Originally uploaded by norvegal
On my walk this morning I discovered this beautiful sweet-smelling harbinger of spring. It shares the side of a building with an ancient wisteria vine that, too, was showing signs of renewal. I stood there and greedily sniffed this magical fragrance over and over and over again until I started to get dizzy.
Today had an odd vibe in Portland, though. A very tense, aggressive vibe. It was raining, which isn't at all unusual. But the traffic was bad. Backed up beyond anything normal for this little town. Stopped, in fact. People were honking. Yelling. Swerving. Doing stupid things they don't normally do.
And on the sidewalk, people with stern faces and big umbrellas kept pushing past me. People with Somewhere to Go, if you know what I mean. A giant Portland police "Special Situations Unit" van drove by slowly, packed with policemen in full garb. Have we been invaded? Attacked? Where was the protest?
Well, it turns out they were all in town to experience the so-called world-famous motivational mega-show called Get Motivated. It features, among others, America's #1 Motivator, Ameria's Best Inspirational Speaker, America's #1 Health and Fitness Expert, the President and CEO of Forbes, Inc. (hint: his name rhymes with Steve Forbes), and America's #1 Mayor (hint: he and a famous reindeer share the same first name).
For a mere $19, you could send your entire office to spend the day being told, among other things, how to get everything you want, how to reach goals you never thought possible, how to maximize your sales potential, how to get ahead and stay ahead, how to unlock the secrets of anti-aging, and how to provide leadership for New York City after a terrorist attack.
Not to belittle the people who were coming to this show. I think it's noble and good to strive to become a better person, to push ourselves to excel, to move beyond our comfort zones and dwell in that daring, scary place where miracles can happen.
But the vibe leading to this event was not open and uplifting, people were not looking one another in the eye, smiling, and being kind. They were in that aggressive "me-first" mode that I always find just a little bit worrisome (the police in riot gear certainly didn't help). And I found the idea of 5,000 me-firsters jammed in one space, breathing the same air, listening to the same messages, equally worrisome. Call me old-fashioned. Bottom line: I didn't want to be anywhere near town when their 8 hours and 45 minutes of lectures by America's #1 [insert title here] came to a close. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe they will leave uplifted and kinder and better people. I hope so.
But just in case, I'm loading up the ole jalopy and heading north to the country once again, where Casey the cat and a good E.B. White essay (or two) await.