A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sharing the wealth - a friend's novel about Manzanar


Reading, for me, has always been about having conversations.Yesterday, mom called and asked me to come over to pick up an issue of Scientific American about how to build a better teacher. I love Scientific American  because of a lifelong fascination of science that began with my earliest visits to Cherrydale Library, which at the time seemed cavernous.

The lure of a Scientific American was actually a mother's ploy. Mom needed me.

Dad's recovery from an 8 hour surgery, in which two lobes of a lung were removed, has become a test of his will to live and the limits of my mother's patience. For a second time, Mom is dragging Dad back from the brink. Once again, she his primary caregiver, his drill sergeant. She commands him to get up, to walk upon the hour, and eat. Eating is the price of life, a barometer of his health. When he does not want to eat, she obsesses.

I listened to the play-by-play of how the surgeon peeled away the tumor from major arteries. Hours earlier, Mom and Dad had watched the movie of the surgery with the surgeon. The removal of diseased lymph nodes, I learned, only delays the inevitable.

Naturally, I shifted the conversation to how to celebrate life, how to adopt an attitude of gratitude, how to cultivate joy, just as Norman Cousins long ago drove cancer away from his body with a marathon of belly laughter.

I dictated my first publication, The Story of Nature, to somebody who was almost certainly a graduate student or volunteer working for Mrs. Brown, my second second grade teacher at Taylor Elementary School. After a conversation with the Principal, Mom had me pulled me out of my first second grade class, where my teacher had attempted, but was unable to force me to sit quietly behind a desk. To this day, I strongly dislike sitting behind a desk.

The Story of Nature is hilarious in its seriousness. My mom preserved it. Echos of How Man Began, Jane Goodall picture books from Cherrydale library, images of the T-Rex from the Smithsonian, John Wayne movies, and the the Lincoln book from the bookcase in my bedroom reverberate. My facts were confused, lacked the depth of of field of a developed historical perspective, but my voice as a 2nd grader rings out, clear, conversational, and confident.

When I started blogging, my main goal was to simply hold conversations. Often it seems like I am talking to myself. Frequently, I check my stats. Yesterday, I noticed a "hit" from an old blogging friend's blog. I learned that Ms. K. P. Kellenborn has published a novel that deals with the Internment of Japanese Americans at Manzanar, which I will be ordering and must review so that I can share her conversation with others, especially my mom, a wonderful story teller.

The misconception, "I hate reading," never crossed the mind of the 2nd grader who wrote The Story of Nature. My life likely would have taken a different path if my mom had not had me moved to Mrs. Brown's class, where I played with other children who loved to read. Mrs. Brown gave me space to muse incorrectly without too much correction. I can still recite "Stopping By The Woods On a Snowy Evening" from memory.  Great teachers like Mrs. Brown have a talent for making pleasant memories stick.

Tonight, as I ride my eliptical and stationary bike, I will enjoy reading Scientific American, while in motion. Meanwhile, I will be doing professional reading, which might otherwise bore me to tears.