Stacked in Our Favor

Thoughts about libraries, education, children's literature, writing, art and being connected

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation

Art by Deborah Davidson

This week seems to have been a test of the theory of “six degrees of separation” for me. If you aren’t familiar with Frigyes Karinthy’s theory, it states that people are so connected that there are only about six threads between any two people in the world. I can see how Karinthy’s background could lead him to this conclusion. He was an author, playwright, poet, journalist and translator. Not only would the type of activity he engaged in provide a life of voluminous contacts, but the types of activities he engaged in were those which consisted of making connections. If the only activity in his biography was “translator” that alone would explain his belief in the nature of connection.

Debbie Davidson read the poem I included in my last post and asked permission to create art for it. Imagine that! In fact she made two versions. I like them both so much that I included one here and the other at the head of the last post. Debbie is one of those marvelous people who can take a less than perfect situation and mill what positive there is to be had from it. I know I said this in the last post, but I’ll repeat myself. If you haven’t checked out her blog, Etegami by Dosanko Debbie and her series on “Humanizing the Quake” you are missing out on pure beauty. I feel so humbled to have such beautiful artwork inspired by my writing and to read her thoughts on my poem. Heady stuff.

I also heard from Ann Dixon, Alaskan children’s book author. Amidst the back and forth of catching up with each other, I found out about her blog, Kid Lit North: Where Ravens Roam and Writers Dream It introduces books about northern climates and sheds light on places and events I can only dream about. Years ago during an emergency landing in Anchorage and subsequent surprise overnight stay there, my eyes were opened to the beauty of Alaska. I had always wanted to return, though I prefer to make it a planned visit next time. Through Ann’s books, website and blog I catch a glimpse of the trip I would like to take.

Last Sunday, I headed into Boston to the Boston Museum of Science to see the exhibit “Race: Are We So Different?” It was a thought-provoking exhibit questioning the notion of race. Though many of the things I saw and heard were issues I had given thought to and pursued through reading, the way the exhibit was put together brought ideas together in a powerful way. It is clear that we are all more closely related than we may think at first. The reflections people offered about the richness of their heritage was inspiring, moving and sometimes humorous. The lines between us blur. There are only 12 letters between I and U. I would highly recommend this exhibit.

I also saw the movie “Australia” in the IMAX theatre. The film focused on how Australia and Antarctica were at one time joined and how one became a cold barren land while the other became a harsh desert climate. I learned plenty from the film, including the surprising information that kangaroos and koalas are descendants of the same animal. I also learned about the profusion of pelicans during years of plenty. The connection between life and the land is intricate and integral.

Still, I was disappointed not to see more of the vibrant wildlife that fellow participants of MoP (Month of Poetry) featured in their poetry or conversations. In the evening, I spent time chatting with Australian children’s book writers Kat Apel and Jo Hart about the wildlife they see where they live. I should have known…how can a continent so large and diverse be introduced in a mere 50 minutes? Granted, there is much truth to what the film asserts, but I was looking for a more inclusive view of Australia. One which included the gamut of climates, flora and fauna.

Later in the week, I had an experience that really ties it all together. The power of the internet in connecting us is something we take for granted, but sometimes it is borne out in ways that delight and amaze. When Debbie sent me the first illustration I asked her a bold question – did she know a friend of mine who was rumored to live in her neck of the world. Turns out she didn’t, but a friend did and so after many years I’m back in touch with a dear friend. It was a delightful and awe inspiring experience. I’ve never met Debbie. Just made her acquaintance on twitter a month or two ago. The world is a small and big place. We are connected to each other. Thank goodness. Thank goodness.

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