And a Happy Friday to you! Hope you are enjoying the incredibly long days of daylight these days (I know I am) and that you’re not going to be sitting in summer traffic this weekend (I know I am; the family and I are headed to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. for a few days of family reunion/nation’s capital tourism fun. Oh, the Beltway, how I’ve missed you. Hope to have a post up on Monday like normal, but can’t guarantee it.)
We start this week’s GNF with one of my favorite traditions of NFL writer Peter King of Sports Illustrated. Each year he puts together what he thinks are some of the best college commencement speeches of the year, and this year they’re awesome as usual. Not every speech will “speak” to you personally of course, but they’re almost always full of cool insights. Here’s a quick passage from one of my favorites this year, actress Helen Mirren, given at Tulane University:
Don’t over-complicate things. “Don’t procrastinate. “Do say thank you when it is merited. “Don’t lose your sense of humor.“Do confront bullies.
“Do open your heart to love. “Don’t confuse sex with love. Love generally lasts longer than two minutes. “Don’t smoke tobacco … or chew it. “Don’t dive into water if you don’t know how deep it is.
“And one more thing—don’t procrastinate.”
So many of these are great; make sure you check out Michele Norris’ as well. (You have to scroll a bit down in the column to read the excerpts, FYI.)
**Next up today, there’s always a few wonderful stories about the Stanley Cup visiting a very worthy guest this time of year, and this one is as good as any of them. There’s a 6-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins fan named Darran Dunlop, and she’s been suffering from leukemia for the past year.
Last week, a Penguins equipment manager named Danny Kroll brought the Cup to Darran’s house, and this was her awesome reaction.:
**Finally today, I truly do think this qualifies as Good News, but some may not. Chris Jones is an immensely gifted writer, for places like Esquire and ESPN (I’ve written about some of his amazing work here from time to time.) Jones has an 11-year-old son named Charley (above), who is autistic. Last week on Twitter Jones told a beautiful story about Charley, after getting some diagnostic tests back about the boy. Read it through to the end, and realize how amazing a person’s capacity is. Charley, you are my hero, too.
Here is what Jones said (this was one long Tweetstorm when he wrote it.)
Charley’s autistic. That means he’s really good at some things, and really not good at other things. His brain is extremes. For instance, his memory is ridiculous. He often brings up things that happened when he was very, very young. He often brings up the time I was driving with him, and he saw a big truck with an Elmo doll on its grill. He wasn’t yet two.
But he has no comprehension of math, for instance. The passage of time. He would not understand that 1983 happened before 1996. He recently took some tests in school. He finished in the first percentile in math and in spelling. Serious learning disabilities. Those weren’t surprises. We know he can’t do math or spell. But the spelling has always mystified me, because Charley is a voracious reader.
I feel safe in saying few children read more. If you see Charley, he will have a book in his hands. We take his books everywhere.How can a child who reads so much, and so well (if he doesn’t know a word, tell him once and he’ll know it forever) be unable to spell?
Now with these tests we have our answer: Charley memorizes words. Not how they’re spelled, but how they look.He doesn’t sound out words and never has. He remembers the shape of them. Each word is a picture. It’s amazing.
Thousands of words, stored in his brain, stamped on it like tattoos. But asking him to spell them..That’s like asking the rest of us to draw a picture of a person we know. We know what they look like. But we can’t translate it.
The real question isn’t why Charley can’t spell. It’s how Charley can read. Well, my beautiful boy did what we should all remember to do. He took one of his strengths, and he used it against one of his weaknesses. He found a way around life’s obstacles.
Every time he picks up a book, Charley defies his reality. And he has a book in his hands all the time. He’s my hero.