My Alma Mater, Auburn, never gets the credit it’s due. It’s been the stepchild of Alabama higher education since before its inception. It’s been the scrappy street fighter to Tuscaloosa’s sophisticated ring boxer. Its National Championships have been repeatedly denied and disputed. Auburn’s academic credentials have never been brought to the forefront. The University’s impact on the State: underestimated and overlooked. Professors taught there because they were compassionate, had hidden talent and thought they could do some good there on the Plains. And perhaps, because they might not make tenure elsewhere.
They tell us we’ve never amounted to much. And if we did, it was a fluke, an anomaly. They tell us we cheat, that we’re less than. They question our every move, shine the brightest of lights on us. They call us a cow college — as if cows are inferior. As part of the Auburn family, you are certainly more well aware of your faults than any outside critic will ever be. You can’t help but be; you’re told of your inferiority at every turn.
The Auburn Creed teaches us to be humble, above all else. To value what matters in life. To work hard. To elevate honesty and the human touch. To appreciate clean sports. To count on what we alone can earn. And we do. And we go on, ALL IN, as family, rebounding after every loss with optimism for the next contest. For we know what matters.
Being the eternal underdog teaches you that it’s OK to lose. It’s OK to make mistakes. And it’s OK if your team doesn’t always grab the brass ring. Sometimes second place is better. Sometimes giving it your all teaches you more than winning it all. Showing up and giving it 100% always wins. That’s the Auburn way.
And tonight, after I watched Bruce Pearl (a cheater, a liar and a damn fine basketball coach), and his team of equals fight back to come *this close* to a shot at the National Championship, I realized once again that there is great value in not winning. There are infinite lessons in losing – more so than winning. The pain of defeat. The inherent improvement that results from licking one’s wounds. The joy and utter exhaustion of giving it all. That fleeting glimpse of what’s possible.
The lessons learned through picking up the pieces, I think, serve one better than sustained victories and constant success ever can.
So, with that, I say: “War Eagle, Y’all!! It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger.” I love this University that continues to teach.
Right now, I realize that the friendships I have, the ones that I’ve nurtured and have been nurtured through for the longest time, are the ones that are getting me through the present.
Foundations are important. For upon them, great things are built.
For my Libtard friends who think the Dems need “new leadership” or “someone young” or a “fresh perspective,” what’s your rationale? Who exactly do you have in mind? What’s their track record? What’s your person’s plan?
Let’s not forget how well “new blood” worked for the GOP and their golden boy, the impotent Paul Ryan…
If you’re gonna play, play hard. Blue took the House in a huge wave. Now is not the time to cower, to tinker, to tread lightly. Back a champ, one who’ll get it done, someone with a proven record. Like her or not, she knows her caucus and *always* has the votes.
Don’t worry about the vilification coming from the Right…that’s just fear.
The Times’ profile is genius in what is says…as well as what it doesn’t.
So 32 people have gotten sick from a product and the government unilaterally says, just before the national eating holiday, DON’T USE THE PRODUCT and everyone’s freaking out….
Sometimes, in your deepest rage, you imagine terrible things, the awful things you’d say at that darkest of moments. You rehearse and refine them while you’re raking the leaves or cleaning the commode. Steeling yourself, you forge forward, sharpen your blades, prepare to pounce on the unsuspecting prey.
And the next day, nothing broached or uttered or subject skirted, you spend the day creating, laboring, testing, trying. The moment comes and goes. The anger passes by like a whisper, in the dark, miles away.
And cleaning the dishes, somehow it bubbles to the surface. It breaks from the crust, clean and delicate and wonderful. Much like the meal. It comes out of you in a hug, a moment of honesty and tenderness, acquiescence and oneness.
And it works. That airy souflée of truth. At its apex. Luscious and wonderful, light and not yet deflated.
Received and responded to with equal honesty, realization, guilty regret and promise.
And it works. Far better than you planned or plotted in your sabotage. The combination better than the single ingredient.
When does one learn? When does one listen? Where is patience? Where is understanding?
Quit imagining more.
We ask ourselves.
I learned something this week, in Provincetown. Not that that’s unusual. Quite the opposite, actually.
I learned more about the definition of Hospitality. That definition that I’ve been chasing for quite some time. What I discovered was that it does not have to include a huge or elaborate or fancy or, even, correct meal. It only has to include the idea that welcoming friends and strangers into one’s home is the most basic of human gestures.
In fact, it recognizes quite a few universal needs….nourishment, contact, interaction, relaxation, safety….love.
So thank you for the ill-received fried shrimp, shell-on. Thank you for the the grunts and groans and non-communication as you sat at your computer making lists each morning. Thank you for the reluctantly-accepted, spur-of-the-moment invitation that turned out to be a delightful evening and the impetus for new, lasting friendships. And thank you, for the hug, the recognition, the “hey John Brown!” and the embrace of the newest addition to my life.
I’ve said before that a restaurant can change one’s life.
I may might not have specified which restaurant, and I think perhaps I was thinking collectively: Prune, TopFlr, La Tavola, Osteria al Doge, Devon’s.
Tonight, my thinking was reaffirmed. I ate with Kris at the bar at LaTavola. I dined solo. Kris, my friend and former co-worker, poured my drinks. She was happy, in a good space despite recent loss. We talked about life and important things and reconnected and realized our love for each other and our friends. And this place. This service. This process. This family.
And I dined in what I consider a holy temple.
A temple of friendship, hospitality, encouragement, forgiveness, creativity, refuge and respite.
And a place that continues to inform my life.
It’s odd that two buildings cast such permanent shadows. Somewhere there’s a picture of me on the roof of one of them, looking at a tight-rope artist’s signature on the window washing rail. In this one, taken 8 or 9 years later, I’m standing a bridge watch onboard the USS MacDonough, sailing into New York Harbor for Fleet Week 1989. And today, those shadows still linger, having changed our entire way of life, from politics to art to our ability to travel unencumbered through our days.
When I read that the Provincetown Art Association and Museum was mounting an exhibition of Helen Frankenthaler’s work, my heart leapt. When I read further, and learned the show was to be comprised of works she created in P-Town, I got chills.
You see, Frankenthaler is the first artist whose work moved me to tears. It was her retrospective at the National Gallery in 1993, particularly the show’s “finale’, the oversized bronzed screens in that last hall that gave me pause and moved me emotionally. Since then, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find her work here and there, in Birmingham, for instance. And even here in Atlanta at the High Museum of Art. For 25-years, I’ve enjoyed this casual relationship with her lovely, oversized, vibrant canvasses.
I never knew she painted in Provincetown. I never knew she counted Mattisse as one of her primary influences. I never knew she swam daily. I never knew she kept notebooks detailing dinner party menus and guests. And I never knew that the odd 3-story structure across the street from my Ptown flat was the studio she shared with her husband, Robert Motherwell. I never knew.
But I knew that I had to get up to the Cape to see this show. And so I did.
And once again, I was moved to tears. Not so much by the scale of the work or the enormity of the exhibition or the other, non-related emotions coursing through my brain. No, this time because of the connections this stranger, this disciplined, beautiful, creative soul has had to what’s been important and significant in my life. I’m baffled by the similar affect aesthetics have on individuals separated by life, location and generation.
And amazed and appreciative for her work, once again.