My Dear Friends and Readers,
There was such a sense of desperation last night in Washington D.C.’s Union Station. I saw it in the haggard faces of the D.C. food service workers who work in Union Station, but who live in Baltimore, like I do.
They come to D.C. because there is no fast food service job that pays 15 dollars an hour in Baltimore. Our Mayor Catherine Pugh would not sign the bill that would make the city’s minimum wage $15 over a period of years. I understand our Mayor ‘s position. She inherited a post “Freddie Gray” Baltimore with our Consent Decree and our failing school system with a 150 million dollar deficit.
I travel from Baltimore to D.C. because there are no six-figure legal jobs for me in Baltimore. While I am in no way equating my position with that of the service workers, last night I had the privilege to attend “Ballet Across America” at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and therefore caught a glimpse of people who I don’t usually pay attention to during my daily commute to D.C.
“Ballet Across America” curated by prima ballerina, Misty Copeland, and the audience attending it reflected what is best about America -our diversity and ingenuity. Last night’s performance epitomized inclusiveness and creativity. I am hopeful we will continue to have such diverse offerings at the Kennedy Center. I am hopeful because Michelle Obama sits on Kennedy Center’s Board of Trustees as does the current First Lady, Melania Trump. I believe these two trustees will keep a melange of creativity alive at the Kennedy Center.
In this past week of downtime, the Ballet was the highlight of a week spent reading novels and writing fiction. It was a time off from work because there was no “over flow” legal work to perform at the D.C. law firm where I am a contract worker. Rather than be upset about this unexpected loss of income, I chose to indulge my self in a low-cost , low-restful reading vacation.
As a writer when not writing we should be reading. I read Toni Morrison’s “A Mercy”; Tea Obreht’s “The Tiger’s Wife” and Isabelle Allende’s the “Japanese Lover”. I chose these three diverse female authors to saturate myself in great writing from around the world. Obreht is from Belgrade, Yugoslavia and is under 40 years of age and lived through the bitter inter-ethnic Yugoslav wars of the 1990’s. Morrision is an African American woman in her 80’s who has won a Pulitzer and Nobel Peace Prize for fiction. Allende is from Chile and is the niece of former Chilean dictator, Salvador Allende.
While the books and the ballet have been transformational, what has truly altered my perspective and presence in the world has been Landmark Education’s Seminar called Happiness. The 4 sessions which I have listened to has ingrained in me the truth that life happens; how we choose to perceive and interpret life is up to us.
Most of us intellectually comprehend this premise, but few of us are called to practice interpreting life in the moment; instead we react based on our past experiences. This is normal and appropriate behavior for many things like walking or driving a car. However, these automatic behaviors can lead us to being unthinking emotional reactive robots.
The Happiness Seminar is breaking up and forcing me to observe and analyze my past based beliefs and subsequent behaviors.
As a result of this self introspection I have access to new life constructs, since realizing that many of my beliefs about life and happiness had been blindly inherited and accepted and believed. I now believe that I am the source of all of my emotions based on how I interpret the events in my life. So, instead of being depressed by my lack of work, I made my “lay-off” a delightful respite from the practice of law.
Life is a series of rapidly changing events that we interpret and take actions upon based on our interpretations of these events. I have now come to believe, if you are going to create a story about your life experiences, create one that makes you happy.