Djcnor’s Weblog

Wondering Why You’re Here

Posted on: March 22, 2009

Everyone does it. And if you have an ounce of spirituality, you probably, just once in a while think “There! That was one of the reasons! That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been around to do what I did that made it possible.”

If you aren’t in the UK, you may never have heard of Jade Goody. She was, everyone acknowledges, a pretty ordinary person. Nothing special in looks. Certainly nothing special in book knowledge or in sensitivity regarding other people. And she had an ordinary woman’s heart, the kind that enables her to love a man who makes mistakes and enables her to do extraordinary things to ensure a better life for her kids. She didn’t live very long, just 27 years, and all but 8 of them in total obscurity.

But she had something, maybe a kind of street smarts, maybe just enough sense to recognize the kind of opportunity that rarely comes to such as her and take full advantage of it. She also had the grace, when things went terribly wrong, to let what was a personal catastrophie be shared, even publicized, for the sake of her boys and for the sake of other young women who might otherwise find themselves in Jade’s situation.

Because of Jade, young English women have turned up in droves for pap smears. Even I, at 58, checked to see when my last had been. Some of those tests have been positive for cancer. And more than one young woman has said that without Jade, she would not have gone for the test, her cancer would not have been caught very early on, and she would almost certainly have died young as Jade did.

Me, I often think I’m here to do those things that most folks think make no sense and show they are survivable, as my motto says, to reveal options by living them. Maybe I don’t really flourish as a result of making these choices, but I’ve sure built up a multitude of stories. And in my deviant opinion, it’s not the one with the most things who wins, it’s the one with the most best stories, and I’m winning.

What are a few of the strange choices I’ve made? Well, the first was probably choosing to write my Ph.D. dissertation in a way that would be understandable to ordinary folks rather than just other scientists, because I thought the wait for scientific information to be put to use was made longer by it being written up in such a stilted fashion. (I’ve since found out that I have a famous kindred spirit in this respect by the name of Oliver Sachs.)

The result? I was told to go back and write my research up again in the customary fashion, though they admitted outright that I’d done enough research for two Ph.D.’s. Before I agreed to do that, I challenged them with the point that if I refused, they would have rejected someone they admitted was a perfectly good scientist, and I got them to agree to pay me while I did the rewrite. But there was another result. I discovered I had a talent for making science accessible, a talent that I have put to use in an assortment of ways over the years, including in my tutoring. Tomorrow’s interview is with a company that provides itself on conveying science in plain English.

Next, once I finally got that Ph.D. defending the new version (I kept the first version for myself), I decided to turn down a post doc, leave science for a while, and see if I could make a living writing and making crafts. The result? I lasted about three years, then had to go back to science for lack of money. More results? At that defense, one professor, hearing what I intended to do, said “You can’t do that! You have to wait until you’re established as a scientist before you propose any such thing!” I did it anyway. But imagine my surprise when I came back to science! The very scientist who had told me that was nowhere to be found. He had taken a year off to go around the world on his boat! More results? I found out I was a designer! I couldn’t follow a pattern to save my soul without changing this and that and the other until the result bore no ressemblance to the garment I would have made following the pattern.

I may not flourish. I’m certainly not flourishing right this minute. But I might get that job I interview for tomorrow. And even if I don’t, I like the results of revealing options by living them.

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2 Responses to "Wondering Why You’re Here"

despite her personal flaws, it is tragic that Goody passed on at such a young age, and on Mother’s day

I have read somewhere that the terminally ill or very old often manage to hold on long enough to reach a particular date, the birth of a grandchild, a child’s first day at school, a spouse’s birthday. I wonder if, for Jade, Mother’s Day was that day, though I suspect she hoped to live through it rather than just barely to it.

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Djcnor’s Weblog

  • @KathrynGoldman Saw your blog post on famous people in fiction. Have character who is supposed to be dead, turns out not to be. OK? 3 months ago
  • I'm back! I haven't posted in a long time, but since Joanie Freeman and I won Charlottesville SOUP, I feel the need to return. 4 years ago
  • Haven't been here on my new iPad. Page looks totally different. Where is the option to reply? And where are the RT's? 5 years ago
  • RECALL LAMAR SMITH< PROPOSER OF SOPA< WHO HAS CALLED THE WEB BLACKOUT A PUBLICITY STUNT! PLEASE RT!!! 5 years ago
  • @The_Puck Same to you. You denial is damaging to yourself and all you care about, assuming there must be some of those. 5 years ago
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