Way off the beaten path and into the wilds (vicariously)

President* Trump,

I’m sure this isn’t going to surprise you at all, but I won’t be tuning into your nihilistic hate-fest this week. There will be plenty of updates about it and at times it’ll feel as though I went ahead and subjected myself to the negative frenzy, but even in the name of research or of getting to know one’s adversary, I won’t do it (as if you and your ways aren’t exceedingly well known by now). I am curious, though, which of your knot-head “advisors” came up with the idea of trying to freak people out with the specter of more widespread civil unrest should Biden win? Not saying it won’t work (knot-heads abound these days), but the illogic of claiming that something that started on your watch is going to get exponentially worse under someone else’s watch is pretty nervy. And are you really going to have that crazy St. Louis couple that was waving an AR-15 and a pistol at peaceful protestors endorse you? That’s some barrel scraping, for sure. Better watch out for splinters in your tongue.

Ok, that’s way more than enough of you.

Time to move on to much more affirming (and interesting) topics…. Yesterday after YouTube church I felt like I needed some more poetry so I clicked on the tab I’d been saving from Maria Popov’s Brain Picking newsletter where she suggested that I might need a poem as a pick-me-up. Well, one poem led to another and I ended up listening to Leland Melvin read Pablo Neruda’s passage about the Chilean forest. It’s an absolutely beautiful piece and Melvin brought it alive – I highly recommend it (https://www.brainpickings.org/2020/04/26/leland-melvin-reads-pablo-neruda-chilean-forest/).

So you may not know who Leland Melvin is (I didn’t), but he has a pretty unique perspective on forests and forest preservation in that he was a NASA astronaut who served on the International Space Station in 2008. He got to see our little blue ball from space and as Popov put it, he “returned loving it all the more passionately.”

The other thing of note is that Melvin is Black, which is still extremely rare among NASA ISS astronauts and makes him one of the proverbial hen’s teeth of people who are not white men who have served on the ISS. And, as it happened, the next saved-up poem I clicked on by Robin Coste Lewis was about Matthew Henson, who I also didn’t know until I looked him up. Turns out, Henson was a Black explorer at the turn of the 20th century who was credited with reaching the North Pole first (in 1909) ahead of Robert Peary (the two worked together on various expeditions over 23 years). The poem is entitled Using Black to Paint Light: Walking Through a Matisse Exhibit Thinking about the Arctic and Matthew Henson and you can read it here: https://poets.org/poem/using-black-paint-light-walking-through-matisse-exhibit-thinking-about-arctic-and-matthew?mc_cid=4983256422&mc_eid=03fcdf422b) — it’s gorgeous and brilliant and there’s tons one can learn from it.

And how about that awesome coincidence of leaving a powerful, hopeful sermon delivered by a Black woman and getting to immediately “meet” two courageous Black explorers who did their things nearly 100 years apart, both defying the norms of their times in the boldest of fashions?

It was a really good morning. So good, in fact, that my evening discovery that .csv files aren’t my friends couldn’t put a damper on it.

May we all be safe to explore and discover cool new stuff.
May we all be happy to “meet” (or meet) new people and get to know their feats.
May we be bold and courageous wherever we are, doing whatever we are doing.
May we accept and treasure coincidences.

Tracy Simpson

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