Susan’s Confiteor: Lightning Hits the Sand on the Road to Damascus


I don’t pay for very many cloud services, but I do pay for Diigo especially now since it allows for highlighting and annotating pdfs. They just added that to the mix, but it is the old tools there that I find are still the best. I have become aware that my long comments might not be considered apt by some rubrics and while I do not entirely agree, I am a bit prolix and a bit hyperbolic and I do carry on a bit and …the picture clears, yes? So I decided to use the annotated link feature in Diigo to move my comments off the page entirely and almost off the comments page.

I created the annotated link in response to Susan Watson’s  confiteor to the connected learning MOOC, #CLMOOC.  You must read her post first then I will provide the annotations. In other words you have to read the post before you “get” the notes.   I will stop here for awhile and listen to the sound of water flowing on my farm while you read.

OK, here are the annotations and the reason why am I doing it this way. First, this post deserves a wider audience. It is about a connected learning vision, an experience that #ccourses wants to hasten through its various technomachinations. Second, It is good to feedforward to the imagined end if you value the future; otherwise, you are stuck with what you have always had. Susan inspired me to forge more connections.  So why is this so much about me and what I wrote.  Egomania runs in my gender, but seriously… I want to show you the kind of close reading that I find personally necessary to connect with another writer.  This is what I model to my students for good or ill.  Diigo helps me do it better than any other tool I use except maybe paper, pen, and a document camera.  Besides if you come this far it isn’t as likely you will invoke the tl;dr card.

It's Sarah's


Ahhh… you have chosen to carry on and so we shall.  Here are our forgeries, foundings and confiteors. (Forgive me my formatting probs below. Don’t know how that happened.)

Susan: I am essentially an embryo
Terry: Beginner’s mind–enso

S: Feeling like I could not contribute anything of value to such an amazing group of people
T: I went a lot of years just being a lurkbot. I still slip into that role at times. Easier. Inertia          carries you into an eddy in the stream of time and space. Pretty peaceful. But isolated              can mean ignored, too. Sometimes I just felt better to be alone online because I was                   very different. I have decided only recently, within the last few years that I can allow                 myself to be myself and that includes AngryWalter, Tellio the Naif who doesn’t                             understand, and the Facilitator. Wow. Life got interesting really quickly.

S: [U]nthinkingly protected its ragged remnants.
T: Such image and rhythm and fearless grace in these words: unthinking, ragged,                        protected remnants. I am reminded of the Yeats’ poem “The Circus Animals’ Desertions”        where in the end when all the ladders are gone and there is no escape one is left with                “the foul and ragged bone shop of the heart”. Yours is not quite so cinema noir, but it is             still a livid place.

S: [N]early ego-less
T: Now that is a story all by itself right there. Return to beginner’s mind, enso, embryo.

S: #flailers.
T: One use of the word that I also had in mind was that of scourge, the Medieval                             flaggelant pilgrim. Folks who take the flails of self and the flails of the world and press on       to wherever it is pilgrims go. I had forgotten that hashtag. I have ample opportunity to             use it on a regular basis still. I think I will start using it again. Perhaps luring in some                    lurkers/samplers/watchers/observers/worriers in the process. That kind of openness              and vulnerability is a bit like a NASCAR track–an attention magnet. Calvin and                              Hobbes  said this best, “What could possibly happen next?”

S: [P]ro forma powdered cheese                                                                                                                                   T: I read this out loud and laughed. MDR as the French say.

S: {T]itles like Pigs and Beer
T: “Pigs and beer, come over here.” I swear I heard that at a ball park once from a vendor.       Is there anything less pretentious and worthy of careful respect than a pig. I once had a           young sow who was such a friendly critter. I began to think of her as my friend until one          day a pitch her a black walnut still in its husk. She positioned it in the back of her jaws to        one side and made one horrific crack and it was gone. I had a whole buck of walnuts I fed      her in this way. She’d catch them, crack them and eat them. After that I never entertained      the idea that Mary (for that was her name) could ever be my friend except in my head.

S: [T]he connected learning had a life of its own.
T: Do you find connections in your head still being made? Connections beyond your                  head? Feral connections hiding like a bobcat? like a possum playing dead? like a                         centipede in its creepy hillocky humping down the road? Just felt like opening up the               little treasure box in my head.

S:  [So] much real cheese that I never even knew existed.                                                                             T:  And so much falling, involuntarily down. Learning is often about not being in control.         It is about trust and improvisation and taking a pratfall for the audience. Charlie                       Chaplin, Robin Williams, Chris Farley, Richard Pryor. So often it is the content of our own       fears and our own living that must be the context for this falling. We fall away and we               fall towards…we know not what?

S: [The] requisite conditions for such living-loving-learning to occur
T: Be careful here. Don’t join the scaffolders and the scope and sequencers and the                    curriculum packagers and the common corers who promise cause and effect for just a            low downpayment and even lower monthly payments, no credit/no job needed. I could          be wrong.

S: Basically, can this happen with any group of people?                                                                                 T: It is a fabulous question. It is one all the facilitators asked at the beginning of the                   second CLMOOC. We wouldn’t have done it again if we had we not thought we could                 replicate the experiment, but as you can well imagine, I trotted out Heraclitus as well as         chaos  theory to raise the yellow flag–the former said that you can’t step in the same               river twice and the latter argues that you can’t keep the initial conditions the same so             you can’t get the same emergent behaviors. But why does that matter as long as you               have that improvisational edge: whatever you give I will take and run with it.

S: Here’s what I feel (I was going to say, “here’s what I know”)
T: Feeling gets you out of the language trap. We all know that language can at best                    vaguely figure forth the magic interior of the felt life. But embodiment, now that is                    another kettle of bells.

S: [W]hen lightning hits sand.                                                                                                                                         T: Even better. Your killing me with the geology. I love it. You are also Saul on the road to         Damascus. You are wise to take epiphany and spiritual transformation away from the               religious and apply it here. I get the feeling it was religious in the smallest of “r”‘s                         kinda way.

S: How do we make this appetite go viral?
T: Maybe viral is the right word here, but I might suggest “rhizomal” or “entangled”. T-             shirt-worthy: Get Tangled! Or Go Rhizomal!

Susan’s post deserves a close read.  After all it is about epiphany and lightning strikes–both near and dear to everyone who seeks real connection and change.


One thought on “Susan’s Confiteor: Lightning Hits the Sand on the Road to Damascus

  1. I, too, was drawn into Susan’s post. I love your use of GIFs, videos, and annotations. I’m a big Diigo fan, too. I offer my annotated versions of texts to my college students — AFTER they are supposed to finish reading them. And I use Diigo groups in my online courses — really a simple and easy way to get started practicing collective intelligence with a group. Welcome to #ccourses, Terry.

Leave a Reply