When I was growing up, we did not have a television in our home. Instead, my mom took my brother and me to the public library every Saturday to check out books. We were limited to 10 books each by our small library. On Wednesdays, my brother and I would switch books. We devoured them. Twenty books a week. Not sure it made us who we are, but it definitely made us grammar geeks.
Fast forward 20 years. My mom moved in with me, half of her boxes were full of books. I already had a house filled with books and I said there was nowhere to put them. She said, books are the most important things we have, we will find a place. And we did. Later, as she was in hospice, she told me to take care of her books. And I did. Because I remember her walking me through the aisles of a library for years, pulling banned books off shelves and telling me, “Read it and learn it. This is how you make a difference.” Because she made a difference to me.
On my desk, I keep a book of poetry she gave me for my birthday in 1982. It’s out of print now so I’ve put it aside for my sons. There are poems by e.e. cummings in it. I love poems by e.e. cummings. I like the way he uses words as poems themselves. You can almost taste his poems when you read them. I was inspired by him and other poets. It’s why I began writing poetry and I still do.
When I became an attorney, one of the first things I wrote was a Petition for Writ of Review to our appellate court. I already knew when we submitted it that it was unlikely that the appellate court would grant our petition. There is a one percent chance a petition for review by the appellate court will be granted and there I was, a baby lawyer, shooting the moon. It was denied. But – our client came to the office afterwards and he was clutching a copy of the petition in his hands. He said to me, “I came to thank you for doing this.” I said, “But it was not granted, I am so sorry.” He said, “That did not matter. No one has ever written anything like this for me before. I am grateful.” That was when I learned, sometimes, people just need to know they matter.
It has been almost ten years since I wrote that petition. The words of my ancestors and my mother remind me. Read. Learn. Make a difference. Because if you think about it, the odds are always against you. But no one ever won when they weren’t. Keep shooting the moon.