jane goodall is quite possibly the coolest, most amazing, most beautiful woman on the planet. if you don't know who she is, quick! google her and check her out- i'll wait. (humming theme to jeopardy). okay- now you know what i'm talking about.
i loved jane goodall as a kid. i can't tell you how many times i watched the documentary of her time spent in the jungle, studying and analyzing the behavior of chimpanzees. she was a beautiful, largely uneducated young woman (26 at the time) who moved to Gombe, africa on a grant from louis leaky to study chimps. she traveled by boat- which i can't even imagine, considering the flights are brutal enough- and her mom went with her for the first part of her adventure. there was enough money in the beginning to cover 6 months of study. every morning she hiked up into the jungle alone and looked for wild chimps. let me repeat this...every day, she hiked ALONE into the jungles of AFRICA to look for WILD chimps...did i mention ALONE?! her mom waited back at camp. it took her a couple of months before she even found the chimps, much less started interacting with them. then comes the next amazing part- interacting with them. in her accounts, and from what i can tell from the films, she had virtually no fear. she said that she believed she was where she was supposed to be, doing what she was supposed to be doing, and that she would be okay because of that. wow. talk about faith! her only communication with the outside world was a boat captain that brought supplies once a week (that spoke very little english), and handwritten letters that took 3 weeks to get to and from her family and her boss. she journaled by hand. she wrote down every observation- and she was the first person ever to witness an animal make and use a tool. prior to that time, it was thought that tool making and tool use was distinctly human and was what set us apart from the rest of the animals. did i mention wow? she changed our entire view of animals and also perhaps what it is to be human. certainly it brought animals and humans closer together, helping us to understand the depth of their intelligence, and how we are in many ways more similar than different.
skip forward about 50 years. if you notice, my first line says that jane goodall IS quite possibly the most beautiful and amazing woman on the planet- not was. as enthralled as i was with her when i was a child, i am absolutely in love with her today. last night i had the pleasure of seeing a new film out honoring her and her life. it is called "jane's journey" and chronicles her work, her life, and the activism that she took on as a result of her time spent with the chimps. just as she felt that she was where she was meant to be, and doing what she was meant to be doing when she was in africa, there came a time when she became certain that her role had changed. she realized that she needed to take what she knew- what they had taught her- and touch others with it. she had to become an activist and help protect them. that is what we do with those we love...we protect them. she started giving talks, and starting foundations and programs that promote environmentalism and protecting our planet. she founded "roots and shoots" which is a volunteer youth program in over 100 countries. she does seminars and book signings and conferences. she speaks at sporting events and concerts, and anywhere people will listen. she travels back to africa and into our native american reservations, and all sorts of places in between, to help them tackle those issues which are killing our planet and our people. every second that she is not telling her story or inspiring others is, to her, a missed opportunity to do what she knows she was created to do. in the movie i watched last night, someone said that she is like the candle that lights another candle, and then those two light two more, and those four light four more... spreading that light exponetially across the universe...but that SHE lights those candles thousands at a time. she is on the road traveling and spreading her message 360 days a year, every year. she has 5 days "home" each year, and i am guessing feels a little guilty about taking that time off, and wondering whom she could have touched or inspired had she just had the gumption to keep going all 365.
did i mention she's 77?
jane goodall makes me look like an amateur. you go girl!