Labels surround human beings, swirling in the atmosphere around each person’s thought process, incorrectly identifying many. Perfect, Idiot, Jock, Nerd, Bully, Victim, the list continues on. However, labels do not present the entire truth; only a miniscule fraction.
“I despise labels,” explains Mark Ludy, a vivacious author and illustrator of children’s allegories who recently presented at the CCIRA. Having contributed to thirteen books, his restless mind, while cherished now, was almost unaccepted by the academic community when a child. This was a result of misbehavior and reckless actions, for the young boy detested school and performed terribly. Teachers felt obligated to call his parents often due to his unruliness, and academics were a subject where he did not prosper.
Until the approximate age of eighteen, he was taught to believe that intelligence was not a forte of his. However, after graduating from high school, a thought slivered into his mind. “I realized I wasn’t dumb,” says Ludy. “I just thought differently than others”. The realization came that people who don’t fit the mold that society pressures of a “perfect student”, can completely contribute to society. In addition, adults, especially teachers, need to acknowledge and encourage the giftings of every child. And as someone who seemed to have an inability to pause his doodling, the passion and gift of Ludy’s art began to be utilized.
As life progressed on, it wasn’t until much later that Ludy decided to illustrate stories. One of his most prided completions is a story entitled The Flower Man, which possesses a peculiar quality; not a single word is written, only illustrations. In response to a question about how this possibly assisted reading skills, Ludy profoundly stated, “If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then a thousand words are worth a picture.” This story, though consisting only of images, produces thousands of words, just as a novel would produce hundreds of pictures, for everyone originates their own story based on what is evoked by what lies before them. And just as a picture is infinitely more than geometric symbols, a human being is infinitely more than a single role of teacher, student, or artist. According to Ludy, “Every character has a different story to tell, and no one can tell your story quite like you can”.
Despite challenging pressures and beliefs, humans are anything but singular entities, rather complex and intriguing beings that consist of numerous layers beneath their surface. These layers should be cherished, hydrated to prosper and thrive in order to contribute to the universe and society surrounding. As Mark Ludy asserts, “You are so much more than what people see.”