We don't always want to be known for the most vulnerable or emotional story of our lives. New York Times best-selling author of How to Be Black, Baratunde Thurston, once asked his live audience not to tweet or record his telling of a personal story at a public venue because he's "not interested in that story blowing up and getting lots of YouTube hits. I'm not interested in being KNOWN for it...the idea of people streaming and live-tweeting and uploading this personal, intimate tale felt like a violation."
“I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.”
On a trip to Cuba a decade ago to research sustainable agriculture, I arrived too late at the guest hostel in the southern, rural part of the island to see much of the hills surrounding us with palm trees in a small valley. I got my chance early the next morning when I was awoken by not one, not two, but what sounded like hundreds of roosters crowing all around me. I dressed quickly and went outside to find that roosters roamed freely in this village, strutting as lustily as Thoreau’s chanticleer. Roosters are undoubtedly more intent on alerting other roosters to their territory than on signaling transformation, but in El Valle del Gallo, as I called this place, I witnessed the power of roosters crowing in unintentional symphony at the dawn of another day.
Grandpa Doug died a few weeks ago. He wasn’t my grandpa. He was my neighborhood’s grandpa. Always at the local elementary school being a handyman or there with his camera documenting the talent shows, the art exhibits, whatever was going on . . . even in the classes that his granddaughter wasn’t in.
We got to talking . . . and he started inviting me over for coffee. He was a coffee connoisseur, but not the kind that was snobby. He just knew a lot about it. I sheepishly asked for cream because I had heard that “real” coffee drinkers didn’t do that. He brought me cream. Happily. And we’d talk. We’d listen.
In 2013, the Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) included questions around mental health for the first time. The results were significant: one out of every four Coloradans experienced one or more days of poor mental health during the past 30 days. I’m not really surprised by these findings. Nearly everyone I know, including myself, has faced at least one bout of stress, depression, or emotional instability at some point in their life.