I’ve had the pleasure of attending two parties this past year that were hosted by City Arts Magazine here in Seattle. Most recently, the “2016 Future List Party” was held in the newly renovated, historic King Street Station. Music flowed as some of the most stylish people I have seen in town circled the floor enjoying freely delicious food and drink. I loved the event description: “Meet the artists and innovators who will shape the year to come.” Each individual honored came from different artistic genres and mediums, all within Seattle. Some were musicians, film directors, artists, and the like and they were all there–celebrating the arts with the rest of us.
I recently wrote about Kehinde Wiley’s art exhibition opening night at Seattle Art Museum (SAM). One of the performers of the evening was “Industrial Revelation”–a jazz ensemble that had won The Stranger’s “Genius Award” in 2014. I love that musicians of such genius were acknowledged in the community in which I live. City Arts’ awards and The Stranger’s awards are no Grammy’s or Oscars. They are independently established honors, sure to market their publications, but also to make sure individuals and groups worth mentioning get noticed.
Calendar holidays, religious celebrations, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, awards and recognitions: those are the big days for celebration, and often exclusively so in our lives. We recognize the rites of passage that certain birthdays herald in particular. We eat an expensive and extravagant meal to honor the longevity of our relationship(s). We spend a lot of money on decor and festivities for special moments in our religious community, educational journey, career or organization. Those are all wonderful moments that absolutely deserve celebration. What would happen if we celebrated a bit more?
I exchange messages almost daily with a friend of almost twenty years (pictured left), via the walky-talky-esque app Voxer. Renee and I talk a lot about celebration. In the everyday, there is a lot to celebrate–not just in a tongue-in-cheek sense or a patronizing way. Regularly we experience moments of significance in our minds, bodies, and spirits as well as in our relationships and work. What would it look like to celebrate those?
Two years ago, I sat with my staff team and asked “What would it look like for us to have more fun this year?” I said “We don’t have to answer that now, but that’s something to think about in the weeks and months ahead.” What happened? We had a lot more fun. One of the things I initiated was the giving of awards to staff and graduate assistants in our office. We decided that we wouldn’t acknowledge it being “a thing” and would act like we didn’t know what people were talking about if they made mention of it afterward. I purchased custom design medals on Amazon, and we designed a template where we could award the “Golden ___” award to individuals based on their way of being in the world or work that we appreciated. About once a month, we would march through the hallway with kazoos and bow, presenting a rolled-up scroll that proclaimed what the award was and why, while offering up the medal to the awardee. Laughter and fun happened before, during, and after each of those moments.
What do you have to celebrate today? What moment of significance and meaning has gone un-celebrated lately for you? What can you do to live a little and name its existence? How can you welcome other people into that celebration? How can you make celebration a bit more of a regular habit?