In which I don’t contemplate the Rule of St. Benedict.

This post isn’t going to be nearly as deep as it starts. I figured I might divulge that lest anyone expects profound wisdom. However, you just might find it if you click on the references linked.

If you’ve read here any length of time, You know that I am quite a fan of Joshua Gibbs. Gibbs, a teacher who leads students through a tour of the great books at a Christian classical school, authors a blog called The Cedar Room at Circe Institute. He recently authored a book which I’ve yet to read although I plan to. When I do, I’ll review it here. Almost everything he offers regarding the intersection of education, faith, and creating an atmosphere conducive to learning resonates with me, and I always look forward to reading what he has to say because it inspires me both as a teacher and as an aspiring writer.

Tonight is a rare date night, so as I was soaking my feet in preparation for the  softest possible result, I decided to catch up on his most recent posts. I often read educational inspiration on Fridays, as this is when I self-flagellate while re-examining the week behind me; from my time with my students at home (my children), to the students I teach at school. I was working backwards from today’s post to the first of the week, as I often do. Between a welcome opportunity to contemplate the rule of St. Benedict  (seriously, go read that!) and the role of the “sage on the stage”,  Gibbs drops in this ditty which sends me off on a mental rabbit trail, which may or may not be of worth at some point. I’ll have to ponder. Note the bolded part, which is where I’m about to park:

Students made eyes at one another, mouthed little conversations to one another, flirted with each other, and studied the six dozen pencil pouches and other gear (why everyone must have a water bottle these days is beyond my reckoning— were children of my generation dying of dehydration in math class and I simply never heard about it?) which filled the table. I found myself constantly working around the additional distractions the table created, and neither did I find conversation richer around the table than inside a classroom wherein all were oriented to the front.

And with that simple, unimportant, yet astute and accurate observation, my contemplation of the deep things concerning education and life was derailed as I wondered: Why DO we all send our kids off to school and every where else, with a big, reusable, and often expensive water bottle in tow? I carry one as well but I know why, and the answer startlingly simple and vain: If I drink more water, I eat less food, and my fabulously caramel skin stays hydrated, staving off the wrinkles a wee bit longer. Surely, your average six-year-old spending his days shuffling between an air conditioned classroom and a covered playground harbors no such concerns.

Our 10-year-old has already lost one $19 water bottle this school year, and she almost lost a second except this time we had the presence of mind to write her name on it. When she left it on the playground a while back, I got a call from another mother to inform me that she had taken possession of the water bottle and would reunite it with us on Monday.

Mr. Gibbs asked the question concerning those of us who were students in years gone by: were we all suffering from the dehydration we all seem so intent on sparing our children? I doubt it highly, but it still leaves me wondering. Usually with a little thought, a book and a few clicks, I can connect the dots and ascertain some idea of how particular cultural and parenting tics gained a foothold in our daily lives. The water bottle obsession, however, eludes me.

Just maybe, when I figure that one out, I can revisit the sage on the stage and the rule of St. Benedict.

Y’all have a great weekend, now!

11 thoughts on “In which I don’t contemplate the Rule of St. Benedict.

  1. hearthie says:

    Not to be the devil’s advocate, but yeah, I probably was. In HS I started the day with half a cup of coffee and didn’t have another bit of food or water until 2pm. And I didn’t drink water that I could avoid drinking until we started getting filtered water – when I was in college, I think. (The tap water here is heavily chlorinated). I drank milk as a kid. IMO we *actually used* the water fountains at school when we were little. Not in HS, obviously. Because ew. But in elementary, yes.

    Now, to be more interesting, the crazy garden guy I watch online swears up and down that the reason we’re forever hydrating ourselves is because our veggies/fruits are far less hydrated than they were back in the day, and this has resulted in our need to drink more water. I don’t think I’d disagree about the “less hydrated” but if you want to make that causal, we’d have to assume that people eat like he eats, which is mostly fresh from the plant – and we all know that’s not true now and wasn’t true when we grew up in the 70s/80s.

    I’ll go with: We’re more health conscious; We don’t use the water fountains; Something in our environment encourages us to “need” to drink more liquid.

    But that’s also you and me. I know plenty of folk who don’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Elspeth says:

    Now that you mention it, I and most my friends probably was too. I don’t think I drank anything at all except for at breakfast and lunch and that would have been from 7am-3pm. And not just in HS. But JrHi, and probably elementary school except for a few fountain runs where you really don’t drink that much.

    Somehow though, that being the case, it still leaves us with, “How did we decide that our kids need to be carrying around a 32 oz water bottle all day?”

    I think you’re probably right. We’re all just more health conscious. I’ll leave the irony of that hanging there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bike Bubba says:

    Somehow it strikes me that a water bottle can, if regularly cleaned, be a little more sanitary than a water fountain where kids put their mouth on the pipe. Just sayin’.

    I used to use a mason jar for water at work, and joked when my boss came by when I was filling it that now he knew I wasn’t drinking moonshine all day. He responded by telling a tale of going to a rock concert where the security team, a group of “gentlemen” from the Pagans motorcycle club, emptied a whiskey bottle and then one guy started chewing it up. My boss, a former Navy Seal and no shrinking violet, decided that that was not a place where he wanted to be….

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Elspeth says:

    Somehow it strikes me that a water bottle can, if regularly cleaned, be a little more sanitary than a water fountain where kids put their mouth on the pipe. Just sayin’.

    Well yeah, we think along those lines now but when we were kids, the thought was rarely expressed by our parents -certainly not enough to produce action which spawned a multi-million dollar industry selling portable water containers.


  5. Bike Bubba says:

    Regarding dietary changes, it’s worth noting that oleomargarine came out during WWII for most Americans, and the introduction of white flour came a century earlier–big part of why the Twin Cities are there, really. The big dietary changes since 1965 are a lot more added sugars and fats, and fresh fruit and vegetables are available year round at a modest price. I don’t know that we can describe it in monolithic terms, really.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. hearthie says:

    We also don’t go home to eat and drink, which we used to do. That might have more of an influence. I notice this (as a heavy water consumer) when I’m out of the house, I get dehydrated because I am not forever refilling my water glass, and I’m not used to drinking a couple of glasses of ?? during a meal.


  7. SMK says:

    introduction of white flour came a century earlier–big part of why the Twin Cities are there, really. The big dietary changes since 1965 are a lot more added sugars and fats, and fresh fruit and vegetables are available year round at a modest price. I don’t know that we can describe it in monolithic terms, really.

    The Pareto Principle (80/20) rule is what engineers live on. it’s true, 80% of this problem can be solved with 20% options. In this case, it really is just food. It really is (practically) monolithic.

    First, “white flour” is not much worse than “whole flour”. Rice is the best of them due to lack of gluten but they’re all ugly on the human body as we have not evolved to eat grains in large quantities like we do today. Remember Jesus’ disciples picking individual grains of wheat? That’s not what we do today.

    Second, Read Weston Price. Saw this coming from American teeth getting crooked and rotting out around 1930. Grains and seed oils in quantities. Not due to animal fats; those are very healthy; we’ve evolved to eat them for millions of years. I eat gobs fat, day after day, and get healthier and leaner the more I eat. Fat is good (if no grains are are added)!

    Third, yes we can’t place it to a single date this is true; the trend has been ongoing since 1900’s or so: cancers, teeth, fat, diabetes, heart disease. These were nearly non-existent in healthy hunter-gatherers. But big US noticeable swings were: 1930 (grains in quantity due to auto transport, seed oils), 1960 (processed food, working moms), 1975 (cheap sugars, HFCS), 1990 (food pyramid, anti-fat movement, very cheap grains).

    But we don’t need this guesswork – each person can test on themselves. We have over many years. Lots of data. Big sample size. There is zero doubt. And it’s slowly going mainstream – did you hear the FDA just “removed” cholesterol from their “bad” list? Quietly, of course :-). It’s really just returning to our roots, what our great-great grandmothers tried to eat when they could afford it: meat (grass fed), fish (wild not farmed), eggs (no factory), veggies (home grown).


  8. Bike Bubba says:

    Friend, as a lifelong reader of National Geographic, there is a huge reason that you don’t see much cancer or heart disease among hunter-gatherers, specifically that they tended to die before getting old enough to get those diseases. Mean life expectancy worldwide in 1900 was about 31 years. Even the well-known confluence of diabetes with Native Americans is tempered by the reality that they are living a LOT longer today than they used to.

    Is there a lot that can be done with diet? Sure, but let’s remember that readily available calories, vitamins, and protein have made a HUGE difference in lifespans that we don’t want to just throw away without understanding what we’re doing.

    Liked by 1 person

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