April 26, 2016

Happy would-be 96th birthday to my mama. I had to say that first. She has been very present in my thoughts and feelings today. This was a day she would have loved, warm and bright with sunshine and azaleas in bloom.

My mind is still very full from attending the 2nd Annual Digital and Media Literacy Institute at TCRWP in New York. What a privilege to learn among such great thinkers, effective teachers, and caring people. Every time I have been to an Institute, I have been so moved by the quality of the people I meet there, and the extraordinary human beings who teach me. I’m still processing all that I learned!

Being someone who can get lost VERY easily, I had some personal victories while in New York. I safely found the famous knitting store, Purl Soho, and happily spent too much money on yarn. (Knitters will understand.) Then, my friend, Sally, and I navigated to the Conservatory Gardens on the East Side of Central Park and enjoyed more varieties of tulips than I have ever seen before. It made me remember the feeling of being “younger than springtime.”

The last night I was there, I decided to go to Carnegie Hall.  I had never been before and wanted to have the experience. It turned out that I was able to get the last ticket with an unobstructed view for the debut American performance of a Korean composer-pianist, Yiruma. I was one of the few Caucasian faces in a sea of Koreans. It was joyful. Yiruma is famous in Korea for music he has written for TV dramas and movies. His music is contemplative, serene, and beautifully structured. He had his friend and colleague, a cellist Youngmin Kim, play with him. Cello made what was already beautiful, sublime.

But the highlight of the evening was when he invited the audience to view a video clip of a young man named Darius who was born with only 4 fingers, 3 on one hand and 1 on the other. He was also born without the joints and bones below his knees and walked with the assistance of prosthetics. Darius is a teenager now, but when he was very young he showed interest in the piano and taught himself to play. The news clip showed him playing the first piece he learned in entirety which happened to be a piece by Yiruma. It was so incredible to watch and listen. Yiruma proceeded to invite Darius onto the stage. He walked with difficulty, but with joy, wearing a white tuxedo jacket. Yiruma and Darius had rehearsed once together. They sat down and played Darius’ piece and Yiruma accompanied him with his own improvisations. Can you imagine being 15 or 38 and having your debut at Carnegie Hall?

The Korean woman next to me told me that Yiruma means, “in you, hope becomes true.” I have since seen other translations of the name, but I will remember hers after seeing Darius and Yiruma perform in a way that could only bring hope and light into the world.

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April 5, 2016

It was such a little thing, but I knew it could be such big thing. I was at my Kiss-and-Ride duty early on a very rainy day last week. Rain wasn’t expected until early afternoon. Many were caught unprepared and without jackets and umbrellas. My umbrella, in fact, was a ratty, half-broken, tan umbrella that had been my mother’s years ago. It’s home was on the floor of the back seat of my car. Who knows how many times it had been stepped on, or had groceries or books piled on top of it? My newer, more stylish umbrella was in my classroom, but I had no time to get it.

As the children piled out of their cars, some rushed by me. Others said, “Good morning,” as usual. ¬†Kindergartners with ladybug umbrellas, and batman umbrellas, rushed along. One little girl complained that she had to use her brother’s umbrella. It had Ninja turtles on it. There were the tougher kids who acted like they didn’t care about the rain while others protested loudly.

Next, Connor (4th) and his sister, Destiny (K), gingerly got out of their car. They carefully stepped across the stream of water and mud flowing down the gutter. Neither had a jacket or an umbrella. Without a word, Connor put his arm up over his little sister’s head to protect her from the rain. He walked the entire way into the building with his arm over her head. Did she know it was there? Someday, Destiny might remember the day her brother thought more of her than he did of himself and deeper love will fill her heart.