Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, It's the Grateful Dead....

And the crowd goes wild, right? What was it about the Dead that caused people to go to multiple concerts and in some cases actually follow the band.  I was not a Dead Head but even the small interaction I had has left a set of memories that lead quickly into re-creations.  My favorite moments were at a concert at UNLV when the band played "Fire on the Mountain" as a lightening storm approached across the desert and at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC when I ran into a student who lived in the dorm I was directing.  He was amazed and dare I say disturbed that he would turn around and find me at a Dead concert.  His expectation was that only younger people and especially stoners would be attending.

So, here are some points:  expectations can drive an impression or even an outcome and abandoning oneself to an experience can enable a person to push past previous expectations.

I went to a "Further" concert this summer where some surviving members of the Grateful Dead played and many, many people attended.  For anyone not familiar with the Grateful Dead it looked like some older guys playing some sort of California spacey music and a lot of middle aged people bouncing around and in some cases getting high.  But, for anyone who had followed the Dead it was a trip to reconnect with all of those memories, no matter what present life looked like.  It appeared that many people came from corporate or other traditional "grown up" jobs.  I wonder if colleagues  knew they were going to become Dead Heads for the evening?  And, I wonder if it crossed anyone's mind to say "I have outgrown this or I shouldn't do this."

Segue to envisioning oneself as a college student.  I picked up a copy of The Naked Roommate:  And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into In College (Harlan Cohen).  Mr. Cohen's first tip, in a book that claims many very helpful things, is Expect the Unexpected.  "Bottom Line  When you expect the unexpected you're better prepared when the unexpected arrives."  Expectations can motivate students to achieve, but having them can also create blinders that get in the way of seeing possibilities.

Abandoning oneself to an experience can enable a person to push past previous expectations.  In Ivan the Fool (Leo Tolstoy) Ivan turned a village on its ear by changing the value of things like money.  Others could be corrupted by the promise of money but Ivan considered it only something shiny and saw no use for it.   Can you imagine how life would become very different if money suddenly became useless and something unexpected, like tea bags, became valuable?  Apply that thinking to transforming into a college student, regardless of reservations.  Ivan was true to who he was regardless of the situation, and he didn't fall into conforming to the expectations based on who he appeared to be.

So, next time you see someone get out of a car that has a funny little bear on the bumper, just take a moment to recognize that you are probably looking at someone who has thrown off their blinders and abandoned themselves to something bigger than who they appear to be.

Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been (Truckin')

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