As with all my essays, I want my readers to understand where I am in my life. I am more alive today than I was prior to dancing with death. Even though that seems like an oxymoron, that paradox changed me, and I am not alone. There are other dancers whose lives were changed also. They include Randy Pausch, Steve Jobs, Miguel Cervantes, Kurt Vonnegut, Oliver Sachs, John Donne, Alan Seeger, John Kennedy, Steve Biko, Carl Sagan, Abraham Lincoln, David Hume, Mahatma Gandhi, Saul Alinsky, Henry David Thoreau, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Alexander the Great, and Tom Brokaw.
At one level, everyone understands doing the dance. A five-year old understands life is finite for goldfish, dogs, and people. However, doing the dance teaches the dancer at an entirely different level. Understanding that insight can only be grasped if one has done the dance. I wouldn’t want to go through a traumatic brain injury or prostate cancer again. However, I would never delete either from my life. I am more alive and driven about life, because of dancing with death.
In addition to being a successful dancer, one of my mentors, Bobby Kennedy, also gave me a purpose for life. I have used my favorite saying of Bobby’s as my signature of my emails since the time you could add a signature to your emails. “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.”
Finally, the other transformative event in my life was going to Myanmar/Burma just over four years ago. My tour guide, Moh Moh, needed to pick up some papers at her home concerning where I was going next on my tour. Her nine-year-old daughter, Ti Ti was home on winter break. I walked into their living room to be greeted by her, “Hi. My name is Ti Ti. Do you want to play some games?” We played Scrabble for nearly an hour.
I had gone to Myanmar to interview, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Lady. When I left Moh Moh’s home, I had discovered my granddaughter, who is a brilliant, pretty, and charming young lady.
On my second trip during winter break, a spent a week with Moh Moh, Ko Ko, and their three children. However, I went there pretending that I was Bo Bo Gyi with gifts for the family. Moh Moh got a copy of Bobby Kennedy by Chris Matthews. I enjoyed my copy, which I read on the long flight from Chicago to Yangon. However, I got Moh Moh a copy also, because she seems to be an incarnation of Bobby.
Moh Moh and her incarnation of Bobby
It was the best week in my life. However, I had gotten a laptop so that I could use it as a storage device for the photos and videos that I took while I was in Myanmar. While with my family, it dawned upon me that once I returned home, I would download the photos and videos and put my laptop on my bookshelf. I teach and write all the time on large screen monitors. The laptop wouldn’t benefit me, but it would benefit Ti Ti.
I told Ti Ti that I would copy all my photos and videos from my laptop to an external hard drive. Therefore, the laptop was hers. Ti Ti is extremely smart and mastered much of her laptop in a matter of a couple days. She was showing me functions on her laptop that I had never used. She signed up for Skype, got an email address, etc. I was delighted…for about a week or so.
Then it hit me. Here is a brilliant teenager in a country emerging into the 21st century world. Most of the people in Myanmar work hard to be able to function and deal with their basic needs. I happened to meet a very caring and loving family, but there are millions of others in that country like her parents and her younger sisters.
What about getting laptops for all the students in the school that Ti Ti and her sisters attend in Taunggyi, which is near Inle Lake? I went to a friend of mine where I teach, Scott told him about my dream about getting the students laptops. After several phone calls with Scott, Moh Moh got this email from me.
That email was written weeks ago. Much of the beginning phases of filling out paperwork for GoFundMe has been started. In addition, I thought that there would be around 200-students at the school in Taunggyi. Well, the actual number is 800. Therefore, getting $300 laptops for 800-students will cost nearly $250,000. Then add Microsoft software plus getting them to Myanmar, and we are talking big bucks.
I am now on the horns of a dilemma. I don’t have that type of money. That is why I need to go to a funding source like GoFundMe. However, I need suggestions from my readers about some philanthropic organizations that could more readily handle this amount of money. While I wish that someone would call me out of the blue and gave me $250,000, life isn’t often that way. I have learned during my life that life is related to the truism, no pain, no gain. My coming up with $250,000 is a pain. I’m in the process of acquiring the gain.
Teddy Roosevelt also taught me something. On April 23, 1910, he gave a very long speech, which hardly a person knows, except for one paragraph. That paragraph is called the Man in the Arena.
I realize the chances of me getting $250,000 is a long shot. I accept that. However, my dream is critically important to me. I know that my time here on Earth is limited. However, if you had walked in my shoes and met Moh Moh, Ko Ko, Ti Ti, Snow, and Fatty, you too would be a dreamer “who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Finally, if you know of places that I could get some of the $250,000, let me know. And, this is my promise you, when I return with 800-laptops, you can join me and see the school that will be connected to the world.
Visit the "We Are Family" page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Bobby Kennedy page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Don Quixote page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the On Seeing the Light page to read more about this topic.
Visit the My Hauntings page to read more about this topic.