Good-Bye Stephen…and Thank You!

Stephen Hawking passed away this week.

When I heard the news there was a certain element of sadness…which was more for his family than anything else.

This was a man who lived a remarkable life…to its fullest!!!

And what a life!  He was a remarkable human and man who had a remarkable career.  He was funny, charming and immensely inspiring.  Stephen leaves a legacy where he challenged all of us to think, to really think.  Deeply!

Despite his physical ailments Stephen enjoyed life through 76 years on this planet.

Some of the things I loved about this man was his humility and humour.  He did not swell to the ego of academia.

His writings reached out to all of us and invited regular folk the opportunity to really understand on a level never before offered to ideas never before contemplated nor comprehended or shared before.

That was his brilliance in a nutshell.

Stephen was challenged constantly by his peers and always answered them with quiet honesty and fact.

I loved his curious mind and his desire to explore one of our most baffling and intriguing frontiers…the space time continuum.

At times in my life I have felt an connection on some strange level to Stephen because of my own interest in time and its very concept.

I am certainly no physicist…and so far from the very notion it is just crazy!

You see I had a fear of numbers in my youth.  I am a visual learning.  Text books back in the day did little to impress formulas on my youthful self.  Memorizing things was the way to go for a time, though what practicality of what I was trying to embed into my neurons made little to no sense and consequently slipped into the depths without consequence.

I did come to realize that this world we inhabit is ruled by numbers to a certain degree and in many ways I felt I’d been left behind as I just didn’t get it.  Not at all.

As I got older these interests that I had in time, in space  I began to embrace in my late 30’s.

I began picking up books and those books, such as ‘A Brief History of Time’  I read with a voracious appetite.  Not only were doors opening but ideas were springing forth and thoughts with regard to exploring the ages.

I watched shows, documentaries and I  hungered for knowledge.  Wanting, desiring, needing.

Like billions of people before me and I am certain the billions that will follow, I wanted to know where we came from and what our purpose was.

I was a single mother with a beautiful child.  I can recall, on one of those nights when sleep just would not come, I slipped from the house in my red velour house coat and sat on the curb in front of my rental home with smoke in hand gazing up at the stars above.

And I looked up into the night sky and pondered for a moment if another being was gazing out from their home planet into this great expanse we call space wondering if someone was looking out at them just as I was.

Pink fuzzy slippers peeked out beneath  the house coat as my cigarette burned down and then I ground it out after one last drag.

I wondered if they ever felt the way I did, and in that moment which is about 28 years ago, I felt an energy move through me.  Powerful, quiet and remote.

With the underlining message ‘I was not alone!’

And I felt mesmerized, connected and defined all in one swift moment.
I’ve had these sensations a few times, though they’ve been sparing, in my quest to connect.

Perhaps it is just the human condition.

Yet these moments are, in my mind, defining ones.  They are moments that give me pause and shape and direct or re-direct my life.

And Stephen Hawking is one of those whose energies, just by the words he has written touched me a way I had never known.

Having read his work I realized the things I thought about, the things I was ‘secretly’ exploring were not foolish or stupid notions and they certainly were not secretive.

In fact, Stephen Hawing’s work confirmed that my odd curiosities had merit.  Maybe, just maybe I had the makings of a brain after all.

And this came from a girl whose beginnings were demeaning, from a girl who had not had the privilege to finish high school; this from a girl who had been homeless at 16 years of age….and from a girl who was trying so desperately to  be a woman her young daughter could look up to and respect.

The way I saw myself back then was dismal at best as I lacked self-confidence in the worst way.

Yet I read and those books, articles and everything in between they stamped their collective meanings and interpretations on me.

Some I  held fast to these readings, dissecting and  observing everything, while others I questioned and reviewed before I spit them out.

Even those that I did not agree with helped me to learn and grow.

I look at someone like Stephen Hawking who had this fabulous mind, so well tuned, and it was this muscle that rendered him genius.  Those neurons that fired collectively from abstract thought to cohesive and formative ideas that were then developed into factual principles that challenged all of us.

Stephen has offered this world a deeper, more complex understanding of our own  humanity in many ways.

And here I am on this Friday evening after a long week at work, in a local pub and some four beer in, considering this planet, this thing we call space and the concept of time itself.

What does it mean?  What is it?  And where does it go?

Considering this thing we call life, I ask and challenge myself, here and now, what can I do to give back to this world, this planet to make it better?

Is it even possible?

Still the chance that there is some simplicity to all this  that we must try.  We are increasing in numbers on this planet,

Perhaps if we all try to:

  • Respect each other
  • Respect this planet we inhabit
  • Conserve our usage of her resources
  • And never ever forget to love!

We can make it a difference.


Can We Be Kinder?

I have ritually packed up my gym bag for a Monday morning workout every Sunday night for the last month, however, I have felt my muscles were a bit too tight still from my long run on Sunday morning and have begged off.  Monday has now unofficially become a recovery day.  Such was the case this morning.  An odd night of sleep as well.  At one point I thought I heard my phone ringing and then had this dream with a ticker tape running underneath whatever it was I was participating in the dream having slipped from memory already.  Strange.

We had a bit of a howler last night as well.  A lot of wind and rain throughout the night.  I like to keep my window open a little bit to get fresh air coming in, even when it is cold out.  Something quite delightful about being bundled up under the warmth of my blankets.

I was driving in watching the birds wind surf.  I have seen the gulls many times on the shore line just float in mid-air.  They don’t move all that much.  Just a gentle sway back and forth as they ride the air current.  This morning I watched as a crow caught an undercurrent and was suddenly thrown off its flight pattern and was pushed toward some telephone lines.  It fought the current to regain its balance and avoided collision.

The weather is now beginning to calm.

I had a really good weekend.  Again, I have been in a rather introspective frame of mind these days.  I was checking my Facebook page after breakfast yesterday and one person posted a picture of Steven Hawking.  The caption was something along of ‘Disabled?  Smartest man in the world!’  I commented about the labels we tend to attach and that I felt we needed to move away from this.  Steven Hawking is physically challenged but he hasn’t let that deter him.  The response wasn’t quite what I anticipated.  There was agreement then a rant about kids using bullying as a scape goat and parents who are too protective and that school should be a ‘bootcamp to toughen them up for the real world’.   A comment also indicating that we were raising a generation of wimps.

I respectfully disagreed with this analogy.  In my mind words are one of the most powerful tools we possess and they are often tossed out without much thought given to their meaning or the effect they will have.  How many of you have said something in a moment of anger or hurt that you wish immediately after the words have left your mouth that you could take them back?  I would say it is highly likely we all have experienced this.

I pointed out in my rebuttal as well that with the onset and convenience of social media, cruelty seems to have reached new heights.  Why, I wonder, do certain people want to antagonize someone?  To what point?  It makes no sense to me.  None.

Has this instrument known as the internet allowed us the anonymity to become these hateful, wretched beings who sit behind a faceless screen spewing god knows what and pretending to be what as a result, I am not certain.  Does it really make someone feel good to attack someone in such a way?

The other question I pondered was the issue of parenting.  Had the pendulum swung too far?  Had parents become over protective from unseen threats (real or imagined?).

Hard to say really. I know, being a parent and having actually had a rather interesting conversation with my daughter regarding this subject, that one of the keys is respect.  Show your child respect and it will be returned.  Despite the hardships of being a single parent, despite the daily worries of making ends meet, despite the fact that I was fighting unseen demons of my own that not even I was aware of at the time, a profound love existed.  There was never any sacrifice on my part.

On the contrary, I have always treated being given the role of mother and honour and privilege.  One thing my daughter told me, is that regardless of the hardships, she always appreciated that I spoke to her in a manner that made her feel that she mattered and that she had a voice.  I always took the time to explain my decisions and to explain the ways of the world, or at least my limited knowledge of it at that time.

I told her upon her birth I had but one desire.  To become a woman she could respect and be proud of.  She smiled then and said ‘Mission accomplished.’

I never abused her nor could I.  Got mad a few times. Got frustrated many times but she always knew when testing the waters, as kids will do, when she was defeated in her quest.  And I often told her the reasons as well so that she might learn and carry that with her.  To just say ‘No’ somehow just didn’t suffice.

The thing parents need to do more than anything really is listen to their children.  Know too, one of the things my daughter pointed out was that she remembers all the time we spent together…not the gadgets she was given (and there were not very many).  There were families we knew who had a TV in every room of their home and they never really talked to each other.  Kind of passed each other in the halls and kitchen.  Strange.

But I hope that at some point we can lose this attitude of labeling everything. Of passing judgements, of hurting someone with our words because we sit behind a computer screen where no one can see us.  Say a kind word.  If you are in disagreement, reply respectfully.  That was what I did yesterday.  My Facebook friend is entitled to their opinion as I am mine.  Our opinions can be changed through debate and enlightenment and that is what I will endevour to do.

Offer a smile and what comes back to you is just amazing.

Peace out everyone.