…I was thinking that sometimes inspiration isn’t so bold that it’s wearing a velour jumpsuit. Sometimes it’s as simple as a cartwheeling spider or a rainbow tree. Noticing (and seeking out) beautiful eccentricities enhance my life. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
So, picture this:
A young black man is scheduled as keynote speaker to give a lecture to an array of high schoolers. Future author Kevin Hines is in that audience; battling with the extreme lows and highs of bi-polar. When this speaker arrives and takes the stage, the students can see he has swagger. He’s got on dark sunglasses and a navy blue velour jumpsuit. His afro is higher than most and a ‘pick comb’ rests askew within it. He’s carrying an old school boom box which is blasting hip hop music. When he speaks, it’s with an accentuated slang: “So whatchya’all think of me?”
Smirks, nods and odd looks all around.
The speaker turns off the boom box and sets it at his feet. He unzips and removes the velour jumpsuit; revealing his true attire: a freshly pressed and tailored suit and tie. Then he removes the afro (just a wig) and puts eyeglasses on his face. His own hair is neatly trimmed. He surveys the room then; and in a clear and carefully articulated voice, asks, “What do you all think of me now?”
He follows all this with a powerful speech about the power of perception. More later about that…
I just read this book:
I’m Cracked, Not Broken, by Kevin Hines
In this memoir, Kevin jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge because his bi-polar has gotten so bad he thinks he wants to die. Spoiler Alert: He survives (but then that’s obvious because he wrote the book, right?). The above scenario (taken from his book) is about someone who inspired Kevin along his journey to reach some degree of wellness.
I was thinking that sometimes inspiration isn’t so bold that it’s wearing a velour jumpsuit. Sometimes it’s as simple as imagining a cartwheeling spider or a rainbow tree. Noticing (and seeking out) the beautiful eccentricities all around is what inspires me to keep on keeping on.
Amelia Leubscher took the amazing photo above
Jay Hickey took this photo (above) of a tree shedding
This photo was taken by Christopher Martin
These trees (Rainbow Eucalyptis) are real. I asked myself, ‘how can they be real? If they ARE real, why then have I never seen rainbow furniture?’ In fact, the answer is obvious: the insides of these amazing trees are NOT rainbow colored. They are of a pretty wood, but as “ordinary” as any other wood on the inside. But this is no ‘ordinary’ tree. And to be truthful, all trees are amazing, and none are ordinary- but that’s for another blog…
a cartwheeling spider!
I plan to eventually read the book:
Henrietta Lack’s ‘Immortal’ Cells by Rebecca Skloot (see her image above)
It took a year for Henrietta’s daughter to agree to tell her mother’s story to journalist Skloot. Ever hear of HeLa cells? They’re named for Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer who developed cervical cancer in the 50s. What ended up happening next in the world of biology was a billion dollar industry. It was groundbreaking but scientists were careful to keep her identity (and ethnicity?) a guarded secret.
Who was Henrietta Lacks? She was a black tobacco farmer from southern Virginia who got cervical cancer when she was 30. A doctor at Johns Hopkins took a piece of her tumor without telling her and sent it down the hall to scientists there who had been trying to grow tissues in culture for decades without success. No one knows why, but her cells never died. The researcher who’d grown the cells made up a pseudonym—Helen Lane—to throw the media off track. Other pseudonyms, like Helen Larsen, eventually showed up, too. Her real name didn’t really leak out into the world until the 1970s.
Why are her cells so important? Henrietta’s cells were the first immortal human cells ever grown in culture. They were essential to developing the polio vaccine. They went up in the first space missions to see what would happen to cells in zero gravity. Many scientific landmarks since then have used her cells, including cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization.
They Live On.
Sort of (but decidely NOT!) like the way my notes “live on.” I’ve got a red binder filled with poems; typed out carefully, and splotted with some (brand name) ‘White-Out’ corrective fluid here and there; all produced on an old electric typewriter. I’ve got boxes upon boxes of handwritten and computer and typewriter printed notes, scads of details and inspiration about things, places, people, snippets of conversation, “knowledge” and silliness I’ve acquired all my life. For as much information as I gather in the recesses of my brain; and in boxes, and for all the astounding things I learn, I’ll never know every person’s story and all of nature’s secrets. Sometimes I think that the more I know, the less I wish to know, because the world is TOO mean, TOO harsh, TOO unpredictable. And scary. Consider the words of Judge Judy the other day: “This world is going downhill. I’m so glad I’m old.”
Profound thought? Hardly.
I mulled over her statement because it stayed with me for an unnameable reason:
“This world is going downhill. I’m so glad I’m old.”
Mind you, watching her show on some level has always bothered me. I watch this woman’s show as a filler (poor excuse to watch bad TV, I know) to pass time before the news comes on. Her condescension to people she PERCEIVES “lower” than her, inferior to her, and her mean streak has always bothered me. But a true anthropologist at heart, I often expose myself to such things to learn about the other people (often so different than me) who inhabit the planet. I thought about “Judge Judy’s” mumbled statement over and over and finally I came to this… She is a judge, but that’s an understatement. She really does judge everyone she encounters, on a biting, mean spirited, personal level.
I find her part of “the problem.” She’s in a position to effect change, not condescend to everyone (who is always, WILL always be PERCEIVED by her, as being BENEATH her PERCEIVED superiority.) As I outlined in the first few paragraphs of this blog,
perception is a powerful thing.
Perhaps she just doesn’t know how to look deeper and see everyone’s potential. True, a lot of the characters that parade by her desk seem like the dregs of society. But then central casting has chosen the extremes of society’s real cases to come before her; the characters who will make “good TV.” But why not use the podium to offer a tidbit of encouragement? Quote: “I’m sitting here behind this desk, not you, for good reason. I’m smarter than you!!!” unquote
What good is knowledge when it’s not used for the good? When apathy sets in, it seems to me it’s a suit of armor. I like to believe it can be taken off; as surely as a velour pantsuit can be unzipped. Her comment struck me as a mega-sad point of view. I don’t want to ever utter a statement like hers. If this writer does sink to that apathetic depth of hopelessness someday- someone please alert me immediately.
I’ve come to know-
It’s the cards from friends with handwritten messages of goodwill; it’s the scraps of paper with my mother’s handwriting on it that I end up cherishing, not the boxes of knowledge. The knowledge I need is in fact inside the signatures of signed birthday cards and notes I saved which came from my parents’ place: a shopping list in her cursive writing. (Get the diabetic juice!) A story I published in 1999, which I found in my mother’s bedside stand; with her cursive writing in the corner: KIM’s STORY; SAVE THIS!… these are the word treasures I’ve amassed.
Happy Mother’s Day (in Heaven) Carol Francelia
I wonder if she saw me, the day before Easter, when I lopped off the tip of my thumb… It probably reminded her of the infamous 1994 Thanksgiving incident when I accidently put a serrated steak knife ALL the way through the palm of my hand. It came out between two knuckles on the other side…
But that just comes with “my” Aspergers: clumsiness. My friend Starr calls my thumb angelic. Truth is, I’m going to have a scar. It seems to me that my thumb has a yarmulka. In the words of my Goddaughter, “Mozel tov!, thumb!” Another example of my clumsiness, or an opportunity to laugh at my self? It’s a bit of both!
I know this:
-we aren’t on Earth to pursue an ever present relentless quest for money, Miss judge, it’s bigger than that. And curiosity hasn’t killed this cat yet.
Speaking of Earth, did you know 3 Earths could fit in Jupiter’s red spot alone? True. It also rains diamonds on Jupiter. It rains diamonds on Uranus too! That’s not a sick pun, I’m being factual here. The other planet on which it rains diamonds is Neptune. So there you have it; I’ll leave you with that.
Read more about Henrietta (after you “like” this blog. PLEASE?): http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/henrietta-lacks-immortal-cells-6421299/#oydrUzDkT5XMblXV.99
cartwheeling spiders: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/06/new-species-spiders-animals-weird-environment-science-flic-flac/
Rainbow trees are real: http://www.lovethesepics.com/2013/01/living-rainbow-rainbow-eucalyptus-most-beautiful-tree-bark-on-earth-36-pics/