HOPE IN AN ARABESQUE

I live in the South, in a medium-size city in the central part of North Carolina. We’re 2-3 hours from the Appalachian Mountains and 3 1/2 hours from the beach. We have long, hot, humid summers and mild winters.

I grew up in the Midwest and we moved to North Carolina in 1968, when I was a sophomore in high school. I missed the worst of blatant segregation. The “Colored” and “White” signs were gone from water fountains and bathrooms. But the first time we drove east from Raleigh to go to the beach we drove past a billboard in the county next to ours that said “Welcome to Klan Kountry.”

50 years (!!) later, things are different. My city has been a haven for immigrants for years and we often hear other languages at the grocery store. We have a gay woman on the City Council and a Newcomers School for the kids of recent immigrants. At street festivals and concerts in the park we all come together peacefully–whites, African Americans, Asians and others from all over the world.

The other day, I went to our nationally known Aquatic Center for water exercise. While I bobbed and marched and skipped back and forth in a lane, I watched several instructors giving swim lessons to little kids. The kids’ parents and siblings sat together on some bleachers. Some were African American, some were white, some looked to be Indian or Pakistani and some were Asian. The instructors were white and African American, male and female.

One pairing especially caught my eye. The instructor for this one-on-one lesson was a massive African American man who looked like he had been a lineman on a college football team. The student was a little bitty white girl in a bright pink suit with a bright pink swim cap and bright pink goggles.  She reminded me of my granddaughter. She was reluctant to go in the water so he coaxed her down the long ramp for wheelchairs. She took a few steps into 6 inches of water and went into an arabesque ballet pose.

So did he.

They took a few more steps. Now the water was about a foot deep. She held the bar beside her and arabesqued again.

So did he.

After one more arabesque, they made it down the ramp and the lesson began. Today, two days later, I saw them again. They entered the water down the ramp the same ballet-ic way as before. When they got all the way into the pool, she was put her face in, kicked, and moved her arms to do freestyle and then tried backstroke. She trusted him to hold her up as she floated on her back. I think they were both having fun She hugged him when the lesson was over.

After she left, I had a chance to tell him how much I enjoyed watching them. He told me she was 3 years old and adamantly refused the first 2 days to get near the water. The day of the poses was her third day. I told him they were the best thing I’d seen all week.

Don’t give up, my friends.

We are making progress. It just doesn’t make the news.

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Published in: on August 9, 2018 at 1:57 pm  Comments (2)  
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Bigger, Faster, Better? Must I?

Must I update or upgrade or retrofit?  They all mean the same thing;  I looked them up in the dictionary: “one thing is replaced by something better, newer, more valuable, etc.” I’m usually okay with things, especially my electronic things, just as they are–Good Enough.  Bigger, faster, better, newer, shinier, cooler–it’s getting harder to keep up.

This morning, I allowed my iPhone 4 to upgrade itself to iOS-7.  I don’t think it’s required.  So why do it? Because my phone keeps telling me an upgrade is available.  Because the retired man I live with keeps asking me if I upgraded yet.

“It’s so cool,” he says.

“What’s so different?” I say.

“The way the icons look,” he says.  “Plus, they fixed some bugs and it will work better.”

“Okay, ” I sigh.  Maybe it is better.

And so I surrender to “progress” again.

On my deathbed, will I check for new upgrades for my phone or my computer?  Lord, I hope not.  Will I wonder what upgrades and new stuff my grandchildren will see?  Maybe.

They are young.  They have energy.  They are curious about and excited by anything new or different.  They will participate in the evolution of our culture and our globe.

As “Amma,” as grandmother, I help nurture each child’s unique true self.  I model (I hope) love, honesty, compassion.  I remind them we are all, everyone on this earth, God’s children and, therefore, we all have value. They will need those traits and that knowledge, no matter what new stuff appears.

Published in: on October 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm  Comments (6)  
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