A late afternoon telephone call from a friend caught me off guard. He said, “You can’t believe this place. I’ve been driving and driving and all I’ve seen is corn. I just passed a place called the Corn Palace and it is amazing. I’m going to send you a picture of it. You have to include it in your blog.” I responded, “You’ve got a deal. I don’t know anything about corn, but the Corn Palace will be in tomorrow’s blog. Of course, for whatever reason, the picture he was sending still hasn’t made it through cyberspace.
Hanging up the phone, I had the thought: “Sometimes work gets in the way.” I serve on the board of a national organization located in Washington, D.C. Several months ago the organization made plans to host a leadership retreat in the fall. Subsequently an invitation was extended by St. Joseph’s Indian School located in Chamberlain, South Dakota to host the leadership retreat on their campus in conjunction with their 40th Annual American Indian Day and Powwow.
I often ask the General to accompany me to work related meetings, but she normally declines. I can’t say that I blame her. For one thing, despite the location, most of the activities I attend might as well be anywhere, because the conference schedule never affords the opportunity for sightseeing or exploration of the area unless you go early or stay beyond the scheduled activity. Consequently, she’s never too thrilled with the thought of being stranded in a hotel by herself or left to her own discretion for sightseeing.
Shortly before 9/11, she and our daughter accompanied me to a conference I attended in New York City. Trust me, the two of them together saw it all. The hotel was located near Central Station and they had the city at their disposal. We actually took a couple of extra days for exploration on our own prior to my meeting, but they didn’t let my being in a conference stop them from the Empire State building, Central Park, the World Trade Center, a host of museums and So Ho.
I recently ran across pictures from that trip. It seems like a lifetime ago. We’d never been to New York City before. It proved to be an adventure and we found New Yorkers to be very personable and helpful. It was nothing like the warning we received from friends who’d been and said they had no interest in going back. They thought the city was difficult to negotiate and people were unfriendly. Maybe we lucked out, who knows, but ours was a very different experience.
That was probably the last work related business meeting located in an interesting destination that the General has opted to accompany me on. She really doesn’t have interest in filling time exploring uncharted territory on her own. That is, until now.
Actually, when I told her that South Dakota was the destination and that it was near Mount Rushmore she was all in. We’d take some extra time and explore the scenery on our own. In fact, as early as last week, she asked me again: “When is our trip to South Dakota?”
She was surprised when I responded, “The meeting is next week, but I had to cancel. We can’t go because I have two board meetings during that same time.” She said, “Wouldn’t you know it. The one place I wanted to go and it gets cancelled because of your work.”
Actually, I too, was disappointed. I was also interested in the Indian Powwow that was being held in conjunction to the celebration at Saint Joseph’s Indian School. It would have been a nice diversion from business as usual. I think the time that folks invest in sharing their culture, heritage and tradition with others has value.
Two or three years ago, we were in the mountains of North Carolina on vacation and went to a play entitled the “Unto These Hills” that highlighted the plight of the Cherokee Indians. Theirs is a stirring legacy filled with mistreatment and heartbreak. “Trail of tears” is an accurate description of their pilgrimage. The play took place in an outdoor theatre under the stars in Cherokee, North Carolina.
The presentation also included Indian dances and drums prior to the performance. I guess I was anticipating something similar at the Powwow in South Dakota. It is scheduled for this weekend, but the Powwow will go on without us being present. Did I mention that sometimes work gets in the way?
Of course, that trip to South Dakota would have been work related, but the two board meetings taking place in Houston and Brenham this week were a higher priority than the national organization. There is something about needing to get the approval of next year’s budget that seemed really important.
While it is true that work often gets in the way, it also has provided me opportunities unlimited to going places and being in situations I’d never experience without the work related connection. Consequently, it is all part of the pilgrimage. If the General really wants to see Mount Rushmore, we’ll add South Dakota to a vacation venue.
All My Best!
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