Sunrise at Lake Papakeechie
The big Leffers family 4thof July blowout, 2018, was (as usual), a rollicking good time at our family cottage, Cloud Nine, on Lake Papakeechie. I got to see most of my family for at least one day, and some for a few days. People come from all over—California, North Carolina, just outside of Washington D.C., southern, central, and northeast Indiana, and then there’s me, who is simply on my drive-about. (I tell people that my home is my body. I think to myself, when I say that: “it’s about time!”)
Corn Hole competition, round one.
(Btw. daughter, Gina, and granddaughter, Haley, won this round! LOL)
Some things are the same every year at our family gathering: 1. Mass chaos! There are 8 of us siblings who own the place together, and most of us, our children, and grandchildren show up for this yearly experience. 2. So. Much. Food! Everyone brings food to grill and dishes to share, so there is always plenty. 3. Competitive games. This year it was Corn Hole, fastest swimmer from dock to raft, and jousting while standing on paddle boards. Most years the Flotilla race is part of the fun, but it happened on the morning of the 4ththis year, and out-of-towners were all headed home by then. My brother, Steve, who lives in Fort Wayne did run it this year and he came in third overall and first in his age group (Master’s). I got the report from him while I was driving to Chautauqua.
That’s me STANDING on the paddle board! I did it three more times the next day! It was awesome!
Mosaic inlay in the floor of the Hall of Philosophy.
This is an amazing experience for me! I have never before been in a place that is populated by people who are like-minded. When I saw the mosaic inlay in the photograph above, I burst in to tears and cried with something like a feeling of relief. Jane Addams was one of three primary philosophers I used in my dissertation. When she was alive, her philosophic work was not recognized in the world of academic philosophy. But here she is, included in the floor of the Hall of Philosophy at Chautauqua.
Every weekday morning there is a lecture in the large Amphitheater, and every seat is filled. New York Times columnist, David Brooks, spoke this week. He was funny and insightful, and when he was finished speaking, every person in the audience stood and clapped. He’s calling for republicans and democrats to shed the tribal mentality and find ways to foster community based on our allegiance to the founding values of our country. He believes that even in this time of “isolation and loneliness and division, we will find a way to bond through love and affection.” I’m simplifying his message to the extreme, but he did build a case for his optimism. And as for me, I want to go there, into that optimism, with him.
The second lecture that I attended this week was delivered by Amy Chua. She is a law professor at Yale, and spoke about the political tribalism at the center of our nation’s polarizing divide. Her newest book is: Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations. Professor Chua also made a case for optimism, however, we must begin to see each other as human again, united in the overarching “supergroup” to which we all belong as citizens of this country. We Americans aspire to core values that include hope and freedom and keeping those ideals in mind will help. We fail miserably at times, but we aspire. She believes that “restoring upward mobility in this country should be viewed as a national emergency.”
I will be here at Chautauqua until the end of August, so I will be writing again from here. I realize that I am extraordinarily lucky, and I am thankful every day.
Happily, from the road,