Identity

Telling a Damn Good Story without Words

I was playing a game with two toddlers and another adult. Everybody understood the rules: walk around until you’re instructed to sit down on your choice of colorful silk scarves spread out on the ground. And then we’ll take turns telling stories based on the color we’re each sitting on.

The younger of the two little girls doesn’t yet talk much in a traditional, technically accurate way, though she has specific sounds and understands any and everything. The other three of us have quite a lot to say,

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Why Are So Many People Pissed Off about Miss America?

An Indian-American woman was crowned Miss America this fall. And her coronation led to a firestorm of angry, cruel venting on social media, the perfect platform for cowardly people to spew venom anonymously without repercussion.

A few points:

  • America’s white majority is diminishing, and we’re richer for the diversity.
  • Fear of losing one’s (perceived) position often motivates hate speech. It seems like we’re all looking for someone whom we can consider inferior to ourselves or our people.

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An Off-Key Addition to the Choir

I can’t sing. Not reliably. Sometimes I have thought it was my imagination… but generally, down deep, I’ve been pretty sure this is right.

I love to sing, and I do it, but when I least expect it an awkward squeak or a loud note that doesn’t blend quite right with those around me comes out.

I was in the church choir back at First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia when I was young. And I bow down and kiss the feet of the choir director,

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The Human Touch

I was interested to read about the Loebner Prize competition in which humans try to persuade a panel of scientists that they are human. Judges have typed conversations with people and with computers, and they attempt to tell them apart. In the 2008 iteration of the competition, the judges were fooled 25 percent of the time by these “chatbots.” This Smithsonian article is interesting in describing the ways we all interact regularly with humans and with computer fakes and how we generally (hopefully) know the difference.

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Seeing with the Heart

“Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 

I’ve always loved this quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, which I read and reread as a child.

I was in a coffee shop on a hot summer day. A beautiful young woman walked in. She was the sort of creature who causes heads to turn wherever she goes.

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Ball Marks at the French Open, or What Do YOU Have Eyes to See?

It’s time for the French Open again in tennis. I went once; it was thrilling. On those clay courts, line calls are made by examination of the mark that the ball leaves on the court. There’s no high-tech instant reply screen. An expert chair umpire jumps down and trots over to determine the ball’s trajectory and settles a dispute over whether it was in or out, and the point is decided. I found an old New York Times article about it interesting.

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Keeping My Lies Straight

When I was a kid, I saw a book in a store. I didn’t have enough allowance to buy it, but I still remember staring at the paperback cover and journal-like structure of a book in which I was invited to record the lies that I had told so that I’d be able to keep them straight and not expose myself by forgetting what I’d said to someone. It seemed like such a good idea. And so sad at the same time.

I knew I didn’t always tell the truth,

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Places in My Past

“Of the people in my past, fading faces in a waking dream. And though they never seem to last very long, there are faces I remember from the places in my past…. Sometimes I can laugh and cry, and I can’t remember why, but I still love those good times gone by. Hold on to them close or let them go…,” sings James Taylor in his wistful paean to “good times gone by.”

It’s true. You too, I imagine.

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Say What You Want to Say

Do you do it? Do you say what you need to say?

Or are you building up a permanent lump in your throat, a lump around which you talk and around which you’ll need to learn to breathe and then even think?

Speaking from the vantage point of an older age, it seems that the later in life we start saying what we really need to say, the harder it is to do it. Think about how hard it is to speak up in a relationship where the other party has assumed (because you didn’t tell them otherwise) that all is well…

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Art in His Heart

We know what people’s noses look like. And their haircuts. And what they wear is obvious too.

But we sometimes find out that someone is full of art, crammed with soul, packed with stories… and we realize, well, that we all are a wellspring of unexpected surprises. And that the exterior packaging just isn’t an adequate indicator of what’s inside.

Especially if someone works at a job that requires a soul-concealing uniform.

Today I went to the post office,

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