Breaking

“Just think of him as a hairy toddler,” said my new friend, Audra. I chuckled thinking about what it was going to be like interacting with a six year old chimp while trying to film a story that illustrates how generous a human heart can be.

Of course, I was excited, for a host of reasons. Having never interacted so closely with chimpanzees, I was going to see closeup the emotional lives they lead. I knewthat I was going to be engaged from the moment I began working. But it’s what you don’t know that you don’t know that gets you.

I didn’t know that I was going to learn more about what healing looks like and what happens when one of us decides that breaking is only the beginning of a powerful journey. Most of us, at one time or another, have suffered something that brings us close to losing all faith in humanity. But it is how we heal that is the mark of our character. With a lot of hard work, and some very devoted people, we will show you how one woman helps these beautiful creatures heal, and how she heals in the process. It is a story that needs telling because it tells us a lot about ourselves. It teaches us what kindness and communication can do for the broken. It teaches us what being human should look like.

Thanks to a constellation of stars achieving an unprecedented alignment, I am involved in this project. One of those stars is a man named Adam Neal Gonzalez, who, I KNEW would be perfect to capture the story on film. It took no time at all for the two of us to get emotionally invested in what Audra is doing with the chimps. I’m not going to sugar coat it and make it sound easy. The animals are beautiful and intriguing. But they are also intelligent, territorial and extraordinarily strong. We keep a respectful distance. It is only because humans are good liars that we hold dominion over these creatures. What Audra does to give them a voice through art is nothing short of beautiful.

Chimping
Chimping

I can’t wait to share that beauty with all of you.

All the Knowledge in the World

What if you could assimilate everything you heard? I mean everything.

I began to think about this while sitting with my morning coffee klatch at Starbucks. I am usually the only female member of this daily gathering. I mention that because my perspective is unique among them. I’m female, and those experiences that are uniquely female have often affected what I learned. I can hear you asking what you believe might be a stupid question, ‘what does being female have to do with this?’

Simple. I was raised in a household that believed that marrying well was my best option. It had nothing to do with my intellectual capacity. It had to do with a philosophy that had been learned from the previous generation. Men were the bearers of political, economic and financial knowledge and were saddled with the burden of thinking and providing. What purpose, then, did I serve, I wondered? I, a woman as non-compliant and ill-suited for ornamentation as any I’d ever known. I would never be anyone’s trophy wife.

Why is this important? Well, that’s another very good question. Now, I am nearly fifty and I am amazed by what I don’t know, despite the amount of information I have assimilated, through education and reading. I sit, nearly every day now – a relatively new development in my daily routine – and I absorb information from the six men that make up the other members of the daily klatch. Among them are two financial planners, three real estate investors, business owners and a martial arts expert. Some are a mix of those things. All are highly intelligent, well-read and diversely experienced. Except for two, they are a decade older than me: an important detail. I have at my disposal, every day, an impromptu classroom of makeshift professors discussing how the economy is faring, what is trending in the stock market, what will happen to real estate values in the next few months and the position of world markets at any given moment. They hang out at Starbucks because they can. I hang out at Starbucks because for roughly $8 a day, I get a world class education.

Now, don’t think for a minute I am not already educated. In terms of volume, I am just as well-read in my field. From me, they learn about photography and technology and occasionally, insight into the female mind. But as an insatiable student, I want to learn it ALL. They don’t see themselves as teachers, but I do. In fact, I’ve met many people who can’t comprehend how they can be perceived as teachers. Maybe, I’m just a better antenna than most.  Maybe I care to learn more than most. So, I listen. I ask questions. I assimilate everything I can and I respect and value their knowledge and expertise. I understand that the very nature of learning is that it is constant and cumulative, and no one person can ever fully become the educational equal of another. Education, especially that which is the result of experience, is as individual as a fingerprint.

As Voltaire said, “The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.” But damn it, I’m going to do my best to know as much of nothing as I can.