Friday, May 1, 2015

An Evening with David Brooks

Last night was a perfect night.  I had gotten tickets to see David Brooks.  The first e-mail seemed to say they would cost money--not the requirement to buy a book, which I could be OK with, but a ticket purchase.  I hesitated.  My dad told me what a great speaker Brooks is and said I should go. He had paid to see Brooks speak at the Smithsonian and said it was worth every penny.

When a follow up e-mail came, I clicked on the link to buy tickets.  But they were free!  So that was the first thing that made the night delightful.  Did I just misread the first e-mail?  Did they not have enough people buy tickets and so they gave them away?

Anyway, the thought that we got free tickets made me so happy.  What didn't make me happy was the thought of getting to downtown Miami.  Someone asked me once why we don't do more in Miami, and that's my answer--we can never be sure what the traffic will be.  Last night, we left 2 hours before the event began.

Last night it was heavy, but it kept moving, even when we were only going 25 mph.  We found the Miami Dade College campus easily and parked the car.  We walked around the campus to figure out where we'd be, and then we went into a restaurant, DRB 180.  They had a great happy hour menu, so we made our dinner out of that food:  sliders with blue cheese, fries, and an amazing grilled cheese sandwich with bacon. 

How have I not thought to put bacon on grilled cheese before?

It was a wonderful meal, and then we were off to the Chapman Center.  We got there early because I didn't want to have to stand through the presentation, but I needn't have worried.  There were plenty of seats.

So, we watched the people.  I'm assuming that most of us were in the 50-70 age range, mostly white, probably fairly affluent/middle class.   I thought it was interesting that most of the men looked fairly similar, while the women varied differently:  a wide range of hair styles and colors, many different make-up styles, lots of types of glasses and handbags, and a wide variety of clothes, most of them non-form-fitting.  Not many high high heels--which is strange for a Miami event.

And then it was time for David Brooks.  My dad was right--he's a marvelous speaker.

If you've heard recent interviews with him, you already know the thesis of the book:  that we live in a culture that values what we put on our resumes--which is not necessarily what we'd want people to remember us in eulogies at our funerals.  We live in a culture where there's lots of talk about economics and politics, but not much about how and why to be a good person.  And so, Brooks has contributed to that conversation.

Brooks was funny, especially at the beginning, where he described his own journey.  He's smart and clearly done his reading--but the intellectual material was nicely balanced with stories of other people who mastered the art of being virtuous.  He had a sheaf of papers on the podium, but he never looked like he was reading.

All too soon, it was over and time to go home.  The trip back was easy--never a sure thing, with all the road construction. 

I feel like I used to go to author presentations more often.  Perhaps I did, or perhaps I'm not remembering long stretches of time between outings.

Still, I'd like to do more.  We have lots of opportunities here, and I need to take more advantage of them--especially when they're free.

I need more perfect nights out like last night.

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