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What can a pencil do for all of us? Amazing things. It can write transcendent poetry, uplifting music, or life-changing equations; it can sketch the future, give life to untold beauty, and communicate the full-force of our love and aspirations.
Anybody who has gone through a life-changing experience will tell you there is a different understanding of what is real and what is important, and when you are going through different moments, you can reflect and go, 'I have been through worse.'
I was badly bullied when I was in the seventh grade - relentlessly, mercilessly - by a group of 12-year-old girls. And it left me with a determination that no matter what, I had to throw my shoulders back, stick out my chin, and project a sense that no one and nothing could hurt me. That turned out to be a life-changing mistake.
I was always drawn to the blues. Alberta Hunter at the Cookery was a life-changing experience. I only wanted to get enriched as a performer as I got older, to have an audience which got older, too, and would come to see me when I'm 80.
I thought I was Superman until I experienced that life-changing anaphylactic shock. I was eating lunch and gobbled down a couple of bowls of gumbo. Then, 15 minutes later, I'm in my dorm room resting up. My eyes started itching and my throat was swelling up. I could barely breathe.