that these are the people who will step in front of my child if they are ever put in the sightlines of an active shooter. And that’s a line I wish we didn’t have to see but that we do. How much is that line worth paying for? Because until we take care of what is causing school shootings, we need to care for the people who are at risk of being shot.

I wish so many things were different. But the more they change, the more they stay the same. People have been striking for improved wages, work conditions, and equity for longer than the US has been a nation. There has always been inequity between the people doing the actual work and the people in power. And as much as I hope to see an end to this truth, I know that instead we’ll continue to be caught in circles while seeing straight lines.

The more things change, the more they stay the same – circles or straight lines – it is all about our basic needs to be fed and to feed the bodies and spirits of those we love. And since I can’t feed Biggest a banana bread muffin, I’ll have to hope to feed the spirits of the teachers I care for so very much.

Stand strong!


2 thoughts on “Circles and Straight Lines

  1. “Perspective is paramount” – OMG, yes! Very much akin to my “Perception is not reality”, which seems more and more important to me as reality becomes both more difficult and more important(wait, or is it?) to accurately define.

    Teachers – been a few, and continue to be in my family and even if there weren’t any society that fails to stand well for it’s teachers simply will fail.

    Thanks for this, it seems you are still in too writing form.
    Proud to call you my friend

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