I know an extraordinary amount of things most people would find trivial, boring or shocking. For instance, I can discuss tertiary yaws, microscopic survivors from the Cenozoic Era that bore into the soft tissue of human feet and cause spontaneous amputation of the toes. I can give a scientific dissertation on how tomato, potato and eggplant peels, when treated with 2-4-6 dimethyloxytropinone, could make every person in a small town hallucinate and swing from street lights like monkeys in an urban jungle.
…and I know far more than I care to about the sexual appetites of some of America’s favorite rock stars.
My formal education has taken me from being able to read a book, by myself, at the age of three; play a passable version of Rachmaninoff’s piano Prelude in C Sharp Minor when I was 12; come close to flunking my senior year of high school and finish college after two aborted attempts. None of my teachers made much of an impression except my college journalism professor. He taught me to compose my thoughts at the keyboard, then to convey them in an inverted pyramid style; skills for which I am forever grateful.
My informal education is full of unorthodox and often outrageous teachers who taught me how to corner a 2,000-pound, three-liter, rear-engine car at 120 miles-per-hour… without losing control; how to tether myself to a helicopter in-flight, sit on the landing skids and take pictures without falling off and how to hang by one arm from the back of a moving train, then hoist myself successfully back onboard. Incase you’re wondering, none of my teachers are still among the living.
The variety of subject matter I’ve been exposed to has failed to fit the profile of any standard educational curriculum. It’s only been since breast cancer that I’ve learned how to be still in the moment and how to recognize and give thanks for my many blessings.
I’ve learned how to have real girlfriends I go to lunch with and to talk about feelings, as opposed to being in the company of men and talking about power-to-weight ratios and return on investments. No longer am I looking for approval from a man, and I’ve learned to live what most people call a “normal life.” I’ve learned what real love is; the giving of self; the grace of God; come to terms with the duplicity of man and have realized that ego and fear of knowing the truth can be all encompassing.
The great scientist, Louis Pasteur, said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” I hope my convoluted mass of gray matter continues to seize life’s opportunities, while surviving its fragilities. Perhaps the last frontier of earthly knowledge will be an all-encompassing acceptance and wisdom that comes as we take our last breath. If so, I hope I learn that, too.