Anyone who follows my writing and knows me well knows that I am more of an outdoor girl than an indoor girl, and I have never been known for my sophistication. I like to keep it real and simple, and I have no problem embracing and loving my farming roots. Even though I would rather be at an Eagles or Fleetwood Mac concert, I actually like a lot of different kinds of music.
When I was in college in Duluth at St. Scholastica, in the late 1970’s, we were required to take a class or community education item that had nothing to do with our major. It had to be approved, but the number and variety of choices were very great. The school really pushed us to have a well rounded education. It was a really good school. In my very first year of college, I selected season tickets to the Duluth Symphony Orchestra of all things. As I say, you need to try everything at least once and even at that age I knew it was more fun to get out of my comfort zone and try new things than to embrace the same old things.
I was in the nursing program and loved my science classes including the anatomy and physiology courses that came with the mandatory cadaver lab. I actually liked cadaver lab. I grew up on a farm, so life and death were a part of our existence, and being from a small Catholic community, everyone attended every wake and funeral that occurred. The wakes always involved open caskets with viewing of the body and the kids came along to the wakes from an early age. I was not bothered by a dead human and found the study of human anatomy fascinating.
So when it came time to pick a class unrelated to my major out in the community, I chose the symphony, something that had nothing to do with science or memorizing the parts of the body, and something we did not listen to on the farm. It was not expensive thanks to a relationship between the symphony and the college. Two other friends signed up with me and surprisingly we enjoyed it a lot more than we expected. We had talked beforehand and decided it may be quite boring, and as tired as we were from studying anatomy until all hours of the night, we would probably fall asleep. However, that was not a problem at all. We never fell asleep. We actually really looked forward to it after a while.
There was a monthly concert and I was excited for it. We dressed up and went to dinner before hand and it got to be a real event. It was so different than what I had done in the past. We were listening to Aerosmith and Bob Seger and we went to rock concerts. The symphony music was so much better than I thought it would be. I was really surprised how emotional the music felt. It could make you move in your chair or it could make you feel nervous or excited or be completely relaxed where your mind could wonder. It was surprising. I am glad the school required us to expand our education and interests; otherwise I never would have bought tickets to the Duluth Symphony on my own. I would have gotten too busy with the tasks for my classes and what must be accomplished; unless forced to do this required education I would not have had that wonderful experience.
It was more than 30 years ago, but the educational affects of trying new things still lingered. A couple of years ago I heard one of my law partners talking about his daughter who is an opera singer. She had the lead in the Romeo and Juliette opera at the Ordway in St. Paul. I was really excited about that. I had never been to the opera and my first reaction was that I don’t like opera. But I caught myself. How could I dismiss it so easily as something I don’t like, if I have never been to one, and this would be extra special because we kind of knew someone in it or at least we knew her mother and father, and we knew they were really nice people. We had heard about their daughter Elli, and how she lived in New York and she was a sought after opera star in Europe and the U.S. We had also seen pictures and she was a beautiful girl. I was definitely in.
I knew I could count on Joe because he is always a good sport about trying new things, but I wanted to make it a real event and why not pass on that Scholastica philosophy of trying new things? I asked my kids if they would go and I explained who Elli was and that we would have to dress up. They were all in. They had never been before, but they always took the opportunity to do something new as well.
I invited my parents too. I knew they would be up for something new, exciting and different. They were farmers from Buckman, but they were well traveled having been to Australia and all over Asia, and of course all over the U.S. This made it even more special because now there were three generations of us all dressed up and going to the opera, all of us for the first time. It was interesting because we had all been camping, traveling, boating and fishing together for years, but never the opera. Not all three generations. I was so proud of all of them, kids and parents alike, for being so adventurous and willing to try something new and so upbeat. I love this crowd. They are never a bunch of complainers or whiners, and they try to always be positive. My parents and my kids are all a lot alike. They are fun to be around, because they are all adventurous, fun and positive people.
We dressed up at my house so even the getting ready was an event. We went to dinner first and then the opera. Joe dropped us off at the door like dignitaries, and we went in to wait for him. The opera was surprisingly good. Beautiful costumes and great singing. Of course Elli was amazing and looked lovely and even though the opera was in Italian, you knew exactly what was going on. It was a cultural experience for everyone that again took us a little out of our comfort zone, but again reminded me and of course taught my kids that you should try everything at least once. Don’t assume or jump to the conclusion that you will not like something until you have experienced it.
We also learned that when you try new things, you will actually enjoy them if you are with the right people. Going with positive people is a key to enjoying new adventures and frankly the key to a happy life. Some people look for the things that are negative or look for things to complain about. No one likes being around that, because it makes everyone feel bad. It takes practice and the right attitude to find the good things in life and enjoy life. To always find the good and positive things to say about anything and anyone. That is the attitude of my people—my parents and kids— and that is the attitude that makes new adventures fun! Practice positivity. It is never said better than in the old adage: if you cannot say anything nice don’t say anything at all. Surround yourself with positivity and you will be happy and you will be able to find something great and enjoyable in every new thing that you try.