I remember when I was quite new to this column, just a month or so in, and someone asked me what it was like to be a columnist. I literally turned around to see who they were talking to before realizing it was me…a columnist!
As a kid I took swimming lessons, and for the rest of my life have been considering myself a swimmer. We spent long summer days at the pool and water-skied on the lake, and I never thought much about what it took to propel myself through the liquid.
Many years ago, I went on a vacation with our two young girls and another mother-daughter duo. It was a lively excursion and a long drive during which all three girls told family stories.
A new group of Johnson Interns will arrive this week to spend a year of service in our area. They will live together in a monastic model of community life that will require some adjustments, especially around food.
Even when my mother’s brain was tangled with the plaque of Alzheimer’s, she always remembered the stairs.
Most afternoons when the sun dips behind the tree tops, I head to the garden. Usually I carry a bucket of scraps out from the kitchen and bring back a few handfuls of plants for dinner. In between, I’ll kneel here and there to poke some seeds into the soft dirt, or pull some stubborn weeds from where they do not belong.
Last week I watched a short video designed by social scientists and brought to life by professional actors. Scene one was a guy in his 20s trying to cut a lock off a bicycle in a public park. Dozens of people passed by, but few paid him any attention. A couple asked “Is that your bike?” and each time he said, “No.” They kept going,
I’ve been grumpy lately, and have blamed it on the weather.
Until this week, it has been too cold, too gray, too windy and too wet. The weather has also been too unreliable … with promised sunny days that were obliterated by clouds before the coffee was done.
I am not alone in this grousing. I have heard others moan about doused plans, soggy grass and frostbitten plants. I’ve heard exasperated sighs when we pull on wool socks yet again and curses when cold rain rolled in on yet another weekend.
The end of this column holds an invitation for you - an opportunity for a good time that benefits a good cause.
But here at the beginning I want to talk about something called Praxis, because that is where this all began. The term “praxis” refers to applying a lesson or a skill. It is about action – doing something that you’ve learned how to do.
Every fall eight young adults come to Chapel Hill-Carrboro to live and serve for a year. Every spring these “Johnson Interns” are challenged to find or create a project to which to apply the lessons they’ve learned from the work and study they’ve done since their arrival.
Gifts come in different kinds of packaging and this one didn’t come in a box, but in bytes. The delivered present was the culmination of a few weeks of encouragement and cajoling.
“You can do it!” “This is the next step!” And, “If you’re ever going to do it, this is the one - it is all women, it is flat and it won’t be hot.”
With those words, and many more, our younger daughter, Amanda, convinced me to sign up for the “Run Like a Diva” Half-Marathon at the end of April.
At this stage in my life I am not around children very often, and when I am with Helena, age 9, her mom is usually around too. If you had asked me if I needed to participate in a workshop on child sexual abuse, I’d have said no. But I participated recently through my association with the Redwoods Group and the Johnson Intern Program. Now I realize someone like me can make a big difference in directly reducing the number of children that are sexually abused.
I learned how to knit at the knees of my friend’s great grandmother. I wasn’t yet 10 years old, and she was pushing 90. Her patience matched her decades, and perhaps my ability to focus exceeded my chronological age.
Sometimes failure can be enlightening. In the week following the presidential election I planned to interview two Republican friends and ask them questions that I thought would prove a theory I held — that behind our outward differences lay significant agreements that could heal the hurts of an election year and move us towards some real solutions for what ails us.