The things I learn ...
Rambling about the art of making little magical moments.
Lesson 9: Everyone has a Story.
For me, one of the most important things about life is my ability to give back to the people that occupy this earth with me. I don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to donate or even hundreds of hours to donate but I still try to do what I can to brighten the existence of some that need a hand up. I’ve been there and I’ve received help from kind friends and even kind strangers. I’m not sure where my family and I would be today if we hadn’t had some help, encouragement and even a few handouts along the way. I think that a big part of being happy in life is the knowledge that you are helping others. It’s how we’re made. We are social creatures and there is a great peace that comes from helping out our neighbors. I think that if we dig deeply enough we can all find someone to help. For me, I have always felt a certain kinship toward the homeless. Maybe it’s because I myself have almost been in that same situation. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through enough hardship to know how easily the easy life can slip away. Or maybe it’s because of Mr. Cooper. Mr. Cooper is a man I never met, and yet one who has inspired me for decades. Even though I have never seen his face, I picture him in my dreams. I wish I knew where he was and that I could tell him how much he had affected my life. I first “met” Mr. Cooper back in the early 1990s. At the time I was living in Fort Worth, not far from a large train yard. When I needed to get away from my work and clear my head, I would ride my bike through my neighborhood toward downtown, around the train yard and back. I was always a little fascinated with the graffiti that certain communities would paint on train cars. There are some great stories behind that as a form of communication so I like to photograph some of the cars just to study the art. On one particularly hot summers day, I was riding around the unhooked boxcars when I noticed something on the ground. As I drew nearer to it, I realized that there were a couple of items. One of these items was a spiral bound journal and the other was a dusty, well-worn King James Version copy of the Bible. Everything was tattered and worn but you could tell that it had been well loved and well used. I picked up the items, dusted them off and thumbed through them, unsure of what I was holding in my hands.
In my hands I was holding a scattered mess of a man’s journals. His “Good News Bible, very well used by the way. A bunch of torn pages from a beat up old, again, very well loved sketchbook. Or books. Who knows. Pages littered the train yard. I found a voter’s I.D. card from Rockport, Illinois. I found an E.Z. Tax form with an address that turned out to be local homeless shelter. I looked at one point, but nothing. One social worker did remember him, gave a kind and heartfelt description of him. She new he was taking classes at the library to learn to read and write. That’s where most of this stuff came from we figured. He disappeared one day. Just never came back. That happens all the time for her. It’s part of the job.
So, thats the beginning of the story for Mr. Cooper. His is the story of one simple idea and a homeless man who helps others by bringing kindness into the world. As his confidence grows, so does his idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. Anyone, at any age, who's ever nice for someone, will walk away with the feeling of self growth. It's a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what we can all do with a little kindness. There’s more to his story, I’ve got catalogues of his materials. I ‘m thinking that will be a completely different book, providing support for such a project should develop. In the meantime, it’s filed and saved and back-up for another time. I do have a couple of photos of the original works from a small show a did about Mr. Cooper back in the day. You may have to zoom in on poor quality images to get the words of his works. I suspect the originals are all lost, probably thrown away by the original owners because they look like a homeless guy did them. I’m going to believe a few of them survived and they remind people who see them that something bigger than us all is more important than whatever the current situation may be.
When you really think about it, the power of a story is remarkable. Everyone has a story and they seem to all be remarkable in one way or another. This is my favorite lesson of all. Please and Thank You, have a wonderful blue moon weekend.
Here are the first two slides to help introduce mr. cooper to the internet community. I suggest zooming in on these so that you can read, or attempt to read his “First Essay" and his “prayer Hand” .
The writings from the “Prayer Hand”
"This - is - a - praying - hand - Jeese - spoke - to - all - the - men - in the - world - no - matter - what - races - color- in - our - crew - he- said - i - am - the - way - the - truth - and - i - the - life- no - B - all - come - to - the - father - but - by - me - a - men - thease - are - the - words - of - Jeses - jest - read - nt - from - the - Bible. “
The writings from the “First Essay”
April 19 - 92
"William - Earl - Cooper - A speech - on - December - 4 - 19 - 92 - I - came - down - town - to - fourths - works - public - library - and - started - taking - lessons - learning - how - to - wright - i new - how in - three - day - cent - then - I - wrote - Christmas - speach - New - Years - Speech - Lincon - Birthday - speach - Valentine Speach - Speach - Martin - Luther - King - speach - The - next - speach - I - write - will - be - spring - time - speach - to - me - spring - time - mean - windy - and - rainy - someday - sun - shine - and - hot - the - next thing - is - the - Lord - is - sending - plenty - of - whether - down - here - on - earth - to - make - the - grass - grow - so - people - poor - can - get - a - job - cutting - grass - making - money - amen - the - next - thing - is - good - friday - that - the - day - the - lord - die - and - rose - Sunday - witch - is - Easter - God - Bless - all - of - us - Amen - The Ball - Park - Jobs - started - Friday - that - will - put - the - homeless - men - back - to - work - 1993 - it - will - stop - the - street - walking - amen. "
Please and thank you.
From Ty Walls:
After four decades drawing smiles I often encounter remarkable people. I've learned to create little special moments for people from all around the world with my simple smile-drawing skills. But sometimes, life creates little magical moments for me. This blog is my attempt to share them with you.