Advice by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
In a recent article about Jack, I mentioned that creativity is something all children possess. However, society has a means of stunting a young child's creative urge. When I was in college, my art history teacher, Louie Palmer, gave me a priceless gift. Having taken the 10-hour required The Arts in my junior year, Louie offered me the opportunity to be his teaching assistant during my senior year. I taught several sub-sections each week, and wrote and graded the midterms and finals both semesters. I benefitted from going to Muskingum College in many reasons; however, none of them surpassed being a teaching assistant in my senior year.
Two years ago, Jack, who was three at the time, asked me what I was doing on my laptop while I babysat for him one day. I told him that I was teaching an art history class, and this was a famous painting, which was on my PowerPoint online lecture. He was satisfied with my answer, toddled away only to return in several minutes, and wanted to know about another painting. Thus began an almost weekly basis of teaching a three-year-old art history. He knows dozens of paintings and the artists who painted them. He knows about sculptors like Michelangelo; he also knows that I am a sculptor. Okay, I am an amateur one attempting to match Michelangelo's expertise.
I told him that I was a philosophy major in college and had to write a term paper during my senior year about a famous philosopher. Being creative, I sculpted a bust of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, which I presented to my professor along with my paper on Teilhard.
While Jack and his younger brother, Owen, have not yet started to learn about philosophers, I assure you that they will in time. Nonetheless, Teilhard was a French theologian, philosopher, paleontologist, geologist, and a Jesuit priest. One of the things that I admired about him was that he was gifted academically in very diverse fields of academia. He was involved in working on Homo erectus pekinensis or better known as Peking Man. Peking Man lived around 680-780,000 years ago in present-day China.
Additionally, Teilhard was also enthusiastic about helping human beings in this world better to understand life and being happy. He said, "It doesn't matter if the water is cold or warm if you're going to have to wade through it anyway." Essentially, Teilhard and Abraham Lincoln said the same thing. Lincoln said, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be." Both Lincoln and Teilhard are telling us that our Weltanschauung (worldview) is up to us. Life is how we view it. It is subjective truth and not an objective truth that is seen by all people.
I have written about Randy Pausch and his Last Lecture. He gave that Last Lecture while dying from pancreatic cancer. During that Last Lecture, Pausch was more alive than anyone else in the audience. He was wading through the waters muddied by pancreatic cancer. Regardless, he was up and driven. Trust me. When you dance with death, it is transformative in a most positive way.
Now, all of us will have to wade through water in our journey through life. We will not always be on the dry journey down the yellow brick road of life. However, what each of us will determine is our response to the givens of life. Teilhard, Lincoln, Pausch, and a long list of others have discovered that we determine how we view life. The choice is ours to make. Therefore, we need to choose wisely.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.