The summer I was 17, I wandered on to the campus of a prestigious women’s college in Western Massachusetts. [I ended up graduating from this same school, but that is another story]
I fell in love with this campus, the idyllic beauty of it: its castle-like buildings with towers and leaded glass; its Upper Lake rushing into more sedate Lower Lake; the stone bridge in the woods near the horse stables; the college’s formal gardens pooled at the bottom of a long stretch of wooden stairs; its Victorian greenhouse of whitened-glass, iron, and meringue-like tops ; its chapel bell mellow and slow in its chiming, marking each quarter hour, as though time itself stretched longer there; leaves stirring high above in hundred-year old trees, a place quiet yet not, a sacred beauty in which to learn.
Beyond its beauty, though, the school was steeped in tradition. I loved that in every dorm there was a grand piano (even though I didn’t play), and that there could be such a day as Mountain Day. [A gift, bestowed on students by the college president, on one day in October – a postcard-perfect one – heralded by the constant ringing of the chapel bell in the early morning hours. There would be no classes that day because New England’s foliage was just too beautiful to stay inside. Many students would travel by van to nearby Mount Holyoke, the college’s namesake, to climb to its peak and savor the view across the valley]
Theme: Imagine Your Future to Be Wholly Present
Visionary: Scott Barry Kaufman
Prompt: “What recurring daydream for 2016 inspires you to do business as unusual like never before?”
Well, my recurring daydream is tied to Mount Holyoke and one of its traditions: M&Cs (or Milk & Crackers). Basically, every night – at around 9 or 9:30 pm – everyone would stop studying and walk downstairs – even in pajamas (when I was there they were Lanz nightgowns) – to the dorm kitchen for M&Cs (we always hoped for cookies or graham crackers with peanut butter). You would get your snack and either head back up to your room, or you could sit and laugh with friends, or talk about a paper you were struggling with, or listen to someone trying out their Russian or Japanese language skills. The tradition fostered community, helped reduce isolation.
My daydream. over the last year or so, has been to create a 1-hour, weekly M&C’s inspired event. I have dreamed of hosting it in the Naperville Women’s Club because every time I drive by its building, it makes my heart happy and reminds me of my alma mater (and oh, I love its purple door). I’m not a member there, nor do I feel a great desire to be right now, but I long for the companionship of women friends, who are also busy with their full lives, have limited time, and maybe just long for a quick moment to connect, take a breath, and then get back to it, same as I do. I envision the event as an easy-as-warm-flannel kind , one that demands nothing of you, but that you show up as yourself and be as present or as day-dreamy as you like.
Founded in 1897, the Naperville Woman’s Club (NWC) is one of the longest-standing organizations in Naperville. The club represents six generations of women whose goal was and is to enrich their community, form friendships, and engage in lifelong learning.
Scott Barry Kaufman is scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he investigates the measurement and development of intelligence, imagination, and creativity.