This. Sometimes all you need is some time staring at the ocean to get recentered. In a few days, this is all I’ll see.
I’m reading The Moon by Night, a 1957 novel by Joy Packer, and there is a character, a native South African, who goes by the Americanized name Nimrod. I read that and was like, damn is this book racist. So racist! And, to be fair, it totally is. And xenophobic.
I’ve struggled to find novels set in Africa, though, and the way Packer describes the wilderness of South Africa is beautiful. So I’ve continued to read. (The book, which I bought at a used book sale from the library, also smells all musty and old, which is a definite added bonus.) After a while, two characters are discussing Nimrod and one tells the other that Nimrod selected the name himself. I thought that sounded pretty weird. Later, we learn that Nimrod is a pretty good name because of “Nimrod the Hunter.”
Nimrod the Hunter?
It turns out that Nimrod is referenced in the Bible as the great-grandson of Noah. The Bible says he was “a mighty hunter before the Lord.” So to call someone Nimrod is to call someone a great hunter.
There is (unsubstantiated but much cited) lore around the word that states that in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, Bugs sarcastically refers to his nemesis Elmer Fudd as a nimrod, and the meaning shifted. Forevermore. No longer is nimrod a compliment. I don’t know if that’s the real reason, but I like it if it is.
My book sis still racist. It’s still xenophobic. But it’s also teaching me a lot about South Africa and a little bit of etymology.
On my walks to work I’m listening to The Wright Brothers by David McCullough and boning up on my aviation and Dayton knowledge. I’m also gaining appreciation for the amount of failure that laid the groundwork for flight. So. Much. Failure. And that, by the way, I mean as a compliment.
Man’s ability to fly reshaped the world as we know it. It means we can travel to more places more quickly. It means we can transfer goods and services more easily. It means we can bomb the crap out of somewhere from the air.
I don’t know that I can prioritize one of those over the other.
To get to this place where we can hop in a plane and deliver ourselves, our product or our bombs, two brothers from Ohio tried out a lot of things. They withstood a ton of mockery from people who thought they were wackadoo. I’m listening to McCullough’s reading of this book and grimacing at some of the crash stories. The only way to find out if a plane will hold you and be steered by you is to try it out. And if it doesn’t work? You’re nose-diving into a sand dune in Kitty Hawk.
A running thought I’ve been having throughout The Wright Brothers is that the story of failure is an excellent one. Great inventions are the result of hard work, which we often hear, but also of resilience to keep trying after failing. That’s not a new notion for me, but it’s not one I hear a lot about.
I would love if more stories about inventions and innovations include details about what was tried and flopped. I want the more detail that “she labored for a year until it worked.” I want the celebration of failure. It’s what gives me, all of us, permission to fail and encouragement to keep chugging along.
Because eventually, the plane takes off and the world is changed.
A suitcase. It means adventure. Escape. Freedom. Rejection. Next steps. Goodbyes. Inside a suitcase, you put everything you need for a journey, regardless of whether you’re packing quickly so you can jet out of a place or methodically in anticipation of something great.
This past weekend I was in Dayton with Wonder Boy and we were going through some of his grandmother’s things. She passed away recently, and while no physical thing can replace her or provide true comfort, they can serve as reminders of good times, happy experiences and love.
Being an in-law during moments like those is weird. You want to strike the right balance of paying respect and laying claim on things. That’s especially tricky because we all have different ways we like to remember people and different takes on the importance of mementos.
When we drove home, our trunk was filled with an amazingly large amount of cat art (all credit, if that’s the right word, to Wonder Boy), some artwork created by Wonder Boy’s grandparents, some odds and ends for around the house, some costume jewelry and the sweetest little blue suitcase.
Modern suitcases are made to be durable, lightweight and super functional. Vintage suitcases, arguable more durable, were made to be functional and, IMHO, super cute.
So while Wonder Boy’s family was going through antiques, memories and old household items, I was fixated on a tiny suitcase.
Do I need it? Absolutely not! Don’t take it. But it’s so cute! No, no, no. You don’t need it. But it’s so cute!
Cute won out. I don’t know how or why Wonder Boy’s grandmother used this particular suitcase. Make-up and other toiletries? Unmentionables? With some very stealthy packing, maybe as an overnight bag? My romanticized, uninformed version is that she used it to carry hew jewelry while going on a train ride. Massive amounts of jewelry.
However she used it, this cute (haven’t I mentioned yet just how cute it is?) suitcase helped her along in journeys and I’m excited for when I get to bring it on one of my own.
Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who has raised their voice for their rights. Let us pick up our books and our pens; they are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.
– Malala Yousafzai
He Named Me Malala is a new film about Malala Yousafzai, created in partnership between the National Geographic Channel and 21st Century Fox. The first global broadcast of He Named Me Malala will be on Monday, February 29th at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST. In an effort to raise awareness for girls’ education, the National Geographic Channel and 21st Century Fox will donate $1 to the Malala Fund, up to $50,000, for every person who changes their Facebook avatar using a custom-designed animation or who updates their Twitter avatar and tweets using the hashtag #withMalala. This is an easy way for people to take action! And action needs to be taken.
The State of Women and Education
- “The World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development drew attention to the fact that there are still 31 million girls out of school, nearly 4 million “missing” women annually (meaning the number of women in low- and middle-income countries who die relative to their counterparts in high-income countries) and, average wage gaps of 20 percent, along with gaps in labor force participation. The systematic exclusion of girls and women from school and the labor force translates into a less educated workforce, inefficient allocation of labor, lost productivity, and consequently diminished progress in economic development.” – The World Bank
- “Education of women in developing countries directly contributes to the growth of national income by improving the productive capacities of the labor force. A recent study of 19 developing countries found that national long-term economic growth increases by 3.7 percent for every year adult population of average level schooling rises.” – eGirl Power
- “Girls are almost 3 times more likely to not go to school than boys. Every year of schooling increases a girl’s earning power up to 25%. Girls are 6 times less likely to become child brides when they stay in school.” – Save the Children
The story of Malala, and how she has spoken up for equal access to education for everyone, is a powerful reminder that education is a privilege to which not everyone has access. He Named Me Malala is not quite perfect – too much focus on the “He” of the title, in my opinion – but the message is spot on. Education is power and until we make sure everyone has access to education, we are denying people power.
Watch the Trailer for He Named Me Malala
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Review Wire Media for 20th Century Fox. I received information to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.