Wednesday, May 09, 2012

An Extraordinary, Ordinary Week

Juniper Canyon - WA State
Last week was just one of those - an extraordinary, ordinary week - one in which a life, or lives, or many lives were changed by small everyday actions.  It's taken me really until today to unload it all from my mind.  Family birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, training runs, hikes in unknown canyons, new acquaintances - just an extraordinary, ordinary week.....I know, it's the third time I've said it!

One of the birthdays was a dear brother's, one of them was for a 90 year old friend's.  Both men in their own ways extraordinary, ordinary men - having accomplished a great deal in their lives but seldom speaking of their prowess. 

The 90 year old - How must it be to live 90 years and still be full of life, love, not to mention your right mind?!  With a lively lady friend on your arm and a skip in your step even if aided by a cane?

And the brother - still a mystery to his sister, wondering what goes on in his mind, what makes him happy - the speed of the bike (I mean a big bike), the footfalls on a jog when he expected his lungs to have claimed him at a young age, the giggle of his grandchildren as he stands on his head?

The camaraderie of women young and old packaging custom made chocolates for a YWCA fundraiser luncheon - watching each other carefully that no chocolate was "popped" rather than packaged:)  The luncheon celebration itself - with a speaker extraordinaire.  A former career Naval Officer and retired Navy Captain, Barbara Bell by name - a pioneer in the integration of women at the Naval Academy, to grad in her flight school and pilot "with distinction" in Naval Test Pilot School.  She's flown F-14, F-15, F016 and F/A-18 planes - again an extraordinary woman now sharing her life by leading and mentoring women (and men) both young and old.

As speaker of the YWCA luncheon, Barbara spoke candidly to women and men of all ages about her living out the life of a minority woman among men, sharing her dramatic journey from supportive parents (she had to squeeze them a little for support of her education) into the highest ranks of the navy.  In an extraordinary act of graciousness, Barbara took time prior to the luncheon to meet with a group of YWCA sponsored Hispanic teen girls, telling them the sky was the limit for them in more ways than one.  Not a recruiting speech for the navy but a recruiting speech for their claim of life's rewards. 

An hour spent volunteering at the local Farm Labor Camp, engaging in tutoring, talking, just generally engaging with grade school boys and girls - seeing the light in their eyes when a new craft or skill was tried and conquered - a whole new demeanor from last year's sullen, angry child - this year smiling and eager to learn alongside his senior adult male tutor - ordinary? No, extraordinary!!

A hike in the sunshine into an unknown but from the distance mountain canyon with geology and biology professors as our guides - about 40 of us - along a narrow trail at times, one slip on a rock and but for a craggy sagebrush, which broke her fall and prevented a disaster,  we could have lost one of our women hikers.  She being an octogenarian at least - none of us knew her age exactly but she was a shining star of the hike.  One particular sandy (the geologist explained why the sand was suddenly in the middle of our rocky trail), extremely uphill, slippery slope must have been a challenge to her as it was to many of us 20 years her junior, but she never let on that it wasn't just another extraordinary, ordinary day!

How many extraordinary, ordinary days do we let pass by without acknowledgment - many I'd guess, but they feel very good in recollection and in gratitude I give thanks that I'm able to celebrate them, healthy, full of life, and mind - ordinary?  No, extraordinary!!!

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