If I Should Have a Daughter
Sarah Kay's TED Talk
“I want to look at the world through the underside of a glass-bottom boat,
to look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist
on the pinpoint of a human mind.”
Please enjoy the video below, which has been viewed almost three million times by people in different parts of the world. You can learn more about Sarah Kay and her colleague, Phil Kaye by going to Project Voice: http://www.project-voice.net/about-us/. And, course, you can go to TED talks to learn still more.
In Response to Virginia McDaniel with Regard to
“Now that I'm Ninety-Five, I Have Time to Reflect and Learn”
I am eighty-five years old, and I am living in a small county town of Gongan, Hubei, China. A few days before the Dragon-Boat Festival of China this year, I received from my daughter, Xie Bangxiu, an email with an attached article, “Now that I’m Ninety-Five, I Have Time to Reflect and Learn”, by a respectable elderly American woman, Virginia McDaniel. On reading her article, I share what she feels and feel greatly illuminated and inspired by her ideas and spirit, so much so that I feel like expressing my appreciation and mutual encouragement to her in terms of a small poem as follows:
Having time to reflect and learn,
A jiu-wu elderly woman narrates;
Big love, encircling and pumping,
Trying to do whatever we can.
 “jiu-wu” ( “九五”, meaning “ninety-five”): It includes two layers of meanings. On the one hand, it obviously refers to the real age of Virginia McDaniel ---- aged “jiu-wu” (“ninety-five”). On the other hand, in ancient China, people honored the emperors as “jiu-wu”, meaning the most honorable. In the context of this small poem, I borrow the meaning “honorable” of “jiu-wu” to refer to Virginia McDaniel as “the most honorable old lady” in my eyes.
 “pumping”: “Pumping” is not limited to the swingsets, we can swing by ourselves or with other’s help. With time going on, we’ve got to become accustomed to doing things, big or small, this way.
(June 11, 2013)
That's The Way My Momma Taught Me
Let the mother in Sarah Kay's poem live in your imagination. She'll put a solar system on your hand and help you look through a glass-bottom boar. And if you meet a huckster who tries to sell you a bag of cynicism, you just let those bright eyes shine back at him, telling him that he really ought to meet someone like your mother, in whose image even he is made.
And if your own mother isn't quite like this; if she, too, struggles with realizing the image of sugar-like love in which all things are made, you help her. You show her this talk. She'll get it.
Who knows, the two of you might even write a poem together, or keep writing the one you're already writing, which is your life.
Whose life is not a poem? Aren't we always swinging on a swingset, pumping our way into the next moment? Isn't pumping the poem we are creating, even if we are 95?
I borrow the metaphor from my own mother -- Virginia McDaniel -- who uses it in a interview I did with her: Virginia McDaniel: Now That I Am 95? She is among my favorite teachers; she taught he how to pump. At first she pushed me, but then I learned how to pump myself. I am glad to help her pump these days. It is a joy to swing together: friend and friend, mother and son, daughter and mother, father and family.
A great hope today is that people from different nations can learn to swing together, too, helping each other pump. I have an example:
A man in mainland China read the interview with my mother and spontaneously wrote a poem for her. He's a pumper, too. He asked his daughter to send it to my mother, which I did.
His spontaneous act of writing a poem, coming from the heart, meant the world to my mother and to me. I share his poem in Chinese below, with a translation offered by his daughter. He knows how to pump. He sees through the glass-bottom boat. So many galaxies on the pinpoint of any and every mind, if only we find the legs to swing.