Friday, August 3, 2012

Iconoclasts...Providing Perspective


Every now and then I meet a live one, one that stands out from the crowd. Such was the case the other day when I stopped into the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center looking for art and information on the upcoming pow-wow.

Now, one of the things I've noticed about the folks I'm generalizing about here is: They're much more open. Interrogation doesn't phase 'em the way it does some folks who after a few questions start acting as if they have better things to do. And so it was with Ms. Wynans.



We'd been at it for about ten minutes (just gettin' rollin') when I noticed she kept her hand to her throat and her voice was a bit hoarse, as if she maybe had a cold. Concerned, I asked if it was painful for her to talk. The next thing I knew she was telling me about her tracheotomy. And not only is she a cancer survivor, but she also teaches school.

Now this is unusual. I mean, how many tracheotomists do you know? And how many of them are in public relations and when they're not, put themselves in front of a crowd of youngsters on a daily basis?

And that takes me back to the title of this post. I AM biased, but maybe you too have noticed how women come out the other side of adversity more adroitly than men?

I know a couple of guys who've been to the hospital lately. While the trips weren't minor (we've reached that age, don'chya know?),  the fear and accompanying complaining was terrible!

By contrast, I've known a dozen women who've undergone major surgery, chemotherapy, lost their partners/husbands (divorce and/or death) and, although they didn't cake-walk through it, their flailings exhibited a level of aplomb -- something the guys never had a clue about.

As the conversation progressed, it became evident Ms. Wynans had NOT settled for the conventional responsibilities and materialism. "I mean," she said, "how BORING to do nothing but the same as everyone else." As one who likes to wring the life out of every moment, I watch for folks of similar attitude.....and they're rare.

As we talked she took a fan down off the wall. She'd found it at a garage sale and, since it was hot in the office, she began fanning herself. I admired the fan and after a bit asked about whether it was old or not. She began to play -- hiding behind it, parodying a geisha. Her smile conveyed delight in the moment and made her coquetry wonderful!

So there we were, probably an hour (or two?) into the conversation and laughing like a couple of children!! It's been three weeks now and I'm STILL cogitating over what it is that makes simple fun so delightful. So maybe you'll wanna skip the ruminations that follow, but here goes:

Play requires a willingness to be vulnerable and most are too afraid of what others will think. Some will play with their significant other, but sometimes not even then. But it takes more than courage. (Courage: perseverance when you know you SHOULD be afraid.) It takes "satiable curtiosities" about one's self and what one might become when given an opportunity to grow. And it needs a person who is sensitive to the player's nuances...as individuals and appreciative of their beauty....as human beings.

And our conversation had that feeling. And in the midst of this we touched on immigration. And she said I sounded like Luis Urrea. I didn't know of Mr. Urrea's work, but several days later something (subconscious?) saw The Devil's Highway  in the Halfway library sale. (I'd bucked hay there as a teenager and went to see if it had changed. Not much.)

The Devil's Highway talks a bit about some of the reasons for the mundanity. It's heart-breaking. It'd be so simple to change. And yet, everyone goes on swallowing what they're spoon-fed, doing what they're taught, what they're told.

Travel is fun. But it's people like Ms. Wynans that make it a real pleasure. Oh, the landscapes, sunsets and wildlife (where?!!) are enthralling, but I relish the moments when I encounter someone who gives me pause for thought. And it's amazing how the sunshine seems brighter and the moonlight more captivating.

Iconoclasts: Perspective, AND glimmers of hope.


12/24/15 - I'm getting the Solstice cards out and couldn't find Ms. Wynans' address. I went online to look up The Interpretive Center's and discovered her obituary. I had hoped to see her again in 2016. I wish you could have met her. She was amazing!!



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