Of the 50 (more or less) books that were used to formulate the Biodesign curriculum, one of my favorites was, The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. The book contains 26 stellar meditations on the holistic nature of human beings, including intimate topics ranging from love, joy/sorrow, death and everything in between.
Conservative estimates are that the book has sold upward of 50 million copies (nine million in the US) and has been translated into over 100 languages. During the last 95 years it has undergone 188 consecutive print runs, longer that any other book except the Holy Bible. I have quoted the book 1000s of times.
So poets have concluded that everything is ironic, get over it! I suppose a corollary could be that everything is a paradox that I get to celebrate.
Ergo: In a splendid irony, the one line in The Prophet, that has been a stunning paradox for me, is in his meditation on “Teaching.”
“For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.”
WHAT? The thought should send chills down every teacher’s spine. Did he really believe that? If so, why would he write a book of his visions that have influenced millions of people? I understand Zola Hurston’s, “You got to go there to know there,” but what if people have no clue where the “where” is they are supposed go? John Muir understood the enigma when he wrote, “No amount of word-making will ever make a single soul to know these mountains.” However, just as Muir understood that it is impossible to define the mystique of the mountains, using words like visions and wings as spiritual metaphors can be equally illusive and impossible to define.
As for sharing visions, Christie Young has been my helpmate and spiritual guide for over 57 years. Together we have formed a triangular relationship with God at the apex. One of the earlier trips, after we were married, was to Yosemite National Park. We were drawn to the wilderness and met spiritual giants like John Muir, H-D Thoreau and RW Emerson. The men all agreed that all designs in Nature are reflections of a living God: ergo; Biodesigns. With her help and guidance, eventually the Biodesign Class emerged as a gift from God and brought us into contact with thousands of people to share visions with.
Finally, after 50 years of discussions, contemplation and inner turmoil, I have arrived at a resolution to Gibran’s paradox. He may be partly correct, but also partly incorrect. It occurs to me that an alternative synonym for vision could be inspiration. All people, even children, are capable of inspiring others to reach for higher ground. Heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King, JFK, Abe Lincoln and John Muir have inspired countless millions of people to soar to physical, mental and spiritual heights beyond their wildest dreams. They might be a grocery clerk, shopkeeper or taxi cab driver, but all can arrive at a grateful (and graceful) state of living.
While discussing Biodesign Out For A Walk, I am not being disingenuous by stating that I was not the author. I just happened to be along on 63 trips into the wilderness and mentally recorded a very tiny sample of the millions of thoughts and emotions that over 700 young adults experienced. Their thoughts and reflections were so vividly real that they were etched into my soul so that I did not need a journal or notebook to arrange the stories into a loosely formatted manuscript. Ex-colleague Linda Williamson (English teacher extraordinaire) lovingly rescued me and gathered up 280 pages and deftly segregated them into 31 chapters between two covers. Without her vision and guidance the book would never have happened.