Last Wednesday, I had the good fortune to get to go see Jane Goodall speak at FAU. She started a bit late because they had more people in attendance than they had projected. Yay, Jane!
Lots of times when I'm really looking forward to things, I worry that I won't enjoy them as much as I was hoping. Like when I saw the belugas at the Shedd aquarium: I had just cried myself through this sad, they're-doomed book, and when I saw them in person, I was kinda like, "Oh, they're cute." But it was no soul-moving experience.
So while I was sitting waiting for Dr. Jane to appear, looking at the empty podium (with that banana-eating monkey at its side), I was wondering if I would be disappointed. Or, not disappointed, but... not moved, as I was expecting I would be. After all, it was JANE FREAKING GOODALL.
No. No, no, no, no. Not disappointed.
As I've expressed numerous times on this thing, I find people's actions deplorable. I wonder how on earth people can be as awful as they are. For a recent example, how about this pro golfer who premeditatedly (he spent 10 minutes shooting balls at it) killed a red-shouldered hawk because its call was messing up the filming of a TV show? Please please please let his sponsors drop him.
This lady... she's the opposite. Not only has she accomplished remarkable things... Honestly, read up on her story and you will be so impressed. But she's just sweet as hell, and maintained this hopeful optimism in the shadow of some really horrible things*. It's people like her that make me want to be a better person (WWJGD?), and people like her that give me hope. Hokey? Maybe. But it's true. I was tearing up while she was speaking, putting my camera down so I could heavy sigh and just listen.
Oh, and don't you know that I love to read her stuff because it makes me feel like a non-oddball. In one of her books, Jane talks about how she collected seashells from the beach one day. It turned out they were still alive, filled with little sea snails. When Jane's mom told her they'd die if they didn't get back to the sea, she became hysterical and everyone helped so they could get them back to the water. I love stories like this, because then thinking back to when I would tear off tiny bits of sandwich meat for the spiders living in my closet because I was worried they weren't finding enough insects in there makes me think I have something in common with someone great. Instead of, you know, what this affinity for animals usually gets me, which is being accused of being a crazy cat lady or something.
So anyway, after the lecture, I waited in line for 45 minutes or so to get one of my books signed, but then I had to leave to get to the airport to leave the car for Chris's parents. I was thinking the whole time about the fact that I maybe will NEVER get to meet her. So after I picked Chris up, I said, "Let's go back to Boca." And so we did. Chris was really happy. Hehe.
I got a picture and one of my books signed, and I got to talk to her. My voice was shaking the whole time. I was so ready to cry; I probably sounded so silly. I basically said something really cheesy (but true), that I was happy that people like her existed, and thanked her for being her. At some point, she stopped signing the book she was working on and looked at me, probably wondering what was wrong. When I thanked her for being her, she answered in this great accent: "Thank my mothah." I giggled the whole way out the door: "Thank my mothah."
If you don't know why she responded this way, if you're gonna have some babies ever, read her story. It coincides with this picture, with the egg-laying story. As a little girl, she disappeared for hours one day because she had staked out a chicken coop to figure out where the heck eggs come from. Finally, she got to see a chicken lay and egg. She ran back to the house. Everyone was relieved to see her since they had been so worried she was gone for something like four hours, but her mother saw the excited look on Jane's face. So instead of starting to punish her for being gone, she sat down and listened to the this wonderful discovery about where eggs come from. How great is that? Her mother nurtured her and this curiosity at every step, rather than trying to hold her back. Jane tied this into what she's seen with chimpanzee mothers, how the chimps with the nurturing, protective but not overbearing mothers were the chimps that were later successful in their society, whereas the opposite was true of the chimps with the over-punitive mothers.
So anyway, yay Jane. :) Read up on her if you don't know about her already. Her Jane Goodall Institute (which I just joined; it's $35) is doing some great things, which she talked about at the lecture, including their own shade-grown coffee and micro-lending programs (she gave a shout-out to my hero, Muhammad Yunus). Go see if she's coming around. She's inspiring. :) She'll get you thinking... WWJGD?
*Although most of her lecture was very optimistic... Its title was Reason for Hope, after one of her books, after all... she did give a nod to reality. Including the fact that the population of chimps in the wild has gone down from about 1 million when she began to study them about 30 years ago to about 200,000 now. !!! And one horrible image she shared with us, when asking how people can feel unmoved to help a creature in need... A baby chimpanzee for sale in a market in Africa, its mother butchered for meat for sale beside it. Can you imagine?