Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Another extraordinary day in the extraordinary ordinary life of one woman ...

Today I met with 50 young (and not so young) teachers from a program called "Expeditionary Learning." They came from all over the country to experience the park, the memorial, and the collections. It was our time to show off a bit, and share our work.

I was their just-before-lunch speaker and was joined by four other "Rosies" of the period of World War II who shared their experiences informally during lunch. We each have done this before and are beginning to get more and more effective at doing so.

I opened with, "I have nothing prepared (true) so will simply talk until truth runs out." That lasted about 20 minutes, I believe, and was just about right for the setting. Their questions were on target and allowed for an expansion of the themes raised. I'm really beginning to enjoy these outings and becoming really comfortable in making these presentations.

I've learned to invite listeners into exploring those "...lost conversations and untold stories" with me, and relying heavily on the differing realities experienced by my war generation. Find myself wondering if war makes any more sense to those youngsters fighting and working now than it did for those of us who were involved in those years?

I recall saying today that I was so confused at 20 and as an African American young woman that I wasn't all that sure who the enemy was ... strange thing to say. I didn't know that I'd felt that until the words slipped through my lips. It was true. I need to give that more thought before I leave for the NWHP ceremonies in Los Angeles and in Washington, D.C. next week. My words will be weighted differently. The setting will be formal and the occasion sobering. I'll be asked to say a few words of acceptance for being honored, possibly, and I must give some serious thought to just what those words should be.

...but how does one encapsulate a lifetime into a phrase or two?

Maybe it will take no more than to recognize the importance of those wise words of the Monk, David Rendl Nast, "...there are two simplicities; one that comes before and the one that comes after -- complexity." I've lived long enough to understand and appreciate the second of those, and -- to not lose the strength and purity of the first while growing into that understanding.

Those cannot be the words uttered, but reminding myself of the importance they hold in my understanding of the world will help the right words to express themselves -- if I stay centered and just let the life flow through.

... but that won't make sense to anyone but me, I think.

The trick will be to live the moment and not try to prepare for it -- as I did today.

It was a good day well shared.

Photo: Speaking at Saluté Ristorante on the Richmond marina. Only a small portion of the group can be seen, but the room was full and the audience receptive and easy to interact with.

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