You know you’re important when you walk into a room or step up on a podium and heads turn. You know you’re important when people go out of their way to acknowledge you and cater to you. You know you’re important when people come to you for advice and guidance. So what happens when all that stops? Does that mean you are no longer important?
Is that why people un-retire or never retire (i.e., Phelps, Letterman, Ali)? I’ve seen people who hang on to vestiges of themselves and it is not pretty. You see them at receptions where it is obvious that their time is past. People are polite to them, ask how they’ve been and then move away as if they didn’t exist. I could join Boards and committees, but I will not be a vestige. I will not waste time trying to hang on. But, what do I do with the business knowledge accumulated over the last 40 years. Be a consultant… been there, done that. Be an educator…. Been there, done that. Or… move on.
Of course, what is really important is definition of oneself apart from definition by others. Now that I think about it…. I’ve actually played many “important” parts over the years…. Mother, congressional fellow, grandmother, sister, professor, boss, wife, association executive, and other roles that I can’t even remember.
How wonderful it is to be able to define myself once again.
Expectations and preconceptions skewed my view of the Soweto Gospel Choir. I had read about their Grammy awards and as an African-American woman, I looked forward to their performance with great anticipation . When they walked out on stage, I joined with the rest of the audience to applaud their presence here in the US at George Mason University, but the first thing I noticed was the women’s hair and second was the costumes.
I know it is unfair to prejudge, but it is only human to have expectations, and I expected the African women to wear African hairstyles and/or hair wraps. So, I was taken aback that all but one of the women had African American hairstyles, which means braids and weaves. One of them even had strawberry blond hair.
Additionally, all members of the troupe word nylon or polyester costumes. Somehow that didn’t seem like native attire, which was my expectation. So, as unfair as it is, this skewed my view because I was looking for authenticity.
On the other hand…. the music and dance was outstanding. The male dancers greatly outshined the women with their high kicks up to their heads. The only other disconnect was a tap dance routine performed by the men. Again, it may be my preconceived notions about African dance, but tap dancing does not fit into my idea of African Dance. The end of their program had the audience on their feed which was appropriate because their music made you feel like dancing, and their rendition of Oh Happy Days was rousing. At the end of the day, it was time well spent, extremely enjoyable, and everyone walked away with a smile on their faces and a song in their heart.
As I power-walk down the street, I observe perfection. Perfectly manicured yards. Perfectly clean streets. Perfect weather. Perfectly behaved children. No two houses the same and many of them architectural jewels. Life moves at a slow pace and what they call traffic is laughable. The people are southern-friendly. Everyone owns a bike and uses it regularly. As Garrison Keillor would say it’s a town where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average”. Naturally, it was just proclaimed as having one of the top best school systems in the US.
Everything is so sweet and simple that it is jarring. There is so little crime that all the police have to do is give out parking tickets and chastise residents for going without bike helmets. Housing is in such high demand that rentals are gone within 2 hours of being published in the local paper. Kids roam freely throughout the community and like Cheers…. everyone knows your name. It feels fantastical. I keep waiting for someone to pull back the curtain and show some man pulling strings like the Wizard of Oz.
Waiting to wake up from this dream. In the meantime… I will enjoy life in Coronado, California.
Met a young man training to be on the US Olympic Archery Team. He let us know that he is ranked number 10 (not sure if that is national or world), but either way… it is damned impressive.
In fact, all of TEAM USA is damned impressive. As part of our “do everything now while we can” campaign, we had the opportunity to visit the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center (CVOTC).
The CVOTC is designed to train athletes in outdoor events such as soccer, track and field, biking, running, motocross, tennis, etc. The facilities are superb and we coincidentally got to see the women’s soccer “B” team practicing. The one thing that all the athletes have in common is the absolute knowledge that they will win. The young archer we met was preparing for an upcoming national competition. Apparently, archers must place in the top 3 to qualify for the Olympics. He said with confidence… “I’m ranked number 10 so I expect to make the top 3.”
As if they don’t already have enough confidence, the Center even has an obstacle course designed like American Ninja Warrior to push the athletes to do things they don’t know they can do. Since winning times are often seconds apart… its often the confidence that makes the difference.
It is amazing how one’s confidence grows when accomplishing the impossible. I had that experience when I completed a triathlon, but that’s another story.
The US does not support our athletes, but these kids work hard for the United States… consider making a donation.
One of my favorite memories was visiting the barbershop with my Dad. Mom made Dad take me with him as often as she could. Not because he didn’t want me, but because I was a girl and it wasn’t always appropriate or convenient for him to take a girl. He knew that the barbershop was one of the few places where men could express themselves using “manly” language. But when he took me, they had to adjust their vocabulary to accommodate a little girl.
I loved listening to the men talk about nothing and everything. It felt good being in their presence and I felt special because they all acknowledged me and my Dad. They didn’t have appointments back then, so men just showed up and waited their turn, and no one minded because this was time to critique all matters of sports; solve the problems of the world; and exchange neighborhood gossip. When a hot topic was under discussion, men would sit back down after their haircut just to continue the conversation.
Then I moved to San Diego which like most towns has its own unique culture. There are few neighborhood barber shops. Men make appointments so the “talk time” is limited or non-existent as they arrive on time, get their hair cut and then depart. I happened to have an appointment the day after the Charleston church shooting. As I sat waiting my turn, I came to a sudden realization that no one was talking about THE major news event.
In my old neighborhood, the barbershop would be vibrating with discussion of Charleston. The debate would get so intense that men would stay for hours jumping in and out of the discussion with the shop owner sometimes intervening as referee. Then I realized why Charleston was not discussed in the San Diego Barbershop. The shop is interracial with both white and black barbers and their white and black customers.
They say there are two issues that one should never discuss in mixed groups… religion and politics. Now we can add a third… race.