Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Busy Timmy

(He’s a big boy now)

Legend has it that I was named after the children’s book Busy Timmy, which was my big brother Tyler’s favorite book. The little protagonist, Timmy was a toddler who was becoming adept at doing tasks “All by himself” Today I went roaming on the west side of Tsenkharla Mountain along a drainage canal. This is a relatively flat walk that winds around the hillside for miles. I remember talking this stroll in winter and how spooky the setting was. Now the oak groves have come alive with lush ferns growing from mossy twisted trunks. The canal is lined with fluffy dandelion blooms waiting to be wished upon and the canopy is alive with birds, while the understory shelters crickets. I always go too far and have to walk back in the dark. The sun broke out before sliding behind a ridge, briefly illuminating farmhouses. The Kulong Chu whooshed in the canyon of god’s furry pocket. This is my Bhutan walking in solitude.

Life in the classroom is better, and I try to pat myself on the back once in awhile and also realize where I need improvement. I am seeing progress in certain students where others are content to just coast. This is the reality of a teacher. Today I read aloud the Dauntless Girl to the class and enjoyed a synergy as I tried to bring the characters to life in this ghost story. During social service club only ten of my fifty students appeared but we had a blast picking up trash. They complain a lot but some are sincere in their efforts. If I had to do it again I would only allow fifteen go getters in the club. Students from all my classes are going to Yangtse for a culture, quiz, and sports competition. This will disrupt my classes leaving me with only half my students but I am happy for the ones going. As for me I hope to take a casual day and go hunt for my last two months pay in Yangtse town. The schoolboy life remains busy for Timmy as I push on towards covering the material and preparing my students for the next grade. As for tasks I have plenty to do, “all by myself” 

It’s been an interesting year in Bhutan and as we come into the homestretch I am learning valuable lessons in and out of the classroom. There are challenges teaching here along with rewards. Overall the students have great personalities where some are better learners than others. Some students put in tremendous effort while others are prone to doze in class. My reaction to the ladder has softened as I realize the strains they are under. I have an easier time laughing at my students instead of reacting in frustration. Next mission is learning to laugh at myself. My friends continue to inspire me around the kingdom, Sabrina for opening her home to a Bhutanese teenager and Rebecca for being content in Phongmay. I can only hope that I am inspiring a few of my students. Being a teacher is a learning process and I am still adapting to the role. It takes many hours in the classroom to find ones voice. At least this is true for me. So much is learnt by trial and error and making mistakes. Oh and I have made my share of them. Facilitating the actions of 120 students each day is draining and at times exhilarating. The moments where their curiosity shines through or you can see the learning happen is the best. As a teacher it is possible to plant a seed in a student’s brain that does not blossom for years to come. A teacher must have patience and faith. I need to work on patience and I am still unsure what faith is all about except to say I need it. Having faith in myself has always been a challenge for me and I hope to learn how to enhance my belief in my abilities. Confidence and flexibility are both important and one good quality I possess is to recognize I am not an authority on knowledge rather a facilitator of the learning process for my students. Practice patience and perseverance is my mantra for my fledgling profession. My sage Aunt Mare always suggests adjusting ones perspective in difficult moments. Or put another way, stepping out of one’s self and shifting five degrees. This often makes things seem hilarious if you’re looking at the specter of yourself from an altered vantage point. For instance watching Tim lose control of a lesson is comedic as he manages to redeem himself more often than not. We all are trapped in our thought bubbles, most of the time wearing personal blinders that interfere with clarity and compassion. I am about as self absorbed as they come (another challenge) but life in Bhutan will flip up the shades for even the most egocentric. I realize that my students are all individuals with fears and dreams and it is my charge to help them towards their goals. I try to live in the grace of my benefactors who reached me here and my students who will hopefully reap their merit.


Tyler and Marty I learned from Becky that there is a purple hippopotamus atop a car wash in Munsee Indiana. She discovered this beast under circumstances similar to us. How can a car wash with a pink elephant in Seattle and a purple hippo in Munsee coexist in the same universe? Is it a random occurrence? And how many other multicolored animals atop carwashes prowl in the night? If you really want to bake your noodle, consider if I hadn’t met Becky in Bhutan I would have never known about the Hippo in Munsee to begin with. It’s all inexplicably interconnected pink elephants purple Hippos, me and you. It was great to talk to my skuzzy cuzzy and bra on the phone. I was happy to hear that you spent some quality time together on Mount Tamalpais and at Terrapin.  Life is a trade off as I give up seeing my niece and nephew, burritos, Bobby, and running water. But I gain a commanding view and 120 students. I love you guys and miss you both. Both of you sounded well and happy which is all we can hope for.  

“The wind and the willow play tea for two, the sky was yellow and the sun was blue” Scarlet Begonias

One thing Bobby has taught me through his music is that the universe is a quirky psychedelic place that must be venerated and enjoyed. Grateful Dead songs are often dark but also adorned with encrusted gleaming jewels that make it all worthwhile. A common theme threaded through the music is the mutable nature of existence therefore I think Guru Rinpoche would make a fine Deadhead. I ran into the drunken monk from Gom Kora festival who said he was on tour which was appropriate since he looked like a tour slob. I have to admit talking to my bra and cuz have made me homesick and hearing them talk about eating cheeseburgers makes my tummy homesick. At least they paused to think of me before devouring the sumptuous cow flesh, preferably with a nice dill pickle. My brain sends phantom signals to my taste buds that tease my stomach, which grumbles woe is me. All I can offer up is a colortini and some verbal pictures as they fly through the air!                

                                                             Class 7 Boys

                                                           Tsenkharla Dzong in forest

Bee and Flower

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