if , then .

Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of
who
do the things that no one can imagine.
~The Imitation Game

tonight i had a lucky thing happen. though i’m not sure it was really luck at all. the way that things led to one another strike me as more probability than luck, and i think the subject of this post might agree.

after attending a book talk last week by Marc Solomon regarding his new publication “Winning Marriage”, our hosts The Welcoming Committee gave all of those who attended tickets to see the preview of the upcoming feature “The Imitation Game“. now, i hadn’t heard much about the movie prior, other than it would star Benedict Cumberbatch, the charmingly cantankerous lead in the fantastic series “Sherlock“. once i found the description on imdb, however, i knew this movie was for me.

when in college, i was required to fill a math credit for my liberal arts degree. to this day, i am thankful for my liberal arts gen-ed reqs for giving me the chance to expose my mind to things i would have never been willing to test out on my own. with “required risk”, i explored openly and ended up choosing three minors based on elective classes, including my math class. now, this was math that made sense to me because it was based on words. yes, words. the class was based out of the Philosophy department and was titled “Beginning Logic” (if you attend UNH, it is still available under PHIL412). my instructor, Rudolph Valentine Dusek, was a wildly entertaining introduction to why i would grow to love this course – he’d often go off on tangents about something seemingly unrelated to the course topic only to link back in at the last second with a reason why logic was relevant. “if this, then that” (if x, then y; if a, then b; https://ifttt.com/, etc.. it made perfect sense! i was hooked.

so how does this relate to the movie? Alan Turing, the subject of “The Imagination Game”, was familiar with logic as a budding mathematician in the 1930s. we studied Turing in many of my Philosophy courses, including my introduction to him during Logic. as Turing developed in his thinking and studies, he ultimately created “The Turing Machine”, which was the start of computing, including one of my personal favorites, the vending machine.  and that’s not just because there are tasty treats, interesting items, and refreshing or warming beverages inside; NO! it is because you put in specific coins and bills and the machine is able to know what to give you based on particular selections. F A S C I N A T I N G!

a still of Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing from “The Imitation Game” – image from theimitationgamemovie.com

i’ve always loved numbers, even though math doesn’t come easily to me. i can learn any math, but it takes me longer than say, how to write a sonnet, or a new yoga pose. but the idea of numbers, and how we connect to them, is mesmerizing. i have a habit of adding numbers, typically seeking to find my favorite number: 9.

when i found out i would have tickets to the movie, i was ecstatic. the only issue was i had to work until 7, and we were asked to arrive at that time for a 7:30 showing. i was worried i wouldn’t make it (i emailed Ashley at TWC, of course, because sometimes my lateness, even when i can’t control it, makes people anxious!), so i was pleasantly surprised to find myself there just before 7:20pm, with enough time to get a soda and popcorn before the movie started. when i arrived, we received numbers for entrance to the show. my number was 153. 1+5+3=9.

the imitation game ticket

now, i’ve been having a bit of a go of it lately, and the fact that i made it to this movie on time, (albeit unexpectedly alone) snack in hand, and with a ticket number equalling 9, i felt like i was in the right place. and the movie was fantastic. even though i sat in the 2nd row, the cheers and laughter of an lgbtqa crowd made me feel at home and welcome. watching the film unfold, pictures of a war my grandfathers fought in, loss, suffering, a mind stretching to express it’s understanding, the pain of a misunderstood life was palpable to me.

Alan Turing was a gay man, arrested for “indecency” in 1952. he took his own life in the summer of 1954, in between the births of my parents, at the age of 41. he was barely 30 when he cracked the German Enigma code, helping to end World War II and saving millions of lives.

we are lucky to live in a world that has been made vastly different by this one man, although he was never valued for his whole self. considering the people in my theatre tonight, some of whom have full-time jobs related to lgbtqa advocacy, and all of whom rely on computers to function daily, i know we would not be where we are today without him. i left with a grateful heart and a sense of urgency to find my own Turning machine, to know my own gift and make it come to life.

here’s to finding and knowing our own worth.
and, yes, i give the film a 9.

home (thoughts on expectations)

childhood brings forward memories of barbecues (in new england, that’s what we call a cookout), my mother putting hamburger and hotdog buns, humpty dumpty potato chips, and triscuits into wicker baskets lined with unfolded napkin squares. burgers and marinated teriyaki chicken on the grill. all of us cousins running around on a soda-induced sugar high.

one of my favorite things about my family was that, while there were always traditional gendered roles echoing in the aunts washing dishes and the uncles drinking beer and talking about tools and lawn equipment, there were just as many free and open positions that each family member took. my uncle, the family historian and memory-capturer, always filming and photographing our get-togethers with pride. my mom changing the propane tank on the grill. another uncle serving burgers while my aunt broke apart the giant ice bag from the gas station. all of the cousins asked to help clean things up. while these were small things, they expressed that work should be shared and jobs were equal. they also helped me to see the value of family. we were there for one another, functioned as a unit. celebrated successes. mourned losses. just got together to hang out. and this was what i always wanted for my future. i have realized that while my family wasn’t always perfect and we didn’t have a lot of money, they gave me room to be who i was and worked to give me a life that went beyond expectation.

but i had expectations. expectations i always felt were challenging to live up to. expectations that didn’t come from my parents or my aunts and uncles or cousins. expectations i created for myself. in many ways, i’ve resisted being closer to my family in recent years because i felt that i couldn’t live up to that. at 33, i do not own my own home or have children of my own to bring to barbecues and holiday parties. not having these things has made me feel like i have little to contribute to the unit, although they do not expect anything but my time and love. i’ve asked myself a lot about these expectations recently, and realized that i have them for myself in almost every area of my life, for no other reason than the “supposed to”s and “should”s i’ve mentioned before. it’s incredible how much power we give to living up to what we think others expect of us. imagine the accomplishments we could achieve if we removed that standard and started living for all of the things that bring us what we actually need and want in our lives. for some people that may mean following the dreams of their families. for others it may mean abandoning those dreams at all costs. but we must decide for ourselves. choose the path that brings us to the place we want to find ourselves in the world. and follow it until it ends, or we choose another. that is what will bring us truly beyond expectation. beyond the hopes and dreams of others and into the warm heart of what even we couldn’t see for ourselves. the real meaning of what it means to be home.