On Becoming a New Person

During my undergraduate days at Winona State College (currently named ‘Winona State University), I needed to enroll in one class during those times when I was working on the ‘basics’ – the classes in general education necessary for moving on into the more important classes associated with my major area of study.  I chose (probably more out of the convenient time than anything else) ‘Music Appreciation’.  The instructor, a nearly blind fellow, came into class on the first day and announced:  “Into Every Life A Little Rain Must Fall – – – And, I’m Your Rain This Morning”.  (Turns out that this statement was a prophecy and living now in South Central Texas, I appreciate the precious rain!) 

The first music we would consider as in coming freshmen was to learn the school song.  He emphasized that the last line was: “Hail, Winona, Hail”, not the more commonly sung:  “Hail, Winona, Ale”.  Now, I don’t remember any of the music he emphasized, but he certainly provided us a fine education, about living away from home for the first time in our lives, about self-control, about managing resources, about handling accidents (mistakes/failures) and about life in general.  

One day in particular, he told us to leave our books and stuff at our desks that we were going to go for a walk.  Our building was a square with a courtyard in the center, and we walked around in the hallways of this grand old school completely around that square.  I enjoyed the walk – Pat was my walking partner and she was pretty, smart, and I asked for permission to contact her out of class – she agreed to that.  When we returned to our room, our instructor said, “Now, take one sheet of paper and list everything you observed while we walked” – noting that observation was a key to appreciating classical music.  Well, I had noticed her eyes, and her smile, and her perfectly pitched speaking voice, and . . well, you get the idea.  I heard him say: “This list will be the first examination to determine your grade in this class!”  Oh, dear!  (One month to the day later, Mr. Grimm – his real name! – said “ . . . leave your books and stuff at your desk . . “.  I took my little notebook and one pencil – and on that second walk I don’t remember if or not Pat was along – I suspect she was taking notes, too.

Mr. Grimm taught us about life –  –  – and a little bit of music.  He was in my mind today when I found this quote by A. Einstein: “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”

Mr. Grimm was in my mind today as I reviewed the last few days of my life here in South Texas.  To have someone break into our home and steal property can be unpleasant, to say the very least.  I’ll have to give up some things as I grow through this unpleasant episode – among those lessons will be one I also found in Einstein’s work.  He told us: “I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.”  On one morning, Mr. Grimm walked into the classrom late – he was never late.  His first words as he addressed us that day:  “On the way to work this morning, I met a total stranger.  He was very unpleasant at first, but in a short time after I proved my worthiness to him and my willingness to agree to some of his demands, he calmed down and became very nice.”  And, our class resumed its course.  That afternoon we heard on the daily news reports that Mr. Grimm had been involved in what could have been a very serious car accident – He Was Nearly Blind, for goodness sakes!!

So, I’m in the process of making some changes in my life at this time and I’m going to be aware of Einstein’s advice:  “I must be willing . . . . “.  And, at the same time, I’ll be aware of the words of a genius the world has recently lost, Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinios drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Could he be saying:  “Because I don’t want to”?  We can choose to be ourselves!

Time to change for you?

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