August 22, 2017
Recently, comedian Jerry Lewis passed away. In addition to his comedy, he was the national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and a regular host of their telethons. He did many great things to help people with ALS, muscular dystrophy, and related illnesses. I would like to share a quote from him that explains his dedication to the cause:
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” – Jerry Lewis
The MDA helped me as a graduate student with a grant to study fruit fly flight muscles. That was a stretch from studying human muscles, but they were creative with their research program. They helped me even more recently with their three wheelchairs and Hoyer lift. They also funded the ALS clinic I go to at JHU.
I avoided his comedy and his telethons when I was younger, but I am grateful to Jerry Lewis now.
A Good Life
August 12, 2017
One of my shortest poems goes like this:
A good life begins in love,
flows in love,
and ends in love.
Our bodies are full of disgusting fluids which work together magically to sustain life.
Note: I thought of this piece while in the hospital recovering from a tracheostomy surgery in 2015.
Editor’s Note: To make creative writing a little easier for my dad (though no less expressive), I wrote the opening phrases of this piece (As a boy, etc.) and he filled in the blanks. You could call it a thought experiment in succinctly describing the experience of a life in 100 words or less– a “micro-autobiography”. The name “Dad Libs” is a play on the popular word game Mad Libs, where players fill in empty spaces in a template story with their own words. You can find the template below- try it yourself if you’d like. Here is what we came up with.
As a (boy/girl), I was…
As a teenager, I was…
In my twenties, I was…
In my thirties, I was…
(And so on, however long your story may be.)
As a boy, I was silly and adventurous.
As a teenager, I was dissolute, thrill-seeking, and intellectual with low emotional intelligence.
In my twenties, I was diligent, motivated by science and law.
In my thirties, I was building emotional awareness, a family, and a career.
In my forties, I was expanding expertise and keeping up with a growing family.
My fifties were five years of fitness and spiritual awakening, then five years of illness and confronting mortality.
My sixties is the peaceful decade.