Archive for August, 2014

Books Are Ammo for Your Brain

August 20th, 2014 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Reading & Recommendations

Humans invented storytelling to explain things to others that they hadn’t experienced themselves. It’s a way of passing on information, but also inspiration and empathy. Eventually oral tradition evolved to writing. Which means, since the invention of writing, we read to understand what is different from our own experience. Reading has the power to make us feel and understand people who are radically different than we are–to encounter their stories as practically our own. When this happens, I believe it’s much, much harder to see these folks as very different from ourselves. Which makes it a lot harder to judge, or hate, or commit violence against them.

Reading can be an excellent escape into blissful ignorance (and sometimes that is necessary), but it is, at its best, an extremely powerful weapons against ignorance.

Here are a few books that have helped me understand and empathize with folks walking a very different path from mine. I’d love to hear yours.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers,  Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff, Born Confused by Tajuna Desai Hidier, Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini, The Color Purple Alice Walker



Things I Learned from Robin Williams

August 13th, 2014 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

When I first learned about Robin Williams’ death, my immediate instinct was to watch episodes of “Mork and Mindy.” Though sometimes competing for first place against the Muppets, Mister Rogers, and Sesame Street, that was my favorite show in the world growing up. It was funny –sometimes way-over-my-head funny– but it was also sweet. Just like Big Bird and Kermit the Frog,  Mork was trying to make sense of the world and his place in it, because he thought that people were wonderful, and wanted to be the best one he could. Mork was the beginning of my tutelage at the feet of Robin Williams, and it only got deeper from there.

Here are a few other things I learned from watching him:

1.  When choosing between making a wish for yourself and making a wish for a friend, choose your friend.  (“Aladdin”)

2.  Eggs are funny.  (“Mork and Mindy”)

3.  Grand Central Station is a place of magic and beauty. (“The Fisher King”)

4.  Spinach makes you strong.  (“Popeye”)

5.  You don’t always have to be the raucous one. (“The Birdcage”)

6.  It’s important to believe in something and work hard for it, even when other people think you’re crazy. (“Awakenings”)

7.  Poetry, art, beauty, and love really are the only things that make life worth living.  (“Dead Poets Society”)

8.  Loving someone and letting them love you back is the strongest form of magic there is.  (“The Fisher King”)

9.  Just because people grow up, that doesn’t mean they can’t have wildly beautiful and powerful imaginations. (“Hook”)

10.  Play is important for people of all ages.  (“Toys”)

11.  Loving someone and liking them aren’t always the same thing. (“Good Will Hunting”)

12.  People are confusing, but they are also really, extremely, uniquely wonderful.  (“Mork and Mindy”)

13.  Even the most brilliant, genius, inspiring artist doesn’t always make good art.  (“Death to Smoochy,” and many others in his filmography)

14.  There is always –always– more going on inside someone than what shows on the surface.  (8/11/2014)

These lessons make me the person I am, and will never be forgotten, but the loss of the man who reinforced them in me is, simply,  heartbreaking.