I’m not a total media dropout. I know there’s an endless supply of bad news—government shutdowns, rogue terrorists, climate change and economic angst, top to bottom. I confess that there are mornings when I go straight to my preset college radio stations with their alternate music offerings, so as not to have to listen to the litany of breaking news stories—and honestly, until NPR sneaks in a human interest piece about fifty minutes into that first hour of morning programming, the news can be awfully grim these days.
I’m also well aware that my little hill of beans amounts to next to nothing, calamity-wise. There’s a world of hurt out there. I’m doing just fine, thanks.
Which makes what I am about to celebrate that much more….flimsy, maybe? How, in the face of such worldwide angst, can I paint such a sunshiny picture of the week past? I don’t know. I probably need to find some outlets for paying better attention, doing the world more favors. Add that to my To-Do list, along with Be Less Snarky.
But even as I contemplate how I might make more of a difference in this crazy world, I feel an obligation celebrate the joys in my life, as they plant themselves along my path. It would be wrong, to miss the gifts along the way, or to dismiss them as insignificant in the face of greater concerns. That’s my current plan, anyhow: be on the lookout for joy, and celebrate it, wherever it shows up.
So, mindful of how lucky I really am, and how many good things there are in this world, here’s a report of a lovely week in the life:
First off, file this under, I Love Where I Live. Which is just a few blocks from the place where Good Will Hunting told the jerkoff grad student that he was wasting a quarter of a million bucks on an education he could have gotten for $1.50 in late fees from the public library, or words to that effect. Truth is, if you pay close attention and are in the right spot at the right time, you can get a front row seat to greatness in my hometown, and a pretty good education for free.
Seeing a line of folks at the central campus box office, I had a sense that there might be something interesting up for grabs. Turned out there were two such things: free tickets to a pair of events that would be taking place later in the week at Sanders Theater, just a five minute walk from my front door.
The first ticket admitted me to a ceremony where Malala Yousafzai would be honored for her extraordinary work as an advocate for gender equality in education. You may remember her as the little girl from Pakistan who took a bullet to the head from the Taliban, for the sin of being a girl and wanting to going to school. She is, I am delighted to say, most remarkably recovered from that attack. And she is a force of humanitarian good in this turbulent world. I felt humbled, to be in her presence. If only the world leaders would listen to her message: “Instead of soldiers, send teachers. Instead of weapons, send books, paper, pencils. They have guns, they think that makes them powerful. I am filling my brain with knowledge, that is a greater power.” Amen to that.
A few days later, a similar opportunity: my free pass got me to another awards ceremony, this time for the W.E.B. DuBois honorees. Oh, just a few luminaries: Tony Kushner, David Stern, Steven Spielberg. Two who were honored in absentia, due to the actions of the “teahadists” in DC (John Lewis, Valerie Jarret, and I have to thank my friend JR for that delightfully snarky term. Oops, meant not to go there…) And finally, a true hero of mine: Sonya Sotomayor.
Unfortunately, this event had too many people talking for too long, and not enough time for the honorees to give us what we all really wanted, which was more of them. But even within the limits of her brief thank you, Justice Sotomayor’s message started and ended with the importance of giving back. She would not be here, she told us, without standing on the shoulders of those who came before her. Having just read her memoir, My Beloved World, I was both charmed to hear her actual voice, and frustrated to not hear more of her. But the afternoon was wearing on into evening, and I suspect she and all the other honorees all had places to get to and good work to keep hammering away at. Such are the lives of true heroes.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the river…
And superstitious thankfulness, that they didn’t put this photo on the cover.
Oh, my beloved Red Sox. Worst team in the AL East last year, division champions today. Scoring runs by bunches. Pitching tough. Pulling each other’s beards in solidarity, or something. Finding ways to lift each other up, and in doing so, lifting up a whole city, an entire region. Red Sox Nation is in a jubilant place today. I got to be in Fenway Park, that happiest of places, on Saturday. It began with a blessedly early start time, with parting clouds and the sun’s glorious farewell, light streaming in the way only October light can. From there the evening unfolded: Big Papi swatting homers. Artful double plays, ending innings with exclamation points. Relief pitcher Uehara stiking out the first two batters in the top of the ninth on six pitches. Watching him is like watching the world’s best gymnasts, the ones you don’t worry about falling off the beam because they’re so good, so good, so good! Delightful friends and fellow Sox lovers to enjoy the game with. Final out by the entirely civilized hour of 9PM. Happy revelers on Yawkey Way. A good time was had by all.
I even brought the perfect pre-game reading material! For those of you who need your reading glasses, Dani Shapiro’s new book, Still Writing, begins with this opening line : “I’ve heard it told that everything you need to know about life can be learned from watching baseball.” Ain’t it the truth?
Yeah, there are weeks when I am the luckiest person I know. This was one of them.