• Posted: Jan 01, 2012 11:20:40
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The two sets of ladies pictured above are not the same set of ladies. But, they could be. The two images were made nearly forty years apart. The image on the left was made at a chapter gathering of the Red Hat Society, an interesting group celebrating female individuality. The one on the right is a bit more parochial, a school-wide, ladies only, all night high school pajama party. The photographer, the only male on the scene, was invited to cover the event for the local newspaper and high school yearbook. Activities included: open gymnastics, volley ball, piggy-back jousting, dancing to records (yes, records), sliding around on polished floors, story telling by candle light, group singing, gorging on a huge cake, and a seance wherein one young lady was levitated by her fellows. The images made that night were not especially stellar, this one included. But over time, they have come to hold a modicum of interest, fascination. Put the two images together and you can't help but notice how much we, as humans, change throughout our years.
Each of us has a similar biological beginning. Under mostly romantic circumstances, a sperm from our father joined an ovum from our mother and found viable fertility within our mother's womb. But beyond that common event, the stories of our individual lives have taken very different roads. What particular variables have tipped the balance at any particular juncture is seldom known or fully understood at the time. But looking back, we can sometimes get a sense of what factors pushed us in certain directions. Something we read, an experience we had, a visit with a friend or relative, the example of an admired teacher, a tragedy that limited our choices. We were never quite the same again. And, there was no going back. For better or worse, we were henceforth dented or scarred, shaped and encouraged, fearful or confident. Our character, our life long identity had begun to take shape. And it has never stopped changing.
No doubt, there is a common thread that runs through us all. Collectively, we are a many-eyed creature just waking into consciousness, trying to understand itself. But, your view is not the same as my view. Their view is not the same as our view. Your knowledge is not my knowledge. Their knowledge is not our knowledge. However, the amazing thing is that, through the use of language, we can share. We can pool our understandings, sort through our misconceptions, come to see and understand an improved vision of the bigger picture we all animate. And, in the process, we are very likely to find comfort, pleasure, improved well-being, insight and inspiration, as well as far larger reasons to cooperate with one another than to fear or fight with each other.
As you look back on what has been and consider what is to come this holiday, may you find renewed faith in the wisdom of sharing knowledge and cooperating toward wholesome and healthy outcomes. And may the changes we will all inevitably go through during coming months leave us very much wiser and more sustainably enriched.
Saturday, December 9th, 2006
Stony Lake MI
Friday, February 24th, 1967