Always the Student

Photo Always the Student

“It does not take much strength to do things, 
but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what do to”
Elbert Hubbard

First, there’s the line drawn down the center of a piece of paper, noting pros and cons. Then, there’s some research to be done on the subject. Next, I like to get the opinion of others. Young, old, eccentric, intellectual; their views all get mixed into that big black cauldron in my head. If I’m very quiet, I can begin to stir it up and sense what suggestions will start to rise to the top. Asking for advice and being open to criticism and suggestion takes practice. 

Really listening without speaking is even more difficult. Lately, I’ve decided to take advantage of the forced tranquil lifestyle that’s been dealt us all and concentrate on what I can learn from everyone that I’ve come into contact with. Here’s what I’ve found:

  • How an older gentleman reminded me that in the sink or swim restaurant business, his little catfish restaurant (now 42 years old) has endured, due in part to his motto “We do the best we can with what we’ve got.”
  • How 12 women exchanged their weekly lunch outings for brown bags and started using that money to support local charities in my town. Now 250 strong, this powerhouse of a women’s club has donated their time, talents and over $85,000 just last year. 
  • How one young man’s homage to his favorite uncle, who died too soon, sweetly lived on when he sported a bolo tie on a dating app photo and it caught the eye of a lovely young woman whose grandfather was also a fan of the style. To his surprise, on their first date, she sported her favorite bolo tie and the rest was history.
  • How the tides can change when a young man with a simple love of the ocean became an oceanographer and at 84 years of age wrote his first book, enlightening readers as to how tides and currents actually changed the course of history during historic wars. His first book has since been awarded the gold medal by the Military Writers Society of America.
  • How living in a home that is open to the public 365 days a year is not as glamourous as you might think. “Keep your memory short and your skin thick;” this shared from a Duchess who runs a 300-year old castle on 160 acres in England. On her first day, the then young bride, from a farm village who married into aristocracy, was “welcomed” by the staff when she heard them whispering “Have we broken her yet?” 
  • And, last but never least, how JC*, who never ceases to amaze me with her ageless sense of wonder, spunk and positive attitude, has powered through this last year. Whether she’s painting, knitting hats for charity (she was grateful to have one to wear when her power went out recently), playing Rummikub against herself for practice, reading or researching where our first post- COVID family vacation should be, she is the inspiration that reminds me how important it is to have a teachable spirit. 

If, at times, I can scramble out of my comfort zone, with humbleness and modesty at my side, helping me along the way; if I can walk with my arms open and let them be the antennae that captures all of life’s prospects, then I’ll be content to always be the student. 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

Author’s Note:
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Who Was That Masked Man?

Photo Masked Man

The next time you are fussing about wearing a mask, think about Clayton Moore. Starting in 1949 and, until his death in 1999, he wore a mask (over his eyes, not his mouth and nose, but still?!) while portraying the character The Lone Ranger. 

Initially starring on the television series of the same name, he later became the Lone Ranger full time, making nationwide public appearances. Ironically, wearing that mask to conceal his identity made him one of the most recognizable characters in the world. 

As the fictional story goes, he was the sole survivor of an ambush on Texas Rangers. Nursed back to health by Tonto, an Indian who became his loyal companion, they roamed the Old West together, aiding those in need and fighting outlaws while in search of Butch Cavendish, known to be the leader of the ambush. 

Why did The Lone Ranger call his Indian companion “Tonto,” Spanish for “fool?” In return, did Tonto call him “Que no sabe,” Spanish for “(the one) who doesn’t know” or “Kemosabe,” thought to mean “friend” in Tonto’s native Potawatomi language? And speaking of the Potawatomi, how did they manage a $390 million expansion project in order to build a successful casino and hotel in what was once a desolate area in Milwaukee, Wisconsin? This is what you think about when you have a little more time on your hands. 

Come to think of it, I may have more in common with Clayton than I thought. We both understand how hiding your identity behind a mask can make you feel more introspective.

As The Lone Ranger spoke those famous words “Hi ho, Silver, away!” he’d urge his horse to rear up on his hind legs and dramatically descend into a fast gallop, not dwelling on the past, but heading to new adventures. I think I’ll keep that in my saddle bag the next time I need a reminder to unmask my fun loving side. 

Author’s note:
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Curls in Crisis

Photo Curls Crisis

They were cut down into submission for years, never expecting that their time would come again. But, these asymmetrical follicles that tend to make hair curl as it grows, patiently awaited their comeback and what a comeback it was!

This year, a lack of a haircut on my regularly scheduled date continued on for months. Neither hairbrush nor comb could subdue the rampage of ringlets that little by little began to appear all over my head. I likened their appearance on the scene to a field of battle, as they helped each other to unfurl and together rose to independence. 

A blow dryer was no match for these stubborn spirals and soon I realized that letting them dry naturally was the only option. Problem was, there was strength in numbers and I had absolutely no control as to what direction or how they would style themselves each day. 

Thinking myself very clever, I decided that rather than fight them, I would give in and let them part and twist as they wished. But, just as I was getting used to that look, without any warning they rebelled and chose another direction in which to coil. One day, I actually thought I heard them giggling. 

Mornings have been especially difficult. Opening my eyes and seeing Mr. Wiz* smile and say good morning, I contentedly begin my day until I catch my reflection in a mirror and gasp. I look like the child of Margaret Thatcher (as she appeared in the latest episode of “The Crown”) and Don King, the boxing promoter known for his “tall hair.” Each day, I wonder how Mr. Wiz cannot see this; is it true love or does he not have his glasses on yet?

Out of desperation, I subtly introduced my unruly tresses to the bandanna. Folding and twisting it first, I slowly and gently maneuvered it behind my ears and then pushed the front of my hair back and quickly tied it. Surprisingly, they snuggled in and around it. All was well until I took it off and they reverted into rebellion again. 

To the outside, straight haired world, curly hair signifies freedom, strength and independence. I have come to the conclusion that my hair and I just don’t agree. I feel as if I have the wrong head on my body. If you’ve ever switched heads on your dolls, you know just what I mean (though switching Ken and Barbie’s heads did totally confuse my then 5-year old brother for a year or so). 

While my head says I am methodical, my hair says I’m wild and free. As much as I’d like to run in slow motion, shaking my head as my hair defiantly struts its stuff, the real me remembers back to the day when I’d blow dry my short hair quickly in the morning and it would obediently remain in place all day. 

Don’t tell them, but I am considering cutting off my curls. I might keep some in a zip-close bag where, much like a wild animal in a cage, they will behave and can be admired from afar. Who knows? Maybe on special occasions I might glue a couple of curls to my forehead and just for the day, pretend I am actually the girl with the devil may care hair.

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

Author’s Note:
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