My review of what I refer to as the Zenyatta phenomenon is up today at 300 Reviews. It’s nice to see its publication right on the heels of Derby weekend.
The Kentucky Derby’s a thing in my house. My husband always buys me roses. We always watch the race together. I normally yell loudly at the tv. My horse normally runs somewhere around eighth.
This year, though, I had a completely different experience. I watched it from Tuscaloosa, my hometown and the place I’d spent the previous week trying to do what I could to help people I love deal with the devastating tornadoes that swept through town. My husband was states away. This year, I was the one buying flowers—I kept bringing them into the house where my sweet friends Brian & Barry live, the house where I helped cook so people could congregate after volunteering or dealing with their own displacement and damages from the storm.
The flowers were frivolous, particularly given the fact that many of my friends spent their days helping people—sometimes attempting to recover belongings from the rubble of their homes, other times, helping them pick out a starter’s supply of new possessions at one of the emergency relief groups working in Tuscaloosa. You might argue that it wasn’t a time for flowers. But I believed it was precisely such a time, believed that we needed to be reminded that some ephemeral things are quite beautiful. I believed that while we confronted all the bad things nature can hold and enact, we also needed to be reminded that it is often very lovely, that we needed to acknowledge that things are not all bad or all good, that life is much too complex and interconnected to be so black & white.
And in many ways, that’s what this review is about—why we should care about things that appear to be completely outside of our own experiences and concerns.
I should add that I’m not sure anyone who passed through that house over the ten days I was there gave any thought to those flowers, or, if they did, that they thought anything close to what I was thinking about them. And I’m okay with that.
(Also, my horse this year was Shackelford. He ran fourth.)
(Also, in case you’ve missed my previous post, you should check out the stunning TUSCALOOSA RUNS THIS, the book my friend Brian Oliu put together in support of tornado relief efforts. It’s worth your time.)