Unlike Hollywood often portrays, redundant routines usually abound in the lives of most people regardless of socioeconomic status, race or culture. These routines often create predictability of both community and society, as well as guarantee that the mortgage will be paid and the career maintained. We are more prone to think perhaps if the “Great Gatsby” had functioned more in the routines of life and less in throwing elaborate parties each night, he could have actually won Daisy with a more simplistic lifestyle. Yet in an attempt not to digress, the exceptional life is necessary to be experienced every once in awhile. These experiences are necessary because they keep the blood flowing and spirit alive knowing that even if your earnings place you in a middle class caste system, your experiences don’t always have to.
Moments of this caliber require a pushing beyond the mundane to ignite one’s very existence. Yet in these moments there are usually a plethora of reasons against participating. Excuses that place work over pleasure, obligation over pursuit, history over truth and knowledge or even more simply bill payment over a once in a lifetime opportunity. However, life can be most experienced when “fools choose to rush in, where angels fear to tread.” Therefore, attending that wild affair of a party Gatsby threw may be just the answer to awakening the soul and enlightening the senses.
I recently had one such experience, this past Friday, April 4, 2014. I along with my two daughters that I refer to as “My Beauties” and a dear friend of mine attended The Bauder Contemporary American Authors Lecture 2014 featuring U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey at Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan. Marygrove is where I received my Masters in Education and as a child spent many Saturdays participating in all sorts of extra-curricular activities. The College is dear to me and a recognizable community treasure. And although the night cost a pretty penny to attend, the only word my guest and I could muster to describe the evening was simply lovely. Lovely summed up perfectly the grace and elegance of it all.
As we move from one phase of the night to the next, the VIP Reception, (yes, we were considered VIP), to a dinner that included some of the most delectable Salmon and grapefruit salad, chocolate dessert artistry, beautiful table settings, and service I had not experienced in a long, long, time; we were impressed.
It was all LOVELY!
The dinner was coupled with the presentation of the Third Annual Mary Helen Washington Writing Award Contest. Contest participants responded to the poetry of Natasha Tretheway with a “critical analysis of the work or personal reflection”. The humility this produced in response to whatever writing chops I may attempt to hone was significant after listening to the incredulous titles of each high school and college student award winning pieces. Upon dinner’s completion we were led to Alumnae Hall where the introduction of Natasha Tretheway by scholar, essayist, and author Mary Helen Washington was presented.
Again LOVELY and we had not even received the guest of honor.
Natasha Tretheway was profound, or in African Americanese “tough”, “bad”, “everything”. Her beauty and grace only added visual symmetry to the depth of her intellectual superiority. She invited us to journey to the realms of prose that few experience as she intrigued us with her poetry readings that spoke to the contrition of “difficult knowledge”, death, race and culture.
She was entrancingly profound and lovely!
Her credentials were AMAZING! The lady has published four poetry collections, having received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. C’mon really! A Pulitzer prize winner in the same room as I, the one simply trying to get a children’s picture book published. She has also received numerous fellowships and the United States Poet Laureate appointment twice. The evening was then wrapped up with a reception of wonderful cookies, refreshing lemonade and a book signing that allowed for the purchase of materials available from both authors.
The night was LOVELY, LOVELY, LOVELY!
And even with all that said; who knew Marygrove had produced this each year with the same level of excellence for the past 27 years. Because of this, I have decided to defeat the excuses and participate from now on. My fourteen year old beauty even told my twenty year old that she loved it and thought it was wonderful. Now of course she chose not to tell mother because that would say I’ve done something cool for once and giving that kind of props is not allowable in the teenage realm.
Finally I would like to offer a quick note on how to fight the demon of excuses against participating in these kinds of events and experiences. Create an excuse buster immediately once the decision has been made to partake. My excuse buster was two-fold. First, I immediately told my daughters of the evening and their excitement in attending kept me from letting them down. Secondly, I extended the invitation to a dear friend as an honorary night on behalf of her becoming a CEO. Believe me, a woman becoming CEO is about 33% rare and an African American woman becoming CEO is unbelievably 4% rare. Due to this rarity, it garners celebration if ever given the opportunity. My friend’s accomplishment mirrored that of the guest of honor and I felt privileged to be in the room with such accomplished women. A gift that honors always defeats excuses of routine.
Many Blessings to Marygrove for a Lovely, Lovely Experience!