What a week, what an incredible week. Behind the scenes at Deer Run A LOT happened, more on that at another time. My big thrill this week was, as you know, watching Wyland paint. I blogged about my visit to the Marathon wall on Tuesday. If you asked me what happened to Wednesday, at this point I don't think I can answer that. It's a blur of different work and such. But, Thursday is another story... an entirely different story.
The other happy vegan and I had plans to go to the county college on Thursday evening for a fundraising event where Wyland was the star. Well, thanks to some behind the scenes tom-foolery regarding some tom-fools, my beloved happy vegan had to MISS this big fun, and instead attend a very important business thing. I was so disappointed for him. He really wanted to go to the Wyland event. He encouraged me to go anyway without him. I kind of figured I would go anyway, but you know sometimes it's just nice to not be alone. To that end, my friend "J" said she'd really like to go to the fundraiser with me. Yippee!!!
After some very brief outfit planning (hey, it's a Keys event at a county college, not time to break out the fairy dust and a tiara, right?) I headed down the Keys and picked up my friend. We chattered all the way to the college, and found ourselves arriving a bit early. We wandered around the lobby looking at the raffle items, stopping at the bar and having a refreshment. We looked at the Wyland things for sale which benefit his charity called the Wyland Foundation. Well, I'd like to point out here that Wyland is definitely about his own charity which is dedicated to promoting, protecting & preserving the world's oceans and such, among other things, BUT he's also about charity for many good causes. The purpose of the Thursday event was to raise funds for the marine biology scholarship program at our own Keys community college. Wow, think about that. This man who travels all over the world decided this was important enough to come to the Keys and spend several hours raising funds, 100% of which will stay here, local, in the Keys. For Keys kids. I do love this man!
At the event, there were a small handful of Youth Ambassadors for Wyland. These kids were a force to be reckoned with, and I'm not kidding. When a tow-headed 10 year old little boy wearing a shirt that has pirates and sharks on it puts out a pitch for raffle tickets, you buy raffle tickets! And you buy those raffle tickets a bunch at a time, and more than once. That very young man I believe is named Hunter. As "J" and I wandered around putting raffle tickets in baskets, we met 2 more Youth Ambassadors, Taylor and Lilly I believe (forgive me ladies if I have your names wrong, I have terrible problems with names!) These gals, also I'd guess about 10 or 11 years old, were exceptionally well spoken and had a fabulous grasp of environmental issues and the plight of our oceans. "J" and I really enjoyed chatting with these lovely young ladies, and the time passed very quickly. The main event was a screening of Wyland's movie titled "Blues Planet." It is about our oceans, and the problems plaguing them. Pollution. Oil. Trash. Lack of conservation. The film is narrated by Sylvia Earle, and Wyland wrote all the music. Blues essentially. Lot's of time spent on the BP oil spill. The cast of characters in this documentary was long, and there's some serious street cred offered up.
We enjoyed the movie, although some of it was not easy to watch. Force yourself kiddies.... ignorance is NOT bliss, rather knowledge is power.
After the film, Wyland took the stage and spoke. He's very soft spoken. He explained how much he cares about effecting positive change, but how difficult it is for him to ask for money. He took brush to paper, then began painting. He painted SIX Sumi-e brush paintings before our very eyes, and sold them. 100% of the profits went, as I said, to our own Florida Keys Community College marine biology scholarship program.
I honestly wish that when I had the benefit of my fresh youth that I had better guidance and mentoring. I had no idea what to do with my life, no idea what careers existed, and very little knowledge about what was outside my own front door. If I had half the knowledge that I do now, I never would have ended up spending almost 2 decades in an office. No way, no how. I shall not cry over spilled soy milk, at least I finally saw the light and do a lot more positive things with my time. Plus, I look at kids and think there is great urgency to educate about the possibilities... the limitless, endless possibilities. Wyland is doing that, he's there banging that drum to children all over the world.
Then Saturday broke. We knew he'd be in Key West repairing the old Waterfront Market wall. We were on a mission. Although we had plans to watch a 2pm turtle release (Fiesta has gone back to her ocean home, yay!!!) and hit Goombay (OMG, Fantasy Fest already?) we spent almost the entire day watching Wyland paint. We blew off Goombay, and missed the turtle release by 15 minutes (insert sad face here). We stayed at the wall, and listened to some live music. Joined Wyland's charity. Watched him paint. Made new friends. AND..... brought him a sandwich from the Sugar Apple and some of my very own Vegan Dreams. You know, I sadly watched him eat a corn dog at his fundraiser on Thursday. Vegan options were not there. This great man deserves something more than a stinky planet-killing, animal cruelty corn dog.... so we stuck to our plan to go to Sugar Apple the minute we got into Key West, have lunch (of course!) and got a Tempeh Reuben "to go" made by the beautiful gals in the Sugar Apple kitchen. Best sandwich in the Universe. We hope Wyland enjoyed the best sandwich in the Universe, and we also hope he's going to seek more tempeh reubens out when he travels. This caring, soulful man needs to transition to a more plant based diet, at least that is my opinion, and it applies to everyone in the Universe by the way.
In full stalker mode, we did go to Boondocks last night for another PR event. I bought one of Wyland's books for my nephew, and I wanted to ask him to sign it, which he did. When I looked into his beautiful eyes, I saw exhaustion. He has been working all week in this relentless tropical heat, wearing long pants and dark clothing. Covered in paint. Long, long days. Then pressing the flesh to raise money. It's not easy. My heart sank for him last night, he is tired tired tired. I didn't even have the heart to ask him for a photograph. It's too much. He gives and gives and gives. And, he is not taking care of himself. I know how it is out on the road. You eat poorly. You sleep poorly. And, when you're a person of his status and profile, everyone wants a piece of you for something all too often. It's work, it is not all fun and games.
He finished his walls this week, the last strokes went on the wall in Key West this morning. Although we couldn't go back down to Key West for the dedication, we will be there sometime this week. We will look at the wall, and remember many things. Mostly, we will remember that we're not alone in our mission to make this planet better for those dwelling upon it now, for those who will be here after we are gone. Including, of course all animal life.
Thank you Wyland. It's been a privilege to meet you, to watch you work. We promise you we'll be here enjoying your hard work for a long time to come, and we also promise to keep our collective mission alive with everyone that passes through. Any time you're in the mood for some (organic! vegan!) cookies, cupcakes or even a tempeh reuben, stop in. We'll totally hook you up, it's the least we can do. Until next time we ever may meet, may your own life be enriched beyond your wildest dolphin filled dreams.