Every month is a new adventure of discovery when I send out the Nobull Peace Prizes. This month I’ve chosen three people who are discovering values and principles in their lives and sharing those with the world. I find each of them inspiring.
I first became aware of Ben Hewitt when I ran into his article “We Don’t Need No Education” published in Outside Magazine. I think I stood up and cheered as I continued to read right beneath the title, “At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The alternative: set ’em free.”
A bit later in the article he says, “There’s a name for the kind of education Fin and Rye are getting. It’s called unschooling, though Penny and I have never been fond of the term. But ‘self-directed, adult-facilitated life learning in the context of their own unique interests’ doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so unschooling it is.”
I’d never heard of the term unschooling before but instantly recognized the reality of the educational model. When we are engaged by our fascination with the earth and culture around us, natural curiosity makes play out of learning. We inhale knowledge because it is drawn to fill the context of the need to be the active creators of our lives. We love doing. I was one of those who rejected ‘mandatory education’ while being indoctrinated that it was freedom. That’s oxymoronic. I had to learn to pursue my own areas of interest generally without parental or social support.
Ben and Penny’s children get to learn with the support system of nature, their parents, friends and neighbors and the Internet when necessary. That brings me to another point. The family unit of self-sustaining humans is the foundation of any healthy civilization. The Hewitt family exemplifies this independence, strength of character and spiritual well-being in their lives. Healthy independence is the ground upon which our greater societal interdependence must be built.
Ben also happens to be a fine writer who shares practical tips and philosophical musings about creating a nourishing homestead for body, mind and spirit. Please visit his web site and buy one of his books, perhaps “The Nourishing Homestead” or “Home Grown” directly from him. Here’s where you go…
Millie Mestril has recently made a huge splash on my spiritual event horizon, so to speak. She creates a blog of essays, poetry and graphic images with brief thoughts that I think of as sight-bytes of wisdom. On the about page of her blog she says, “Friends and family suggested that I start a blog to add my daily inspirations, essays or poetry. With much anxiety at first and a zest to venture out of my comfort zone, I decided to create this blog. I am writing from the mountains of Western North Carolina, 20 miles east of Asheville. My best friend and I bought a small motel in Gerton, NC in hopes to turn it into a retreat center for all who wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of their lives. Our place is called Peaceful Quest Retreats.
I first discovered Millie’s writing last spring when I read “Finding Faith”. My internal lyricist was captivated by these opening lines.
“Lately I’ve been feeling like I am on the Bipolar Expressway and most of the exits loop around Crazy Town. So I mindfully begin my mornings with an hour of prayer and/or meditation. I cannot miss a day or I begin to feel ungrounded.”
She segued from that evocative introduction to a spiritual perspective that rang with the clarion call of Truth earned through experience. I was entranced and began to read everything she offered on her site, “Moments With Millie”. There you can discover a whole series of essays rooted in personal experience that led to profound realizations. In sharing these Millie is casting a light on those aspects our mutual spiritual paths that deserve regular bursts of illumination.
To appreciate some of Millie’s other artistry you really need to take fifteen seconds to read this exquisite gem of poem, “Humanness”. Then look at this sight-byte, Purpose of Your Life. If you find yourself as entranced as I you can purchase a collection of her blog posts entitled, “A Soul’s Peaceful Quest: Lessons from the Path”.
Once again please visit Millie’s blog, Moments With Millie, here…
Q. When is a writer about values and truth not a spiritual teacher?
A. When his teaching is unselfconsciously practical and his name is David Cain.
I’ve linked many of David’s essays in my Theoretics Forum. Some of them admittedly may initially seem like preaching to the choir when my glance is superficial. Every time I ponder his point of view I discover it is original and fascinating. Take, for example, the essay entitled, “All You Need Is Love, Seriously” You might jump to a clichéd assumption and you’d be wrong. Here’s a one paragraph tease. After proclaiming some embarrassment over the aged truism coined by John Lennon, David suggests.
“Love is all about creating more well-being with your actions. I gave one example of this in “How to Be a Good Stranger“. It’s a nearly-perfect technique for handling grating encounters with strangers, such as when you’re trapped behind a slowly-moving person on a sidewalk. The moment you notice you’re feeling ill will towards a stranger, decide that you will help this person if they need it. Whatever annoyance they’re creating for you, decide that if this person trips and falls, you’ll help them up. If they look lost, you’ll offer directions. If someone harasses them, you’ll step in.”
See what I mean? David’s take on reality is always different enough to keep me open for something new. Often I learn and adopt his point of view for my own. I never thought like that before and suddenly I have a whole new practical strategy for living. In fact that echoes David’s description of his work. The tag line of his blog is “Getting Better at Being Human”. His description of the work is “Raptitude is a street-level look at the human experience. I write about what school never taught us: how to improve your quality of life in real-time.”
Let me give you one more example of my enthusiasm for his work. I learned an entirely new skill from his essay “A Brief Guide to Recreational Time Travel”. No matter what you might imagine just from that title, the chance that you could begin to guess the profound concept buried within its paragraphs is vanishingly small. I’m not even going to try and tell you what I learned. Just go read it. Yep the title just above is a link.
Droning on and on about various essays such as “Your Life is Always Just Beginning” or “What inner peace actually is” might turn some off and inadvertently be a disservice to a marvelously original thinker and writer. So please go to Raptitude and see if you aren’t as keen as I about David’s work. Then subscribe to his email list so you don’t miss out.