It’s probably only fair to tell you that when it comes to thinking, talking, writing and working to help release the human potential, I am probably a bona fide fanatic.I think I know where the influences came from that made me this way. (This format won’t allow me to make paragraphs, so I’ll start each new one with a star.)
* For one thing, (and this really is a big thing, strangely enough) I moved from East Tennessee to Monterey, California for the first year of my marriage, and spent all the time I could at nearby Big Sur, called by Robert Louis Stevenson “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world.”
* So everlastingly expansive, enchanted, wild and free is that surreal seascape that every time I saw it, thoughts equally as untamed and unlimited swirled within me, almost against my will and right mind. Henry Miller said of it, “This is the face of the earth as the creator intended it to look.”
* The main thought that came to me there was “If this is possible, what else might the creator have intended?” The answer always came back: “Plenty more.” Millions of wildflowers create a crazy quilt of brilliant neon colors against ground covers of sage-green lichens, and chartreuse mosses. Vigorous winds twist gnarled trees into spectacular shapes while they tease the mist lying in coves between rugged mountains. Below
are turquoise lagoons, surely populated by elusive mermaids.
* Enormous foamy waves crash against craggy rocks while gulls cry, and sea lions bark. Ocean smells are mingled with lavender, eucalyptus, and pine, along with the negative ions, which energize everything within you. And then – – oh!- – – and then, there is that inscrutable deep blue totally placid sea beyond, that seems to go on forever and ever, hiding who knows what? “Puff” the magic dragon, at least. Possibilities, possibilities, possibilities . . . . .Yes! Anything seemed possible: all creativity, all chemistry, all physics, but especially all beauty, intricacy and subtlety.
* Although I’ve never been to the Esalen Institute located at Big Sur, I’ve long held wonderful notions about “The Human Potential Movement” that grew up in such a place. It’s easy to understand why it happened there and why it continues. But, I have not gone just yet because I almost don’t want the reality of it to “burst my bubble.”
* Another major influence was my unusual houseboat up-bringing on a clear and beautiful blue-green lake near Norris, Tennessee. It trained me to notice endless varieties of shapes, colors, textures, sizes, winds, and weathers, as well as the subtle energies and small miracles of transformation. Always, the secret processes that turn the unremarkable into the magnificent and the lowly into the exquisite confounded me. As if all that were not enough, there was star gazing from the flat houseboat roof: peering through the Milky Way into endless worlds beyond this one while the contemplation of it would just about pull the brains right out of my skull some nights.
* Later in my life, I discovered the act of gardening, the carrying out of creative stewardship that is so bountifully and gloriously rewarded. It left me in a state of awe about what could be – – – with just a little thoughtful sowing and tending,
* Through it all was a constant observation of uniqueness and the heady realization that no two “anythings” in the entire world are exactly alike. How stupefying!! How amazing beyond belief! And those mysterious processes are always underfoot, gradually unfolding.
* Also giving me jolting sparks of amazement has been the act of looking around in large libraries, thinking about all the questing, creative and infinitely varied minds that have so quietly but effectively injected their own divine juices into the spicy and mysterious stew of civilization.
And then of course there is “the field,” that matrix of subatomic particles all around us, just beyond our senses, which scientists have come to realize, is teeming with invisible possibilities awaiting the creative mind of mankind to fashion. I almost begin to dance a jig, so eager am I to co-create.
* But, by far and away the strongest influence of all has been the time I have spent around babies and young children, before they have become corrupted by this imperfect world of ours. To my way of thinking, babies are absolutely the noblest work God has ever been able to fashion. I just know He (or She) would agree…
* A new and long-hoped-for baby brother arrived in our family when I was at the impressionable age of nine. Towheaded, perfect and totally adorable, he became my constant favorite plaything, my human “wind- up toy,” and the object of my own private study of how kids learn and develop. How I scrutinized his every move, and how amazed I felt at his gradual endearing developments! How I marveled at his flawless wee toes, the adorable little round muscles in the calves of his legs, his bright, curious big brown eyes, his first earnest efforts to understand and be understood, and his expressive range of emotions! “How on earth did this miraculous living creature come to be?” I wondered. magic had landed right in my lap!
* Later, with the arrival of my own children, I resumed this intense study and, as you will see, became passionately obsessed by the human potential that is merely hinted at by something as wild, and wonderful and full of infinite possibility as the Big Sur coast.
* But then – – then – – Oh… daily reality: whenever I see dull-witted, slack jawed, half inebriated people lying around as “couch potatoes,” and think about how they started out as little babes bursting with marvelous potential, it simply rips my cord, as they say. I deeply know of their astounding make-up, and the incredible possibilities latent within them. I feel almost crazed to try to help them get back to it. I sense that they feel they are imprisoned and hence doomed to the lives they are leading.
* Perhaps because I was a breech birth during which both I and my mother nearly died, I value freedom of movement almost above all things. When I perceive the trapped state of human beings it gives me an almost physical pain. Ah! Well…so now, at least you know with whom you are dealing.
* As you read my writings, you will probably note that I have chosen to quote Albert Einstein a lot. There’s no doubt that he had one of the most brilliant minds of human history, and was an intriguing example of human potential at its best, even though he modestly denied it. But when I started noticing quotes from him, I was amazed and delighted to realize than his mind was not only full of equations and theories, but was also packed with exquisitely beautiful wisdom pertaining to learning. We need his wisdom, and so I have liberally sprinkled it around and make no apologies for doing it.
* You’ll also notice that I borrow from Maria Montessori quite a bit. She, more than any other human in recorded history, had a passion for helping children really learn. She was the first to give her life to assembling (out of her own creative mind and imagination), the first comprehensive prepared learning environment for hands-on learning. Her deep and sincere respect for and love of children shines like a beacon of light through everything she wrote.
* With everything in me, I sincerely believe that it is time for humanity to set all ages of people free in a totally well-prepared natural learning environment, reawaken their natural instincts to master it and see what happens. Like the Kitty Hawk, if it gets off the ground and actually flies, the Concorde can come later.