I’m at the Association of African American Museums conference observing a panel titled, ‘from Interpretation to Inspiration’ and an older Caucasian gentleman in his late 50’s begins the panel. He is seated next to two Black-American women. The Black American woman to his left is seated next to Black American male and the Black American woman to his right is seated next to a caucasian male. All that separates the audience from the panel, is the table sitting directly in front of the panel. The older Caucasian gentleman beginning the panel, pulls out a red sox base-ball cap, and places it on top of his salt and pepper—mostly salt—short hair. He then asks the audience to shout out words that they would assign to the baseball cap. The hat looks as if it has seen the sun more than God Himself. ‘Run-down’ ‘gray green’ ‘raggedy’ are some of the words that were ascribed to the baseball cap by audience members. After the interpretations of the hat trickle down, he then goes on to tell the audience a story. “I was married for four years until my wife passed away after battling cancer for one year. This is her hat. How many baseball fans are there in the audience?” two out of fifty audience members raised their hands. “so you two know how many baseball games there are in a season, and you also know how long they are. My Wife never missed a baseball game. Not one. And she would watch the entire game, some red sox games last around 4 hours. Once we started dating I learned quickly that I would have to learn how to enjoy baseball. She never made it to Dodgers Stadium, but her ultimate dream was to watch a red sox vs dodgers game at the dodgers stadium. It just so happens that this weekend that I’m in Southern California working, the dodgers and the Red Sox are playing at dodgers Stadium and I’m going to go and wear this hat and fulfill that dream for her” at this point his white face has red blotches all over it and he’s crying. He can barely get his words out. Many in the audience are crying along with him. All are affected emotionally. He then asks yet again, “now, what words come to mind when you look at this hat?” someone in the audience, overcome with emotion shouts ‘love’ and another shouts ‘fulfilling a dream’ and another ‘never ending love’. He went on to speak about the inherent meaning of an object. The duration of the panel was completely thought provoking, but what stuck with me was everyones reaction to his story as well as the utter tragedy of the story itself. Homeboy got married for the first time in his late fifties and was married for only four years until his wife who he was madly in love with—lost a battle to cancer. How tragic! As I scanned the audiences reaction to his story and noticed that most everyone was in tears or somehow affected by his loss, and as I acknowledge my own relating his loss that felt completely unfair, It became clear to me that that’s just how life is. Everyones reaction confirmed that to be true for themselves as well. Life can feel so unfair. You can have honest intentions and put your all into a thing…and it will still fail. Feeling as if your intentions are honest and yet love still does not win can make one feel, well, crazy!
Our life experiences will meddle with and taunt our sanity until we finally embrace that everything in life is temporary, including experiencing ‘life’ in this dimension. Impermanence.
Whenever my sanity gets away from me, the park is where I go to find it again. I’ll follow the ripples in the lake with my eyes, cut bright flowers from ordinary bushes, collect perfectly palated crunchy leaves and gray rocks with silver linings in them. Doing so brings my mind totally to the present, and there is never any threat that exist in the now. Accepting the present as it is—not as i wish it were—and taking complete responsibility for the contributions that my actions have played in making the present what it is. And remembering impermanence. always always always. Puts my soul at ease.