Gratitude – Post 55 – Alan Turing

I am grateful for all those who came before me, who made my life easier now, and often at a great personal expense.

The Imitation Game is a recently released movie detailing the life of Alan Turing, the mathematical mastermind behind the successful initiative to break the German Enigma Code, a feat that has been credited with shortening World War II and in essence saving countless lives. The movie was a powerful one, heartbreaking and tragic, an exceptional performance by Benedict Cumberbatch who, with a name like his, couldn’t be anything but brilliant. This movie, as it was intended, got me thinking.

Alan Turing’s mathematical genius was undeniable. Mathematical puzzles were brain candy for Turing, an activity far more pleasurable to him than most childhood games. But his brilliant mind seemed to evoke the abuse and disdain from his peers, his “difference” deemed annoying and threatening rather than extraordinary and admirable. As a result, the child Turing turned inward, went underground where he hid from his classmates and became silent and unsociable to protect himself, to keep the bullies at bay. Turing was a loner, withdrawn and undoubtedly lonely. Sadly, those who stray from what we consider “normal” seldom have an easy go of it thanks to our limited ability to accept and our reluctance to understand.

In order for Turing to crack the Enigma Code fate had to step in to extend a hand of friendship; cooperation and collaboration had to happen, according to the movie. This is the part of the story that caught my attention and made me consider the real guts of the story. I think interventions of this nature, these cosmic alignments happen in most of life’s successes.

I remember hearing Martha Stewart interviewed some time ago, certainly before she saw the inside of a prison cell. She was asked to whom she would credit with the helping hand that inspired her to create the Martha Stewart Empire. Her answer? No one. Not one single soul? No words of advice or encouragement? No cheering? Apparently not. I think that statement is anything but the truth.

Help comes to us at times from some unlikely sources and I would imagine in many or most of these situations we don’t even recognize when we have been helped. Sometimes we help others by our example, when we show a harried waitress our patience, when we hold the door for someone burdened. We have no idea just how necessary our gestures of kindness and acceptance are, how far reaching in that particular moment these simple acts extend. If we were to slip a five-dollar bill into a homeless man’s hand, it might be the very gesture he needs to feel visible, to not feel alone, to find that resolve in his beaten down soul to keep trying and he may very well go on to do some amazing act of courage.

I have a novel coming out this year. This book would never have come to fruition had it not been for my writing group of several years, would not have seen print without author Lisa Moore’s generous support and encouragement, not without the many many cheerleaders I’ve had over the years and certainly not without my patient and precious friend Lor who listened to chapter after chapter after chapter without too much complaint.

So no matter our intellect or our level of success, we don’t travel this life alone.

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