First, choose things, items, or phenomena from the following four lists:
- the ones that constantly amaze you,
- the ones you take for granted and never think about because they have become such a presence in our lives, or they went from tchatchka to necessity,
- the ones that every so often just inexplicably come to mind seemingly out of nowhere with no specific stimulus or association, or
- they come crashing in when you suddenly need them.
Let’s examine just two of the lists.
LIST 1: To name just a few: wheels, not from paleontological times, but rather on suitcases; EEG’s; EKG’s; Lasik; LASERs; tasers; GPS; sulfathiozole and sulfanilamide; and Sir Alexander Fleming noticing the mold in the Petri dish eating away at The Bad Stuff; Salk and Sabin doing their thing; the Pap test and Hofnagel valve; boots instead of plaster casts;
arthroscopic surgery; kidney transplants; The Biggies – DNA, Freud, e=mc squared; down to upside down ketchup bottles and for the caffeine freaks, the Keurig; the internet and Google; Instagram; Fit Bit; Dick Tracy watches; Blue Tooth; smart phones; Alexa; flat screen TV’s and voice-activated clickers; microwaves; smart boards in the classroom; seat belts, infant car seats, cars that beep when you cross over the white line or brake when you are too close to the car in front of you.
a. Some are coming so fast in our lives, it seems like HaMa’asim Bechol Yom-it’s happening every day, hour.
b. They are al Yamin veAl S’mol – absolutely everywhere.
c. You must remember to explain to the younger generation 78 RPM (which they think is a new heavy metal band), carbon copies, black and white TV, a thesaurus, and occasionally even “a bookstore”.
LIST 2: The Mitzvah heroes: They are al Yamin veAl S’mol – absolutely everywhere – network TV – e.g. CBS’s regular feature of everyday heroes, YouTube in 5-minute or 20-minute clips, documentaries, feature films – originally in my childhood comics DC and Marvel’s Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and, recently, all manner of compassionate, Menschlich, Tzedek-driven mutants, magazines (e.g. People of all places), newspapers usually referred to as “human interest” – but the stories are much more than human interest, that old-fashioned medium, the radio (e.g., billionaire Robert F. Smith’s commencement address at Morehouse College announcing he will pay off the entire class’s student debt), organizations devoted to recognizing, and featuring them (e.g. The Caring Institute, Giraffes), select courses in (character) education, and casual conversations with others. And some of their inventions, to name just a few:
d. For 25 cents or less, high-nutrition food in plastic packets (just put in boiling water) for human beings suffering from famine
e. Electric wheelchairs that climb stairs
f. Therapeutic horseback riding and animal-assisted therapy
My admittedly biased thoughts:
1. I frequently think about why our minds are more occupied and pre-occupied with List 1 rather than List 2.
2. I would think that especially when life seems to be sliding into a feeling of humdrumkeit, a quantity of inspiration-to-redirection-and-action might be welcome.
3. As an educator I would want to start each session with “Listen up! Man up and woman up! Grow up!”
4. Maybe shifting from List 1 to List 2 would help us better understand the response to the hackneyed line, “Get a life!” I think the Mitzvah heroes would give a better answer than Alexa.