Thank you, Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali courtesy of Brett Jordan

Muhammad Ali courtesy of Brett Jordan

Imagine showing up to grad school, embarking on a journey toward that thing you love, chasing after your passion, and in the process moving closer to your deep down self . . .

Imagine being in the lobby of the historic hotel that will be your dorm for the next ten days, downtown Louisville . . . and you’re standing at the elevator between lectures, just standing by yourself, waiting, when this man shuffles by, slightly stoop-shouldered, moving slower than you might imagine him to move, and you think, is that . . . no, it can’t be . . .

and the man who has passed now, stops, shuffles back . . . he stops his own journey, pauses, and shuffles back to see you. This man who is somehow older than he is, somehow larger than he is, as if he is able to swell up out of himself just by being . . .

and he smiles, then puts both trembling hands up, thick fingers balled into fists and there is no doubt, frail as he almost seems, there is no doubt he has the strength to do whatever his soul wishes . . .
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Stories I Inherited

Hobos Walking the Rails

Hobos (Bindle Stiffs) Walking the Rails

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” – John Lubbock

There are two small scenes in my favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, that reveal a truth I had never contemplated until I was in my twenties: how we tend to see the people in our lives who were here before us only as the person they are to us, not as someone who’s lived another life.

It’s a perspective thing.

The first scene I’m alluding to is when Scout and Jem watch their dad, Atticus (the man they perceive as so-old-he-can’t-play-football-or-do-much-of-anything-worth-doing-outside-a-courtroom), as he’s asked by Sheriff Tate to shoot a rabid dog and Atticus does this seemingly impossible feat with his one and only shot.

The surprising prowess Atticus demonstrates in that scene, of course, is juxtaposed against his inability to win the larger battle he’s currently fighting, but through the responses of Jem and Scout it also reveals how, when we’re born, we enter into all these other lives.

We just tend to get so caught up in our own that we don’t often recognize the parts of our story that came before us.

And how would we even know to look?

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