Saturday, June 18, 2011

don't postpone joy

I had intended to drive to town today. In early December I saw Tom Moore in the hallway and as we were going past each other he said, "You get that letter?" He was following up on a conversation we had had when we were at a meeting a few weeks prior. "Got it." I said. "Great" I heard as he walked beyond me. A week or two later I heard that Tom, the dean of our business school at Northeastern, was stepping down. The word was that he was ill. This past Thursday we received an e-mail from the university president that Tom Moore had succumbed to cancer. Six months, nearly to the day when he had put on his coat, asked an associate to cancel his meetings for the next day, and walked out of the office.

So today I had intended to drive to town and attend a memorial service. I can't, at least right now. A driver heading east on the Mass Turnpike today will not be able to exit the road, at least for a few hours. The Boston Bruins are world champions of the NHL and they are having the mother of all parades in downtown Boston. I flipped on the television and you cannot believe what is doing on Boylston street, a major artery in the city.

Those of you who have read the Epilogue to the Madness of March, may remember that I am not much of a hockey fan, but the point in the book is that there is something to envy about those who are such fanatics about hockey or basketball or anything else. The joy that is apparent among those who managed to get into town in time before they closed the pike and surrounding streets, is worth admiring.

It was on Wednesday night when the Bruins defeated the Canucks in the 7th game. I watched the first two periods on an elliptical machine in a health club. At the end of two, the Bruins led 3-0. Between the second and third period I went to shower thinking that I would see the end of the game at a tavern not far from my home. Another gym goer bolted into the locker room while I was looking at my locker changing from my exercising duds. I heard him talking to himself and, you might think, the entire Bruins team. "Just play the third period the same way. Just play the third period the same way." By the time I turned around to chat he had vanished. Nobody ever got from gym to street clothes faster.

When I stopped at the local tavern there were 10 minutes left. I thought the place would explode with glee--and it did. When the Bruins scored an empty net goal to make it 4-0 one fellow took it upon himself to high five the entire community of drinkers. When the Bruins won it was pandemonium. The same high fiver was behind me and began massaging the back of my neck before moving on to similarly express his joy to others.

The parade will end shortly and there is a separate memorial service for Tom at the university which I will attend later today. But the juxtaposition of this kind man's sudden demise and the unrestrained rejoicing in Boston is something to consider. Today my brother turns 60. I once bought a bumper sticker that he liked and I gave it to him. The sticker read, "Don't Postpone Joy." We talked this morning and he told me he still has the sticker. Truer words never appeared on the rear of an automobile. "Don't Postpone Joy."