“Where are you off to this summer, Barcelona… Paris… back to New Zealand,” my friend asks.
I mumble an inaudible reply, “Cleeveelaannd, Oohiooo.”
“Wow, you’re going to Cairo.” How exciting.
“No, not Cairo. Ohio. We’re going to Cleveland.”
“Cleveland! What on earth for?”
I sheepishly explain that Howard has the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame on his bucket list and going to Cleveland has been a standing joke in the household for so long that we decided to actually go.
And so we did. And Cleveland was a revelation! All the facilities and cultural venues of a major, world class metropolis in a city smaller in population than a weekend’s attendance at a Lollapalooza weekend.
The professional sports arenas – major league baseball, football and basketball – put Chicago’s sites to shame; ditto the subway and citywide bus network that were clean and efficient. Not only was the art museum first rate, it was free! Of course the music showcase was the main draw, and it was captivating, the audio and video displays and concert areas like a hug from Elvis. We had a gastronomical odyssey in between stops, as well, playing Michelin critic at brew pubs and restaurants in the West Side Market to Little Italy to the Playhouse Square neighborhoods.
But what is more important than the shout out to Cleveland, is the lesson that the visit reinforced.
It reminded me not to pre-judge, not to pack pre-conceived notions into the overnight bag. Rather, to be in the present, with an open mind, observing and enjoying life as it unfolds.
Forming ideas and opinions in advance often obscure a person’s view of things as they really are, because what we look for and what we see are only the things that validate our existing mindset! We miss so much as a result.
Lost opportunities because of pre-conceived notions are more regrettable when they involve relationships, as in the old chestnut, ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover.’ Judgements made with a jaundiced eye prevent us from seeing persons in their true light, the good within them never seen.
What can be even more damaging on a personal level, are preconceptions about one’s destiny to succeed, or fail. How you think, is who you are, and if you believe that opportunities for success are reserved for ‘preselected’ favorites, and because of your background are not accessible to you, that is your self-fulfilling prophesy.
Circling back to the Cleveland travelogue, when Howard and I travel we never get lost! We simply look at each other and laugh and conclude we simply don’t know where we are, leaving us open to discover the astonishment that waits for us around the next corner… like the Frank Gehry architectural marvel that came into view as we wandered off the grounds of the botanical gardens and turned the corner on to the Case Western Reserve University campus!