Posts Tagged ‘ Lawrence ’

Stop to smell the roses

Coming from Lawrence, Kan., I have been around plenty of street musicians. Downtown Lawrence is a popular place for people of all ages to hang out, so musicians will often stand on street corners or in alleyways downtown to play their music. Sometimes the musicians are genuinely talented, causing passersby to linger while enjoying sweet melodies. Other times–let’s not sugar coat this–they’re just bad. But hey, you have to give them credit for trying. Regardless of talent, I always notice these musicians. But that does not necessarily mean that I take a moment to stop and enjoy their music.

Gene Weingarten’s “Pearls Before Breakfast” proves an interesting point about typical busy, rushed Americans: we don’t always take time to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes we miss out on incredible beauty when it is literally right in our faces–or ears. People (myself included) often get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of their tiring days that they don’t take a little time to listen to the talents of street musicians.

Weingarten’s article follows the story of Joshua Bell, a famous violinist, performing in a crowded area of Washington, D.C. during a busy time of day. A man who is used to performing in front of large audiences who paid large amounts of money to see him, Bell was shocked at the remarkably small number of people who put money in his case, or even stopped to listen to him play.

When I first started reading the article, I thought to myself that people must be crazy to not stop and listen to such a talented musician play for free. But as I read on, I realized that I am one of those people at times. Even if I enjoy what I’m hearing, sometimes I just feel to rushed to listen to a street performer.

People who walk by street performers without taking a second listen often miss out not only on hearing talented musicians, but also getting to know interesting people. So whether I’m walking around the Old Market on a Saturday night or wandering around downtown Lawrence on a lazy Sunday, I will be more conscious of the street musicians around me. This time I will stop to smell the roses.

Fit for a king

I try to make a point to browse through the Lawrence Journal World online every day; I like knowing what’s going on in Lawrence, Kan., the city where I lived for the first 18 years of my life.  I skim through the articles, getting a general feel for the big events around Lawrence.  But yesterday an article caught my eye that I knew I wanted to read in its entirety.

Similarly, in early September, I read an article on ljworld.com that caught my attention.  Students at my alma mater, Lawrence Free State High School, discovered that a few seniors with disabilities had been left off the Homecoming Court nomination ballot.  They quickly petitioned the right to include these deserving students on the ballot, after the initial Homecoming Court had already been determined.

Many school officials had been previously unaware of this practice, and the ballots were immediately rectified.  I was horrified that my high school had formerly been so discriminatory, but so happy that students (none of whom I know) discovered this clearly offensive and unfair policy and took  action to make a change.

Remembering the article from earlier in September, I found myself beaming yesterday morning while I read about Free State’s newest Homecoming King.  Owen Phariss, a senior with Down syndrome, won the title of Homecoming King, to the joy of his family, friends and the entire student body.  After reading the article, I felt such a rush of emotion–which didn’t stop as I looked through pictures and watched a video of the event.  The look on Phariss’ face as he was announced King is one of pure joy, which was echoed in the smiling faces of his mother and his friends.  Needless to say, a few tears escaped my eyes after reading the article, looking at the pictures and seeing the video.

By this point, I don’t know students at my former high school; even some of the faculty and staff have changed since I graduated in 2008.  But after reading such a powerful story and seeing it expressed visually (ahh, the power of the media), I am so proud to be a Free State High School alum.

If that’s  not the feel-good story of the year for this humble Midwestern college down, I don’t know what is.