Thursday, August 30, 2012

Smashing Idols

We love to reduce things to a common denominator. Icons, those images we tend to put on pedestals from St. Francis through Marilyn Monroe to Frank Zappa are as fragile as our imaginations. Given our modern age of multitudes easily to be admired and just as easily stripped of prestige and popularity, we easily can be dissuaded. Martin Luther, Jesus Christ, The Buddha, Gandhi, Rock Hudson, Michael Jackson, or Bill Clinton, we invade their lives with our questions and prying eyes and see them for what they are, were, and perhaps think they ought to be, a person. And because that person is seen in the revealing light of more completeness, we see them more and more to be just like us, good, yes, but full of flaws and lies and insecurities and vulgarities and ambitions and pretensions and hate and lust and greed and ignobility. Oh what a work of art is man! We see them for their talent and perhaps retain a respect for their exceptionality too, but their fundamental connection to being human reduces the awe history once had for the revered. We are no longer quite so blind to the hysteria and the hype and the projection and the elevation. History itself becomes malleable. We want our icons to be real.

There is great potential in transparency. We may learn less to be swayed by examples than by our autonomous insight. Clinton had great potential. Gandhi's personal life was never so revealed until the researchers came along to despoil him. What deceptions of morality did Moses, the Pharaoh, King Richard, or Mother Theresa perpetuate? There are now documentaries that would descry their sainthood. That Robin Hood was a thief, killed the Sheriff's men (who were the sons of mothers and fathers), that he beguiled, lied, cheated, and manipulated is all part of the mythology of the man who also captured our imagination with 'all for one and one for all'; or were The Musketeers absolved from such perjury? Which of us is so above the essence of being human that we are not indeed everything, to whatever degree we practice or think or entertain our thoughts and actions? Perfection is not possible. Who is unleavened? We adjust by virtue of the lessons, and we aspire to more and more awareness of the need to be less selfish, one hopes, as a result of being alert to the mistakes in ourselves, and a witness to the errors of others. Compassion arises more out of a sense of 'been there, done that' than it does from being in arrogant judgement and condemnation of those who perpetrate moral misdeeds and actions that we ourselves 'would not even think of, let alone do'. Which of us never, ever, even thought to steal from the cookie jar? Those of us who never-ever actually stole a cookie can hardly have compassion for he who did. And does it really take only having done it oneself, like killing someone, before we may have compassion for the murderer? It is not easy to forgive, unless we first forgive ourselves.

Einstein would have it that we be not responsible for the thoughts that enter our head, only the ones we entertain. Many a person, reading a biography on Einstein, the real man, may feel iconoclastic toward him too. Throw the baby out with the dishwater! But we grow in the very soil of our experimentation, our upbringing, our participation in life that so produces the flowering of our enlightenment, our perspicacity, our intuition, our intentionality, and our potentiality; fertilizer is necessary for the healthiest of plants. And so may we entertain our thoughts carefully, least we think ourselves so pure as to reduce others to drivel in the very process of moral judgements and great expectations.

Our Iconoclastic Age is at issue. We can tear down, or see us all as Just One. Hmm?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


There are so many. Friends become brothers, sisters. Much younger ones become sons, daughters. The feeling is natural. Love expects nothing tangible in return, but certainly feels reciprocation, or not. Yet many others have tried to befriend me, and I too have tried to befriend them, but some chemistry just does not work. I try to determine if that not-so-right feeling is just my being judgmental, or my being too this or that, but I have enough friends across the whole spectrum of differing physical, temperamental, and achievement types to know that no specific criteria applies. There is some magical component that simply allows for friendship, a reciprocal love, or not. And there are very few people indeed, especially at my age, that I actively dislike. For you too? As a friend recently put it, "I remind myself to look for that bit of the good in each and everyone."

Jung would have it that those without brothers (or as for me misses brothers and a sister) will have this shadow-side that is more open to making non-relational others substitute for brothers or sisters. Yet more complex, should one feel they are betraying the love of an absent brother, some may purposefully eschew feelings of brotherly love for a friend. Some, if they do not like their siblings, will not easily like others in their stead, or will like others even more for the lack of familial love. And so on. We are complex creatures. And without examining and re-examining our senses, our very instincts, we can be afraid to pick up grass snakes, simply because they look as dangerous as any other of the same image. Most of us just go about liking or disliking each other at whim. And some of us feel at one time great affection for someone, but at other times hardly anything at all. We are creatures of time and circumstance, needs and wants, sensations and feelings. And the vast majority of us, the research would have it, just couldn't be bothered with having a look into the wherefores and why-for of much of it all. As Sanchez sings, "I like him, I really like him! He's me mate, me chum, my bro, my main man and that's..." a story with a different tune, until you disinterest him.

Accord is the thing! We glance into another's eyes and almost immediately there is a sense of kismet, or not. For you too? And some of us have not seen each other in years and years and it makes no never mind; we instantly feel genuine and connected, while with some, just some, there is a hesitancy, a stand-offishness, as though one has to prove oneself before being accepted again. Expectations tend to lead toward that last set of circumstances. But being entirely open and unconditionally accepting removes such barriers. Still, one wonders if you'll like A's new life choice, B's new habit, C's new convictions, or D's intended new spouse. And so the separation of common interests and the past from the present can begin. Staying connected can at times be an effort.

But brothers and sisters and sons and daughters, especially if taken for granted in the nicest sense of the phrase, are always there. They open up a door to you after several months or more of absence and instantly you know you're at home with the person. The listing here of my friends would be at a risk to leave someone out. I am deeply grateful for the privilege of such connections, for the trust we give each other. It matters not that we have not written, have not acknowledged birthdays, have not shared. The love is in those moments of sharing time, of connecting, of seeing into each other's eyes. Always.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Pompous Pronouncements

"But I hate the Olympics! All that one-upmanship. How do you integrate that?" The speaker is agitated. The voice is argumentative.

I am at pains not to appear pompous, and try the following:

"Integration does not mean condoning, nor even having to like, but accepting. If everything exists, already is, and may probably always exist, then integration is the acceptance that it is so; it is the exercise of preferments within the process. So we accept that there are the worst things as well as the best, and we evaluate with non-attachment, as opposed to having attitudes of arrogant-judgement, as we progress. We do what we can to keep the fox from the hens, the murderer off the streets, but we do so with compassion for what is, no matter what."

He looks up. He is unconvinced. "You still get angry."

"Yes. We are everything. But I am trying to become more and more responsive and less and less reactionary. No doubt I shall be learning that for the rest of my life, for reaction is natural, deep, atavistic."

"You and your big words."

"Ha! Interesting, aren't they? Atavistic is ancient-history, deep in the bones, in the genes. It often is reactionary, based on our enculturation, our family, parents, and our own habits of upbringing. It is the way the untrained and inexperienced react quite naturally to every snake; it takes reexamining our fears and our attitudes and our perceptions before we can reach out and pluck up a grass snake. So too for very many reactions we have about a lot of things; we learn them as we grow up. Racism, hate, attitudes, exclusionary group values, arrogant-judgements, expectations that are..."

"But if we didn't compete we would not have winners and losers, the better than, the richer and the poorer, the advantaged and the disadvantaged. Life is just not fair!"

"Yes. Life is not fair. Accepting that much will go a long way toward being able to allow things to be. One may wish to change things for the better, to contribute toward the health of the whole, to stop the evil and the hurtful, to cauterize the malignant and the diseased; but to have compassion for it all, as a primary response, is the reason for practicing integration, of accepting life just as it is, while nurturing its potential."

"Potential? See, something is always good or bad, right or wrong, better or worse. And I hate things that don't try to make things better for us, all of us, that drag us down."

"Then that hate will make itself felt. And that too is as it is."

"You mean you're accepting hate? My hate? Is that being integrative?"

I nod. And smile. But how am I received? I sense he thinks I'm pompous. Oh well. Ha!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Existential Predestination

Predestination has its inevitability. If the baby does not stop its crawl toward the top of the staircase it will most likely fall. So too for the tip, the slip, the oops, and the oh-no! But for life to GIVE you lessons? My sense is that lessons arise out of situations, and that unless learned the situation is likely to arise again and again, quite naturally, until sufficient insight on my part sustains me from me yet again making the mistake. So too have I learned vicariously through others' errors: one does not want to go that route! But that some omniscient omnipotent force is actually involved enough in the tiny little specific and precise 'me' sufficient enough to manipulate the very cosmos, let alone the energy around me in order entirely to teach me, just me, a lesson? Well...

You may have plenty of examples where you think a greater force, being, God Himself, was on hand just for you. Many an angel has visited me. I am often astounded at the timing of my needing a door opened and some stranger just happens along to assist. I am often delighted at the synchronicity of energies surrounding things where friends pitch up at the right moment to help out, where an unexpected person arrives and is there to rely on, depend on. Theatre, in particular, has given me many an angel along the way, whether it be the perfect stage manager, producer, actor, costume, set builder, choreographer, or Sean Anderson. Appreciation runs deep for commensurate energies.

But today we leave on a 15+ hour drive to Calgary. My wife is naturally anxious. She has a broken foot. I get cataract surgery in six weeks. We both are exhausted. And we have a timeline to keep (which is a better phrase than deadline, ha!) At issue is the meaning and import of 'predestination'. Even between that last period and right now as I type, some five hours has transpired. I am on the ferry from Victoria, awaiting departure. In the meantime we have seen the contractor, sorted and packed and run some errands and waited 45 minutes at the ferry terminal to board. Fate would have it that whatever happens happens. Yet we administer life by so many variables in the timing of our lives, creating a scenario that puts us at one address rather than another, on this ferry rather than some other, at that point on the highway as opposed to yet some other. And indeed, whatever happens happens, no matter how much we are prepared. So if we avoid an accident, the fatalist will say it was meant to be; so too should we incur one, unfortunately. In that sense, we are indeed in the hands of Fate. Yes? But to think it predestined? To think that the black bear we may see alongside the highway was ordained by God to be at that exact spot just as we arrived for the perfect snapshot, or worse? What if it bolts into our car? What if...? God help us! Ego's claim can be strong!

Que sera sera, the song goes. It's about making something of the moment as opposed to the moment being made especially for me. When the whale jumps, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite thing is to make meaning of the moment or else let the moment make meaning of me. A tune gone wrong? Either way, that the coincidences of life should be called predestined? Well now, that seems to me like really begging the question. So many people aboard this vessel, on that aircraft, in that building, hurtling along that road. Take care! As for fate, just who do I think I am?

Stuff and Nonsense!

The gulls call, and the sound of the surf on the rocks below slowly scrubs at the dawn. A cruise ship is materializing on the horizon and I shall take a photo of it when there's enough light. Yet another souvenir? I sit here up on the fourth floor surrounded by unpacked boxes and by the workman's tools and by the drywall pieces and broken studs of our renovation. Organized chaos is the term. But we are getting there, if 'there' be the settled place sufficiently to read, write, paint, play music, entertain.

Stuff seems to take up so much of life, especially when one moves. And every time we've gotten rid of stuff we've needed to acquire yet more. The place we just left is going to be rented out fully furnished, right down to the wine-opener and toilet brushes, which means this one we've just moved into needs that sort of stuff purchased too. And both places needed complete cleaning, behind fridges, stoves, laundry machines, door lintels, barbecues, and wall patching and painting and...

When is enough 'enough'? Having renovated so many times in my life (my interior self as well as geographical properties, ha!) I can appreciate the feeling of leaving a place better than one found it. Even rented apartments were always left cleaner, spiffier, more shelf-lined, stove scrubbed, walls painted, better blinds or curtains or linoleum or cleaner carpets than I found them. Not bragging, just explaining. So what is it in oneself that cannot just move in 'as is', but seeks to change and nest and 'make a place one's own'? Or do we? I've several friends, particularly of the younger variety, who take little or no personal pride in their nest. And some of them have very few possessions too. No attachment to stuff means they have no library, no music collection (before the days of iTunes, that is), let alone an assortment of souvenirs wrestled from place to place as proof of having 'been there, done that'. What do I do with my very many theatre plaques and trophies; hang them up yet once more in my studio? Even when I had them hung I don't recall anyone actually bothering to take any time to see. As for me? Been there!

Those of us who were impoverished as children find a certain comfort in now having things on a shelf. Certainly that is what books and Record Albums (CD's) do, have done for me. On the last move, a year ago, I sold off some 2,500 plus items. But a lot of the stuff stills ticks in my mind. Yet I am learning to let go. Yet ego, the self, the collector, the without, the must have, the need, the want, the desire, the gotta-get-it persists in its guises. Oh, occasionally I'll relent and purchase something on Amazon, or on iTunes. How else do I get 'Renaissance sings Renaissance', an album of Annie Haslam tunes I'd once seen but never found again? Or what about Anna Maria Alberghetti? No second hand record store (never mind a new one) had ever located a copy of her 'Fala Na Na' lullaby for me, so I had her CD shipped from Japan! Worth it. Quite the singer to hear!

Stuff can own us. I guess the ability to let it all go if the house burns down, or if it be burgled, or should it break and need to be tossed, makes the difference. Meantime, especially if one had been impoverished in childhood, there is a deep sense of appreciation for having something, for seeing it there on the shelf for reference in the mind and heart. I remember as a child seeing the very sour-dour looking face of a man behind a Jaguar, and thinking that he does not deserve the car. Hey! Appreciate stuff!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Penelope Personified

Something magical happened. I found Penelope! Yes, she's consistently been with me for over 30 years now, but I had to wait until last month actually to meet her. In Denver! Well, yes, back in 2010 the facsimile of a Penelope did materialize on stage, but for one night only. She wore a gay costume of beige, purple, red, blue, orange and the green of spiral dynamics. She sported a false set of sparkling auburn pigtails. She spoke with a voice that squeaked in falsetto, yet sank at the oddest moments to a bass. Ha! Theatre friends and I were delighted. Jay Newman, hairy arms and legs, the dark shadow before the next shave, played her brilliantly, just for me! Along with her came a retirement  retrospect of a lifetime of my theatre productions. Penelope, that night, came alive!

Imaginary, multi-aged, always with me through my teaching years, Penelope was the inveterate substitute for any and every student. Introduced as my daughter in whom I am unconditionally proud, in whom every right and wrong can be ascribed, she would sometimes become a Percy, if the occasion warranted, but seldom. Having never taught  anyone by those names, I was always safe. Besides, I rather liked the classical allusion. Many a student has made the effort to find out why I chose a Penelope as a daughter, invisible though she be. It delights me when someone does the research.

But in Denver last month, presenting on Spiral Dynamics and Psychogeometrics, I held my arm around Penelope and introduced her to the Dabrowski Symposium attendees. A shuffle downright alerted me as a pretty young lady recognized her. Their eyes locked. And next she looked at me. So I simply adopted her, this 44 year old with her happy husband, two daughters, and a dog. A visiting professor of psychology was there at our meeting table next day, all the way from the Netherlands. He understood. He approved. Yes, it was clear. Ha! And my newly found daughter's name was not yet Penelope at all!

That there should be so much accord between a father and likeminded daughter goes without saying. In Jungian terms the shadow is not necessarily dark at all, but rather is that B Side of one's personality that looks for fulfillment. So, as a childless man, it is natural that I would call some students 'son', and that they, finding perhaps too much grief with their own fathers, would call me 'pop' or some such. Many a 'daughter' in my years of teaching has done likewise. They even created a Penelope on Facebook. Once graduated some wrote, but then their tenor of daily domesticity, they discovered, predominated, and so the letters dissipated. Boys and girls of all ages have been a privilege to teach, but those who demonstrate a willingness to question absolutely everything beyond an interest in knowledge, and a care for understanding everything in ongoing perpetuity out of a commensurate wish to contribute to the health of the whole, to be integrative, wholistic, and inclusive as possible within the bounds of decency, common sense, ethics, honesty, and truthfulness, have had gleams in their eyes of reciprocation, intention, and a comfort with me on the path of being a fellow traveller. Never, far as I can tell, has any harm been done, though I suspect several of them would have liked me to take a more secular interest in their material concerns. And yes, a parent or two would rather that their child had simply just stayed in a church. But until now none of my students have so unconditionally understood them-self to be Penelope.

Until now, Daughter Dear. Penelope, this one's for you!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stones to Throw

Boys love to toss stones. Girls somewhat too. But watch a boy beside the lake, the pond, the seashore, the river or stream, and it is as if some deep nature within him cannot but make quick little circles around the shoreline. He snuffs out the prefect lob-weight, picks the thing up from the bank, and cannot but hurl it as far as he can into the wild wetness of unknown fathoms.

Except for the two stones that a friend gave me; I choose not to throw those away.

Colorado has a rocky mountain height that looms large in memory. Different from the Canadian Rockies, the mountains there are like massively piled up cake crumbles in the blistering heat. One gets driven through them at an altitude so far from sea-level that in the heat of day the blood boils, and headaches and stars in the eyes are only somewhat alleviated by the air-conditioned cabin of the Honda Pilot, that, and the caring attention of a friend who knows there is not much else to be done, besides copious amounts of cool water, except to let the body adjust while he skillfully negotiates the sharp turns and the many climbs and the several switchbacks and the very hot middle of July traffic.

There is a promontory overlooking the ranges that shall always stay in my memory. It is not the glorious view from the very expensive restaurant that overlooks Longmont, nor is it the view over a distantly gleaming Denver from Buffalo Bill's gravesite. It is a place unlikely to be found by the tourist, the casual passerby, or even the locals. It was a gravel deke-out from the road, probably created by a long-time ago construction crew, and it afforded us privacy from the traffic, and after a short little walk through the trees, it yielded a stupendous view out over the valley. I sat there on a rock and breathed deep. But as wonderful as was that respite, it was not there that the two stones of which I write were given to me. They came later in the day. Or was it perhaps even the next day?

Being hosted by my friends just before I was to do my highfaluting presentation in Denver was a magically acclimatizing experience. No detail was overlooked toward my comfort. No sparing of generosity of thought and consideration was withheld in the many considerations of my needs, given the business of my pain with movement in the first place. Vehicles were swapped. Menus were planned, printed, and prepared. Wines were specifically chosen. Attention to detail and yet a casualness of comfort attended every moment. I felt privileged and befriended, not that our relationship needed befriending; we've known each other since the 60's. All the more remarkable that a constancy of care should attend a relationship built on a lifetime of stories, however long the interludes indeed were. Boulder was a place I'd seen long before, just not with him.

It is the two small smooth stones retrieved from the bank of a small rapids that my friend brought back for me that now matter. I could not accompany him, but sat beside the car and waited while he, camera in hand, set off to record a scene I no longer could get to see. And those two stones, having travelled from Colorado back here to B.C., are now a caring reminder of the enduring friendship betwixt a man such as he, and a man such as me. And no, I shall not yet lob them into the sea. Yet were I one day to do so, it would not signify any end to things, but a plop in the ocean of the ongoing currents we live to share, and are even yet to see. Young boys, or men, friendships may be given eternally.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sermon on Sailing

We speak sometimes of sailing as just a jaunt. What fun! But in the old days it was to go across the seas, to voyage for a great many months, and to have to take with oneself the proverbial lock stock and barrel. We are clearly creatures of needs and wants and preferences, yes, but we also are creatures of choice. And once we choose to set sail from our base of the known upon the seas of the unknown, we set in motion a whole gamut of the possible, the perhaps, the potential, and the problems. Ah, the problems.

Moving when one is in a wheelchair (and when every physical movement exacerbates pain) is a bit of a problem. Add to that one's wife having this past week hurt her left foot with a hairline fracture in the metatarsal (thanks to but a moment's misstep when waving at a friend across a gravelly parking lot) and the two of us, here in the middle of a move between apartments, are a rather sorry lot. But we did choose this move, and we did choose the time for it, and we do choose what to do with our days. So why complain?

Moving can be so exciting! Ever been on a boat and felt that first motion, let alone the slip from the shore? Ever felt the rock and clickity-clack-clack of a train, the breathing of a horse beneath your seat, the lurch of a car from the red-released-robot? Nowadays traffic lights and robots are not so interchangeable. But it is not that type of moving of which I speak; it is the interior shift from one place to another. Although the trappings of one's life, the pictures and mementoes and affirmations of who you once were, or even are now, come along with you, there is a shift in consciousness that says that THAT was then, this is now. It is a move that is disintegrating. It is a move that tends quite naturally to be physically and mentally enervating (as opposed to invigorating). It is taxing. It's a move that is exhausting. And we can give a word or two of grumpiness and complaint, even as we instantly remind ourselves how lucky we are to have opportunity to move by  choice in the first place. Still, it would be nice if the key-fobs did not need new batteries, if the painter did not need checking and redirecting, if the contractor would be on time, if the furniture would just magically appear, if the bank balance was greater, if the...

But tides do shift. One realizes that the voyage is grander and greater than the quality concerns of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One realizes that moment by moment there is a shape-shifting of the secure foundations on which you stood to an acceptance of the fluidity of the present. Go with the flow. Let go of the identity that said you were a this or a that; the new natives, the new crew, the new captains, the new passengers on this ride see only your actions in the present. Now! Be caring, compassionate, patient, and kind. Be resilient, resourceful, ethical, and forthright. Be sensitive and aware and even generous. Be a host. Be a companion. Be a listener. Be a butler, a chauffeur, an advisor and a consultant. Be a steward and a lackey and a shoulder. Be a bookkeeper, a time keeper, a dates organizer, and be real. Oh yes, and keep up with the correspondence too. To everyone. But above all else, be a-flow with the go!

Sailing has its treasures. The trick is not to get seasick, ha! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sermon on Silence

Time for a personal confession. I am addicted to silence. Not the prolonged silence as in that silent movie of the silent monks, but an instant silence in which the juxtaposition between sounds, meanings, thoughts, sentences, even words is a space seemingly of a nothingness, not even pregnant with potential. In that silent space is just space, a space where no thing, no name, no idea, no construct, no piece, no particular, no chunk, lump, icon or lunkhead is to be found. Yet even then (as quantum leaps in our comprehension proves) space teems with the tiniest of unseen particles. Such is the synchrony within the interstices of the canvas of mankind, let alone the warp and weave of mankind's universe. When we hold a cloth up to the light there are spaces amongst the weave; so too through the leaves of a tree. A microscope shows organisms crawling in their own prison of space. Think of an atom and then a quirk or quark; we can scarcely envision it but surrounded by space. And being in touch with such emptiness, for me, is a sense of breath-taking. Listen if you will to Poe's Fall of The House of Usher in the Alan Parsons Project album. When the engorging music reaches a discordance so profound as to stir the sensibility of a climax, there is ... Silence. I've never timed it. I wish to bring no math to such exquisite nothingness. And among all the genres of my music collection there is not one note so pure and captivating, for me, as that isolated moment of utter silence. 

Things intrude. We are naturally involved with things. Even thoughts. Things ourselves, we prefer this shape to that shape, this size to that size, this color to that colour, and this spelling to that spelling. We grow up to recognize bad things from safe things, and safer things from badder things. We become selective. We hate. We love. We like. We dislike. We get addicted. We get attached. We do not care. We are naturally human. And we are stirred by what we feel, what we think, what we see, touch, taste, smell, hear. Well, obviously. But what is difficult for us to accept is that someone else may like or even love the things that we don't, in particular when it comes to values. A tribe who eats their elders as a matter of course, let alone abandons them as a matter of tradition, is an anathema to us. And all that we have innately registered as that which we ourselves are, in feeling, thought, sensibility, acceptable standards and value is very difficult now for us to bend or to move too far away from, for fear, as Tevye put it, that we shall break.

I really do not like seeing the word 'lamb' in a restaurant; I've cuddled some up in the crook of my arms. So too for a piglet, and a calf, and a chicken. Why not eat a pony, a puppy, or a kitten? And how about a... Where do we draw the line? Naturally, we draw lines. Some people never buy a Dodge. Some people would not thank you for a... We have preferences. It is the degree of our inability to overcome a standard of practiced belief that determines how easily integrative we are. As the saying goes: One can tell the measure of a man by what gets his goat. So some of us prefer not to eat meat, but if you serve it we shall eat, and be grateful for the present. But what if you like to serve boiled orphans? Then we must make a choice and draw a line, and create conditions around such a practice that curtails, contains and if necessary cauterizes the thing that would harm others. Sophistication has it that we do not harm others, that we do not kill, harm creatures, and so on down the slippery slope of contentions until we do not even pull out the carrot. Where does one the draw the line? When do we allow everything just to be, in the spaces between silence, as a participant? Now, is this a 'modest proposal', or does one need a Swiftian kick? Hm? Shush now. Shush. Who do you think you are?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mankind's Models

Mankind’s Models

Affecting all Persons,
The Ties that Bind Us!

 (A brief summary of some systems of analysis for our integration)

Challenge, Change,
Hope for the Future


Richard Michelle~Pentelbury B.A., B.Ed., M.A., Gifted Ed.

For Workshops:       

Understanding A Learner, and Learning

Kohlberg's stages of Moral Development

Level One
Consequences soon inconsequential; ‘self-centric’.

Level Two
Considering the consequences to one’s self, ‘ego-centric’.

Level Three
Considering the consequences to one’s immediate ‘family’, ‘family-centric’.

Level Four
Considering the consequences to one’s immediate community, ‘socio-centric’.

Level Five
Considering the consequences to one’s larger city community, ‘city-centric’.

Level Six
Considering the consequences to one’s nation, ‘country-centric’.

Level Seven
Considering the consequences to one’s land, ‘continent-centric’.

Level Eight
Considering the consequences to one’s planet, ‘globe-centric’.

Level Nine
Considering the consequences to all/everything at once, ‘universe –centric’.

Maslow’s Hierarchy:

A need to survive, and to meet basic human needs.

A need to live with peace of mind, and know that you will be safe.

Social Acceptance
A need to be accepted by others, and to fit into a community.

Self Esteem
A need to feel good about one’s self, and one’s values.

Self Actualization
A need to be all that one can possibly be.

De Bono’s Thinking Hats (Edward de Bono):

Black Hat
Focusing on negatives discovered through reasoning.

Red Hat
Being emotionally intuitive, and/or reactive, and incorporating others.

Blue Hat
Thinking about the bigger picture, and being organized.

White Hat
Thinking about the facts and what’s logical.

Yellow Hat
Focusing on positive aspects; agreeable, enthusiastic.

Green Hat
Looking for alternative ideas and new suggestions.

Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Howard Gardner):

Oral: verbal-linguistic; e.g. T.S. Eliot
Predominantly Learning from the spoken word, through discussing.

Logical: mathematical; e.g. Einstein
Predominantly Learning from connections, through reasoning.

Visual: spatial; e.g. Picasso
Predominantly Learning from pictures or texts, through imagining.

Kinesthetic: body; e.g. Nuriyev
Predominantly Learning from touching, through practicing.

Aural: music and sound; e.g. Mozart
Predominantly Learning from sounds or music, through songs, acronyms, or poems.

Social: inter-personal; e.g. Ghandi
Predominantly Learning from others, through socializing and understanding.

Reflective: intra-personal; e.g. Freud, Jung
Predominantly Learning from your self, through reflecting and considering.

Intuitive: nature-spirit ; e.g. Darwin
Predominantly Learning from environment and instinct, through feeling and remembering.

& Creative Intelligence: (Buzan and Keene) ~ willingness to defy tradition.
Gregorc’s Mind Styles 

Concrete-Sequential: systematic; organized, stable, productive, perfectionist
Abstract-Sequential: research; precise, conceptual, visionary, opinionated
Abstract-Random: cooperative, interpretive, social, noncompetitive, personal
Concrete-Random: instinctual; curious, hands-on, impulsive, impatient
Sequential-Random: absorption; spontaneous, adaptable, social, perceptive

Johari Window: (Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham)

Known to Self
Not Known to Self
Known to Others
Not Known to Others

Open:        Things we both know about me.
Blind:        Things I’m not aware of, but that you know about me
Hidden:     Things I know about me, that you do not know.
Unknown: Things neither of us know about me.

The Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz):

1)      Words should be ‘impeccable’.
2)      Nothing should be ‘taken personally’.
3)      Nothing should be ‘presumed or assumed’.
4)      Everything should be done ‘with your best at the time’.

Holland’s Theory: “Birds of a feather tend to flock together”:

1)      Realistic
2)      Investigative
3)      Artistic
4)      Social
5)      Enterprising
6)      Conventional
Psychogeometrics (Dr. Susan Dellinger)

CircleA warm hearted, loving, accepting, and agreeable person.

TriangleA determined, successful, persuasive and driven person.

SquareAn organized, detailed, thoughtful, and analytical person.

Squiggly LineA random, energetic, creative, and fun person.

RectangleA comfortable, unreflective, changing, and open-minded person.

Oscar Ichazo's Enneagram:
Oscar Ichazo's Enneagram of the Virtues
           Virtue               :     Passion    ;   Holy Idea   :    Ego-Fixation
1)    Serenity            :     Anger       ;    Perfection   :    Resentment
2)    Humility            :     Pride        ;    Freedom     :    Flattery
3)    Truthful             :     Deceit      ;    Hope          :    Vanity
4)    Equanimity        :     Envy        ;    Origin         :    Melancholy
5)    Non-Attachment:     Avarice     ;    Omniscience:   Stinginess
6)    Courage            :     Fear         ;    Faith           :   Cowardice
7)    Sobriety            :     Gluttony   ;    Planning      :   Wisdom
8)    Innocence         :      Lust         ;   Truth           :   Vengeance
9)    Action               :      Sloth       ;    Love           :   Indolence

Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration:

Level I, Factor one: Indiscriminatingly concerned with the self.

Level I, Factor two: Comfortable with the understanding of the world around them. Predominantly unquestioning of left/right values as concrete.

Level II: Uncomfortable with the world around them, and often hold conflicting values. Questioning for personal benefit.

Level III : Predominantly developing integrative moral guides, and comfort with themselves. Reflecting on themselves to develop behaviors.

Level IV: Predominantly helping others. Comfortable in making decisions.

Level V: Complete attitude of selflessness.

Spiral Dynamics (Clare Graves)

Beige: Predominantly involved in one’s own survival, and one’s own basic needs.

Purple: Predominantly involved in one’s family, clan, clutch, coven, club, and ancestry.

Red: Predominantly involved in the self, and determined to be that self, despite others.

Blue: Predominantly giving the self over to a group belief, and seeing ideologies as separate.

Orange: Predominantly perpetuating one’s own success, including others (sometimes at their peril).

Green: Predominantly concerned about world fairness, equality, equitability; others are wrong.

Yellow : Predominantly intellectual, concerned for world flaws, struggles with what is for what could  be.

Turquoise: Predominantly intuitive; promotes world love, compassion, integration.

Coral: Predominantly selfless.

Pentelbury’s Paradigm Phallacy: “Everything is Important and Nothing really Matters.”

Pentelbury’s Pathways of Practicing Preference:
1) Evaluative rather than Judgmental,
2) Integrative rather than Disparate,
3) Preferential rather than Needful,  
4) Flowing rather than Attached,
5) Enlightening rather than Enclosed             see:

Individualized Enrichment for All

Time Machine!

Individualized Enrichment Program

By Richard Michelle-Pentelbury, M.A.

Recipient of the:
Alberta Curriculum Development Innovative Practices Award

“Our deepest fear is not that we are
inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we
are powerful beyond measure.  It is our
light, not our darkness that most
frightens us.  We ask ourselves, who am I
to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and
fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to
be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing
small doesn’t serve the world.  There is
nothing enlightened about shrinking so
that other people won’t feel insecure
around you.  As we are liberated from
our own fear, our presence automatically
liberates others.”

Nelson Mandela
President of South Africa
Inaugural Speech, 1994
(As quoted from Marianne Williamson, 1992)


Fred flinstone to luke skywalker, beam me up!

We all know more than we know we know. But generally, our mental files are disorganized, our system of storing information random, and therefore our interest in seemingly unrelated data tends to depend on the moment. That Dinosaurs existed for a 135 million years, separated from Cave Man by another 63 million, give or take a year or two, takes most students by surprise, Fred Flintstones notwithstanding. So we watch the film as divers excavate a Spanish Armada Galleon, and we see the sharks nosing the treasure, and we hear “1588”, and for the vast majority of students of all ages, almost nothing else comes readily to mind. Shakespeare, Elizabeth I, Galileo, The Crusades, Robin Hood, Marco Polo, and Joan of Arc appear to co-exist. And the vast majority struggle with placing the ‘Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese Age of Print, Reformation, Renaissance, Iron Age, Industrial Revolution, and The Romantics’ into a chronological order. Information perceived as disparate or disjointed, to most of us, is mentally discarded. Our insecurity with ‘what we don’t know’ inhibits the acquisition of other knowledge.

However, once an individual has even one personally interesting thing that can assertively be placed on each time period of the whole Time Line, an evident excitement about adding to the mental file cabinet is readily witnessed. The Individualized Enrichment Program was born.

Across the last twenty years, with the author’s making presentations about the program to colleagues at conventions, as well as to students at large, individually or collectively, including sharing it with Adult Education Students at Night School for nine years, the ‘ah-ha’ factor has been significant and remarkable. The ‘common sense’ of it all has inspired student after student to wonder why it is not part of every school’s curriculum, and to wish that it had been. Colleagues who’ve implemented it have reported its efficacy, and its continuing success. Designed to accommodate the individual, its ‘independent’ nature is readily taken on by most students. Ideally, every student should be given this roadmap. Personal interests in a given subject, however diverse, as observed developing through the ages, makes for an ongoing interest in very many other things in other centuries that can be added to the mental (or actual) ‘scrap book’ of the independent learner. Our task is to provide the student with a methodology, an organizational framework for perpetual learning, and ‘a common sense’ basis for ongoing education. 

The Individualized Enrichment Program provides for every student a comprehensive ‘common sense’ basis of chronological knowledge for a lifetime’s interest. It is structured for the individual purposefully to exercise Differentiated Learning Styles continually ‘in the round’, to employ all conceivable mediums, and thereby to develop ‘holistically’. It provides for a perpetual basis upon which forever to add information. And it is designed to be an addendum to every curriculum in every discipline, without the teacher, per se, needing any additional or specialized knowledge. Implemented at any grade level, the program provides a continual basis for Subject enrichment as well as for the diversity of any individual’s ongoing interests.

As a learner comes to see the necessity of having a foundation for further learning, that learner soon finds a need to know more and more. All we have to do, as teachers, is beckon, and guide.
Or is that, ‘beam the learner aboard’?

1) Establishing this Program may make better use of the potential for students of independent learning habits. Its annual framework of proceeding with chronological knowledge in a logistical self-directed process provides for a focus on multi-level work habits and productivity, using every imaginable medium, rather than ‘just’ a continuing acquisition of ‘more’ knowledge, per se. The program’s course is intended to provide a lifetime basis of ongoing relevance for perpetual reference-based learning and interest.

 2) Originally designed by the author in 1983 as the Humanities Graduation Program at Oakley Centre for the Gifted, a five-year longitudinal study of the pupils involved proved its success. Also, it has been presented at conventions and been implemented on an ongoing basis with very many other independent students at several schools over the past two decades. In 2003 the program received the prestigious Alberta Curriculum Development Award for Innovative Practices. Last summer, following a visit to Canada by the Superintendent of Gifted Education for the Hartlepool School District, England, the author was invited to implement the program across six school districts, and the results culminated in a most successful presentation of the students’ results to the incumbent Minister of Parliament.

3) As an adjunct to a regular curriculum for students wanting such opportunity, minimal monitoring of this program by a teacher is required. (R)-evolving ‘contracts’ are suggested.


1) For Administrative purposes, students who are essentially self-motivated and who also are keen on enrichment learning, as proven by the student, as determined by teachers and administration, and thereafter sanctioned by parental permission, are candidates. As such, the program need not necessarily be labeled ‘for gifted.’ It is intended for all of us.

2) The Independent Learner student, all in-class work having been met, or able to be met, and at the teacher’s discretion, is ‘free’ to progress with the Enrichment Program.

3) The Program’s annual focus is to overview a broad based chronological development of history (in every conceivable genre), successively learning more and more, and to challenge the student to reflect such learning in the round. I.e., the student ideally is to practice differentiated learning styles in terms of application to task, to exercise cognitive, affective, concrete sequential, and abstract random domains with as many ingenious styles of presentation as creativity provides. The duration of any given task, depending on the student, should encourage practice with the unfamiliar, rather than dissuade. (E.g., make a song up about Vikings; play it on guitar.)

4) As such, the student ought to be encouraged to maintain a diary-portfolio of undertakings, studies, diversity of projects, readings, and insights throughout a lifetime.

5) An Academic Certificate of Recognition, enhancing a student’s resume, might be awarded, rather than a grade.

Conclusion:  As educators, limited in resources and time as we are by artificial pupil-teacher ratios and a disparate but prescribed exam-based curriculum, we still ought to be striving to provide a common-sense interest basis for a perpetual reference-based education. I trust that this program will do much to inspire the deserving students (and teachers) of all schools.

An Enrichment Program for The Individual Learner

Ten Months and Twenty Initial Chronological Stepping Stones
as a Possible Path of Progress:

Sept:  1   The Big Bang
          2  The Universe (My Very Exotic Mother Jerked Suddenly Under Neptune’s Pillow!)
          3  Periods & Ages (Cam Orders Silly Devon’s Car Perm, Tries Jury Creatures, Turns Quarters)
          4  First Civilizations (Mesopotamia, Hammurabi, and yes: the origins of Iraq!)
Oct:   5   Egyptians & Chinese
          6   Greeks
          7   Romans
          8   Vikings
Nov:   9    Saxons, Jutes, Aelfred, and Anglo Saxon
         10   1066 and all that!
Dec:  11 The Crusades
         12  Marco Polo and The East of the 1200’s
Jan:   13   Chaucer, Robin Hood, Prince John, and The Magna Carta
         14   The Printing Press and The Reformation and The Russians
Feb:  15  The Renaissance, The Elizabethans, and Shakespeare, and The Inca
Mar: 16  Revolution and Religion
Apr:  17   The Romantics
         18   The Industrial Revolution
May: 19   The Major Wars 
June: 20   The Technical Tide Rushes In, Our Iconoclastic Age, The Future.

Procedure, Projects, and Product:  Initially linear by nature, rather than mine-shafts of knowledge, ongoing learning ought to be reflected by a perpetual ‘exercise in the round’ of such challenging productivity as:
            Essays, Oral presentations,
            Posters, Paintings,
            Models, Multimedia (Computer)
            Dioramas, Collages,
            Songs, Poems, Dramas,
            Videos, Virtual Graphics
            Games, and anything else one’s creative mind develops for the benefit of oneself (and one’s portfolio!)

Individualized Enrichment Program

Self -Evaluation                                                    name:_______________________
This Enrichment Program, whereby the student undertakes a chronological research and overview of the development of our Universe and mankind from Big Bang to the present, is our program of self-motivated application to task. Such a chronological framework is intended to provide for a knowledge basis within which to append information and to inspire insight throughout a lifetime.

Your consistent application to task is vital to your Enrichment Activities, not just your talent. For each point below, please give yourself as fair a mark out of 10 as careful and honest thought about your average effort and behaviour would reflect:   

1) Self motivation          __________________________________________________________

2) Application to task     __________________________________________________________

3) Diversity of research   _________________________________________________________

4) Variety of resources    _________________________________________________________    

5) Independent work habits   ______________________________________________________

6) Respect of resource materials       ________________________________________________

7) Avoidance of distraction     _____________________________________________________

8) Degree of sustained interest             _______________________________________________

9) Consideration of others                                _________________________________________

10) Creativity                                                        __________________________________________

11) Doesn’t ‘waste time’ getting down to work_________________________________________

12) Stays on topic      _____________________________________________________________

13) Works to best of abilities      ____________________________________________________

14) Neatness (care) of products     ___________________________________________________

15) Diversity of products                       ___ ___________________________________________

16) Works at remembering academic content         ______________________________________

17) Keeps on trying when others distract              _______________________________________

18) Willingness to challenge oneself _________________________________________________

19) Supports academic content by home based reading          _______________________________

20) Interest in pursuing ongoing studies  ___________________________________________