My mother is one of the most straight-laced people I know. The woman has never been intoxicated in her life and has never dropped the “f-bomb.” She has tremendously accurate grammar and an iron will. I was simultaneously surprised and not by her description of her life’s philosophy (here) for NPR’s “This I Believe“:
A Daily Dose of LSD
I believe in using LSD every day. I learned about this idea from a lady named Mrs. Weir who was the Presbyterian minister’s wife and taught a class at the daily Vacation Bible School in the summer when I was 10 years old. Her use of LSD was different from Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, or the Beatles of the 60′s who would become known for their usage. She shared her ideas with our group that was learning about the Dead Sea Scrolls, but she taught me something that would become my life-long passion for learning, seeing, and doing in my sheltered world; that is to
Learn something new each day;
See something beautiful each day;
Do something good each day.
Taking one day at a time, what did I learn today? I just finished reading a book co-authored by Greg Mortenson. His”Three Cups of Tea“is a story of one man’s mission, primarily in Pakistan, to promote peace . . . one school at a time. It’s heart-warming to know that there are others who care so very much about education.
Our eyes are open every day, but what do we really see? Can you remember the very first time that you saw a cardinal or looked under a microscope, or saw a sunset that generated such a variety of colors that you said to yourself,”That would be a hard puzzle to put together.”I do. Today I saw brilliant rays of the sun peek through the clouds and drop straight toward me!
There are many ways to”do”something good. My preschoolers used to make their beds in the morning â€“ without being asked. I make a bed every day, too, but it’s of a different nature: namely doing good deeds. Today I overslept my alarm; consequently I had to hustle with the household chores before I went out of the house. Was I late? Was I”on schedule?”When I arrived at the Fitness Center, my friend wanted to tell me about her new therapy for her shoulder. I listened. Another friend was flattered that I had found his recent newspaper article so informative and helpful. I listened. When I was leaving the building, I stopped at the front desk and inquired if the receptionist’s yoga class had gone smoothly yesterday. Beaming she replied that it had and shyly she added that she had only recently qualified to join this group. I listened.
Today was all about me and how I used LSD. Tomorrow and the next day and all the other next days are more opportunities for me to expand beyond self to my community, my state, my nation, and my world. Here’s to LSD!
My mother says she suspects this philosophy is lived out more by women than men, in no small part because women get social approval for saying and doing “nice” things. I share her suspicion.
For my own part, I am tremendously proud of my mother and grateful to her. To the extent I am a half-way decent teacher, I credit her. I conjure my mother alot when I am teaching. I ask myself how I would explain a particular concept to my mother, a brilliant woman who is not a lawyer (she’s a former high school English teacher). And because my mother is quite a dynamo when she lets her personality out from under wraps, I suspect that I am trying to mimic my mother’s creativity and energy.
My distinct childhood impression of my mother is that she really liked my sister and me (in addition to loving us). She liked talking to us. She liked being with us. I don’t think a law professor should be like a mother, and yet, in some ways, as a law professor, I want to be like my mother. I want to convey to my students that I like talking to them, that I like being the classroom with them.
Am I the kind of teacher my mother would like to have? I hope so. And now my students know where some of my goofy drug jokes must come from — clearly they’re my mother’s fault!