One of my 6 year old granddaughter’s favorite board games is the time honored Candyland, specifically the Disney Princess version. She often insists on playing 2 princesses at once in order to up her odds of winning, but honestly, neither of us are ever able to keep up with her manipulating, er… I mean moving, not one but two princesses given the plethora of dialogue and drama involved. When we first started down this board game road she often got more than a little upset when drawing a card that got her “sent back” on the board. Suddenly way behind and losing hope of achieving her clear and present goal of ALWAYS winning, she’d sulk or as my father used to say about me, stick her bottom lip out so far she might step on it. Aware of this “teachable moment”, I’d encourage her to not give up, but instead realize that just as easily as she’d picked that “go back” card out of the deck, she could just as easily pick a “jump way ahead” card and be in the lead, once again positioned to win. My Mimi Motto is “Anything can happen!” It didn’t take long for my programming to stick and now when asked “What does Mimi always say?”, she’ll respond with “Anything can happen!” That sense of possibility, that base hope to hold on to was/is necessary for her as a young child just learning how Candyland and the world of board games work. After all, who can say they would truthfully want to keep playing if the odds were NEVER in their favor? Not Katniss, not Emma, surely not you or I.
A young woman named Marina Keegan refused to believe that the odds were NEVER in our favor. She illuminated the shadowed frames of life with her abundant giftedness for written expression. Killed in a car crash at 22, she had just (5 days earlier) graduated magna cum laude from Yale and was about to join the staff of The New Yorker magazine, surely becoming not the next “it girl”, but the next Pulitzer Prize winner, a young woman of such inexplicable old soul substance and multifaceted talent, the likes of which would surely soon find herself having coffee with Maya Angelou or Harper Lee (if Ms. Lee were social), the three of them awestruck beyond their wildest expectations.
What 6 degrees of separation allow Marina and my granddaughter to intersect? At their 2012 commencement, Yale’s graduating class received a special edition of the Yale Daily News in which Marina had penned an essay titled “The Opposite of Loneliness”. Although the intended audience was a group of 20 something college graduates, Marina choreographed words that ring true for young and old alike and her heartening, brilliant essay meteorically touched millions of souls around the globe. At 22 Marina Keegan told the world that, “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over… We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility, because in the end, it’s all we have.” Akin to me urging my granddaughter to persevere because anything can happen, Marina declared that anything is possible and remembering that premise is the ingress, opening whatever individual doors each of us might choose to open.
Of comparable and integral importance, whether we’re talking about a child’s board game, our vision for our personal futures or the attainment of world peace, is Marina’s declaration that we MUST NOT lose hope if we want to make something happen. Whether our objective is singular, cooperative, local, multinational, private, public, of the heart, mind or soul, we are in this together. Let’s make something wonderful happen in this world, just like Marina did.
Peace and Love
*** I hope you’ll take the time to Google Marina Keegan and learn more about not just her tragically abbreviated life but her luminescent work. I first read about her in 2012 and then… well, life happened. This past Monday I opened my email/newsletter from DailyGood.org and was reminded of her as a radiant point of light. A posthumous collection of her work, The Opposite of Loneliness:Essays and Stories was published in April 2014 and is available on Amazon.com and through booksellers worldwide.