For a pre-codger, humbling experiences can be a bit off-putting. I do not presume to know everything, but arrogance I have been accused of more than once in my life. When something hits me like a ton of bricks, it really feels like 10 tons, because I never expected the first. Stephen Hopson was those bricks. At 47, Stephen is the first deaf instrument rated (can fly in 0 visibility) pilot in the world. Deaf from birth, Stephen gave up a top-spot at Merrill Lynch in NYC, as a stockbroker, to travel the world as a motivational speaker. Last night, he took us into his Akron, OH home.
I don't know what to say. The man reads lips. You never think about what you're saying to someone until you are keeping direct eye contact constantly. All of the sudden, words become more carefully selected. The guy is a better listener than most. Irony? How about not hearing tone? Wouldn't we all do better if only to take at face value the words that people say? Stephen was more than happy to answer my prying linguistics questions. The group sat around talking for 4 hours.
I'm a sensitive guy. I cry three times during the Shawshank Redemption: when 'institutionalized' Brooks holds the other inmate at knife point, when Brooks hangs himself, and the final cathartic moment, between Andy and Red, on the white-sands beach. But as moved as I can be by good media, Broadway included, I harden myself against the New York Times and Argentina's Clarîn, both of which I peruse daily. Hundreds die here and there, and man am I hungry for some Taco Bell. I often lack perspective and sentimentality in the real world.
Stephen is a reminder to get over myself. I think I am so damned smart, when I really know almost nothing, especially of adversity. As not poetic as this paragraph is, it is not easy for me to write. I get wrapped up in this defensive layer of arrogance wit that often inhibits my ability to just shut up, listen, and maybe even learn something. I going to learn something today, and maybe you could too. Just listen, don't struggle to be right, or even to be heard, and just listen. You might find something you didn't already know.
xoxo, and on to Buffalo.