Living, Loving, and Learning: Buscaglia Reflection
While reading Leo Buscaglia’s book, Living, Loving ; Learning, I was
able to reflect back on some of the experiences I have had in my life that have
helped to make me the person I am today, and I was able to look into the future
at what I would like to become. I was able to see how well I know myself and
what I have to offer others. I was able to see the things I don’t like about
myself and determine some of the ways I can make myself better. This is some of
what reflecting on my life and looking ahead while reading Buscaglia has taught
A. “You Cannot give to anybody what you do not have.”
I went to Juab High School in the small town of Nephi, Utah. Like
many other small town high schools, football coaches and P.E. teachers doubled
as Algebra teachers and Science teachers. This allowed our school to make full
use of the limited teachers and resources that it had. There was a lot of
talented people that taught at Juab and some of them made great teachers and
coaches, but some of them didn’t. Sometimes it ended up that the football
coach/algebra teacher cared a little more about tomorrow’s football game than he
did about ensuring his algebra students knew how to balance equations, and
sometimes the P.E./Science teacher cared a little more about the teaching the
tennis unit than she did about teaching the four life processes.
Those teachers were also the ones that had to relearn the algebra and
science lessons a few days before they taught them to us, because on paper they
were qualified to do the job, but as far as knowing the material and having an
interest in what they were trying to give to us, nothing was there. Have you
ever tried to get someone excited about a subject that you knew nothing about?
Have you ever had a math teacher that sent you across the hall to get help from
someone else because he didn’t understand what he was trying to teach you? It
can be pretty hard sometimes to get excited about something if your teacher
doesn’t get excited about it. These teachers tried to give us something that
they didn’t have.
When I was in middle school I had another teacher that tried to give
us what she didn’t have. She was the health teacher, but because of some
addictions to drugs, she really wasn’t very healthy. It was sad, because she
taught us from the book that certain drugs are addictive and we should take care
of our bodies. We knew that she knew this information first hand because she
was always on drugs. Many days she was so buzzed up that the teacher next door
would come ask her to hold it down because she was yelling instead of speaking
and didn’t even know it. Other days she would fall asleep on her desk while we
watched whatever we wanted to on TV. There was more than one time when the
stapler ended up in the garbage when the bell rang and woke her up! We all
learned how drugs can mess people up because we saw her every day, but I wonder
how valuable she thought the lesson would be to us because it was something she
obviously didn’t believe in? “You cannot give to someone what you do not have
Buscaglia makes over and over the point that knowledge and love
are both things that we can gain and gain, yet we are able to share them with
others without ever depleting our own supply. Because as teachers we need to
have the skills to teach our children to love themselves and to become the best
they can be, I think it is so important that we dedicate the time that we have
for living, to loving and learning. I am going to become the best Valerie that
I can be, because then I can give others the knowledge and the love to become
the best Johns, Kates and Ashleys that they can be.
B. Risk Taking
Buscaglia tells us the importance of being ourselves. For me,
sometimes being myself means taking a risk. All of us have our own little
views of what we think others see as being “normal,” and we all have innate
tendencies to try to either fit into the category of normalcy or to totally go
against what the crowd is doing just to be different.
I lived in Salt Lake for one month. At the restaurant where I
worked there was a wide variety of people. One of my friends had a mild case of
schizophrenia and was haunted by his inability to deal with reality. If he went
into the grocery store and saw a group of people laughing and joking, he
automatically thought that they were laughing at him. As a result of his
paranoia, he had a hard time making close friends and as a result of that made
himself an easy target for peer pressure. He would do anything at all to feel
accepted by others, simply because he wanted so much to be what he viewed as
Another guy I worked with there seemed like your average everyday
Joe… UNTIL one day I saw him when he wasn’t at work. He had rings in several
parts of his body, and was wearing a great deal of hardware over his leather
clothes. I barely recognized him! I said “Mac! Is that you?”
He started laughing at me and said, “You should have seen me before I
got my job. I used to have a blue Mohawk!” When I asked him why he dressed
that way and had blue hair he simply replied, “just to be different.”
I’m not so sure that making ourselves a target for peer pressure or
having blue hair and a pierced upper lip is what Buscaglia meant when he said we
should take risks. I think more of what he was getting at, is that we need to
be ourselves. We need to stop wondering whether those around us see us as being
extremely odd or as just a part of the crowd. We need to be ourselves. If
being yourself means you feel like going out and dancing in the rain once in a
while, you should do it! And if being yourself means you feel like singing a
song at the top of our lungs as you walk down the street, you should do that
too! And if standing on your head while facing the rear of the elevator is what
you’ve always wanted to do, by golly, just make sure that you’re not going to
fall on the 12 people in there that are acting normal. We just need to remember
to be ourselves!
One of the biggest risks I have ever taken has ended up being one of
the best things that has happened to me in my life. My brother-in-law met a
family in Indiana when he served his mission there a few years ago. When that
family came to visit this year, I was invited to go swimming with the group. I
tend to hide my true self when there’s a cute member of the opposite sex at
stake, and I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to risk letting Issac see the real me.
After all, there was a very good chance that he might not view me as being quite
normal! But I decided to let the real him give the real me a chance. Before
Issac went home the next day we were the best of friends. Now, thanks to
United States Postal Service, AT;T, and Delta Airlines, Issac is engaged to
spend the eternities with the real me. I sure am glad I decided to be myself.
C. “Love is the process of leading you gently back to yourself.”
To me, love means serving others. We love those whom we serve.
Babies are so helpless. They rely on others for everything that they need, and
sometimes their little wants and cries can be very demanding. But have you ever
seen an infant and his mother interact? A crying infant may begin to smile,
simply from hearing his mother’s calming voice. The mother reacts to the smile
with more talk and a smile of her own. As they give and take their cues from
each other, the mother and her child communicate and form loving bonds through
fulfilling each other’s physical and emotional needs.
I had the opportunity to work with some of the students enrolled in
Special Education at my high school. The first term that I did this, my job was
to help a student frost sugar cookies to be sold in the school bookstore. What
a challenge! Each day this beautiful girl had to be retaught how to scoop the
icing onto the cookie and how to spread it around so that in the end, the cookie
somewhat resembled something edible. It was not an easy task for her. She was
often angry with herself because she couldn’t remembered from the days before,
and at first it embarrassed her that she needed any help from me to do her work.
But with a little patience from each of us, and some casual conversation while
we worked, the task suddenly wasn’t so difficult for either of us anymore. She
realized that I was there to help her and to be her friend, and I realized how
much I had to learn from this courageous person. As I gave her encouragement
and friendship, she began to remember what she was doing from day to day and to
show more pride in her work. This let me know I was doing an o.k. job with her
and allowed me to feel good about myself. As we served each other we grew to
love each other.
Whether it is raking leaves for the neighbors or teaching a
child to read, those whom we serve are going to know that they are someone who
is important, as will we when we serve them. By giving service, we have led
someone back to themselves. We have given love.
Buscaglia talks a lot about making changes. We cannot progress
if we do not take the necessary steps to making changes in our lives. It is
through examining our lives, determining what we do and do not like, and then
working hard to make the changes necessary to become better. Change is not
something that happens over night, but must be worked at continually in order to
make the change become a long lasting one.
When I was a little girl, I had the bad habit of biting my fingernails.
Sometimes I would chew them so far down that they would become very sore and
sometimes even infected. My older sister Kathy had long, beautiful nails that I
was pretty envious of, and I decided that I was going to have fingernails just
like that. It took a LOT of will power not to bite my fingernails ( though now
looking back I’m not sure why I enjoyed chewing them so much!), but finally I
was able to stop. My nails grew very slowly at first, and were extremely
brittle, but eventually they grew to be strong and healthy. I was pretty proud
of myself and made sure that my entire family knew what a good job I had done
and how beautiful they were. My sister Angie, then also a biter of nails, got
tired of hearing about it awfully fast! One night, with the assistance of Kathy
who was just out for the adventure of it all, Angela cut all of my fingernails
while I was asleep in order to teach me not to brag! I decided that unless I
wanted to lose my hair next, which grew much faster than Angela’s and I made
sure she knew it, bragging had better be the next change that I make in my life.
Through the years I have made several changes when I have seen
something about myself I didn’t like. When I read Buscaglia, I took the little
look at my life again and set goals to make some changes. One of them was to
stop arguing with my older sister Allison. I don’t know how feasible it is to
make such a goal, but I decided I’d make an extra effort. The fact that I’ve
set the same goal not to argue with her a hundred or more times previously is
just proof that change takes a continuous effort, not just one event, in order
to make the efforts effective and make the change long lasting. I decided that
I am going to let more of the little things she does that annoy me slide by, and
to stop doing things just to annoy her. That is just the first steps. After
I’ve got those down, I’ll look at the situation again and work on something else.
If I work hard, impossible though it may sometimes seem, the change can be made
and I will be a better person because of it.
E. “To me, life is God’s gift to you. The way you live your
life is your gift to God. Make it a fantastic one.” p. 83
I chose this quote from the writings of Buscaglia because it
ties up all of his ideas into one little bundle. If you were to give someone a
gift and then watched them neglect it, abuse it, or destroy it, your feelings
would be hurt and you would be pretty upset. But if you were able to see them
show it off to their friends, love it, and take care of it, you would feel like
that person appreciated the gift and it would be almost like a gift to you.
Upon reading this quote is where I took the opportunity to look into
the future. The gift that God gave me is a wonderful one. Sometimes I have a
hard time seeing my life as being wonderful because I make so many mistakes.
But life is wonderful because life is about making mistakes. It is what we do
with them that is important. I know that God always sees me as being wonderful.
God loves me. He gave me life. God wants me, and every other person, to
become the very best that we can be, and then to become even better. He wants
us to nurture life, to love life, and to live it. Let’s do our best.