It was a manic morning of vacuuming, folding, and mopping. The scent of baked goods mixed with the smell of fresh-cut alfalfa pushing through dancing kitchen curtains where pans of confections cooled. My father urgently demanded that I bathe and put on church cloths as he emerged mid-day from the bathroom clean shaven, wreaking of Aqua Velva and wearing a freshly pressed short-sleeved madras shirt rather than his field clothes. All this primping and scurrying signaled one thing: we were getting visitors to the farm. Relatives were coming, relatives from far away.
Uncle Andrew and Aunt Gladys moved to the west coast in the late 40s and did well for themselves. Every few years they would return during the summer and pull into the driveway with a spotless car that had never seen salty winter roads. It was like an alien spaceship with exotic license plates and leather interior, unlike our pick-up truck with homemade blankets on the bench seat that kept stray coils from poking us in the butt. Their clothes, their accents, the way they spoke, the way they spoke to me, and the things they said were so different from anything I knew. They came to represent everything “out there.” Like Steinbeck’s Jody in The Red Pony, they brought a world to me that was beyond the horizon, beyond what I knew.
Some years ago I watched the documentary Hoop Dreams, which I highly recommend. It was about two inner-city boys who used basketball to get beyond their reality. I came away from that movie understanding that the two most important driving forces in their lives were opportunity and aspiration. They may not have known anyone in their neighborhood working in professional fields but legends existed of others who were given an opportunity to change their circumstances because of what they could do on the court. Likewise, seeing the possibilities my relatives represented allowed me to aspire to my own. Opportunity and aspiration is even more important for the LD person. It’s hard enough at times to find those things we aspire to, not to mention the opportunities to do so, while balancing the differences that we live with. So, how do we ensure that the LD person has both? Think about how opportunity and aspiration have influenced your life and write me a note.