“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody's are the same, but you leave 'em all over everything you do” Elvis Presley
Maybe it was wrong to come to Graceland with expectations. But my expectations were not grand; I assumed a visit to Graceland would at the least teach me something new about the star and at best inspire me to buy a cd. I would be lying if I didn’t say I learned something new about Elvis. I did. He was graceful in his charitable contributions. He loved his fans. And he loved fried peanut butter banana sandwiches. But the experience at Graceland lacks the personal touch and attention to details that are needed to leave the casual tourist passing through Memphis with a sense of wonderment or inspiration. To say Graceland is somber would be wrong. Graceland is depressing. The employees never smile. The roads leading to Graceland are surrounded by poverty. And the way the curator has set up the cattle like movement through the exhibits makes you feel more like an intruder.
Get rid of the audio tour and staff exhibits and rooms with human beings who recount the history and answer questions. Heck, the price they charge to see Graceland could easily cover this request. Have a theater that plays a mini documentary that educates the casual fan before they even set foot into the mansion, or the planes, or the garages that house the cars. And get rid of the parking fee.
Elvis said your values are left all over what you do. If he believed this at all, the curator of Graceland needs to make the tribute more grand, more personal, and more philanthropic. Graceland brought me down. But when I paddled later that evening in Alabama, all good was restored.
Mom has been a part of SUP50 for two days now and I think she is starting to understand the necessity to be fluid. We visited our 1975 home in Savannah, Georgia in the Windsor Forrest subdivision. The two pine trees in the backyard are now mature, as well as the carport, the bricks, and the neighboring houses. Aging is shocking. At first it is disappointing to see the effects of time, but upon reflection it helps to remind us that we are a part of something bigger.
We enjoyed a salmon filet and assorted sausages served on a bed of mashed potatoes in downtown Savannah before we made the drive to just outside of Rock City, Georgia. The road kill stories of the south are real. Enough protein littered the drive to solve homeless hunger for at least two days. Thunder cracking, lighting flashing, rain pelting made for a stressful drive. And during the storm I had to remind mom that the 4th of July had passed, and the firework show was a natural one. The bed at Days Inn rivaled the Four Seasons—at least for one evening.
Rock City, Georgia is enchanting. The commercialism is tactfully done and in this rare case adds value. Otherwise Rock City would only be able to be enjoyed the truly adventurous or those scouting the mountain during war.
Twenty-eight days of constant travel will alter the way you process the world. It helps you to notice the differences and the constants. The differences create momentary excitement and wonderment. But it’s the constants that evoke the strongest emotional reflections. These reflections are negative and positive and whether negative or positive, they hurt.
To be short and to surmise this observation with little evidence seems appropriate right now, though I am collecting enough anecdotes to support this conclusion. But just know that we all have an adventurous sprit. That is constant. We desire our days to be filled with new, and with just enough recognition of the old to create comfort. But it is also a constant for too many to avoid the new or compare the new to the past. I try to teach my students that context is king. Each utterance, or in this case, each “new” needs to be understood in its context. This is what hurts; we don’t. And I feel it stems from a lack of understanding that we have one true liberty—the choice to respond to context. Looking too much at the past allows us to create simple responses and answers to what is presently complex. And looking too much in the future allows us to avoid the subtleties of the present that should evoke excitement and wonderment.