One day my son came home from high school and I asked him how his day had been. He said, "We had a van man." I had never seen Chris Farley's character on SNL at that time, so he had to explain that they had had a motivational speaker. Well, yesterday I got to see a "van man": Stephen Covey.(The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His new book is The 8th Habit: from Effectiveness to Greatness.) The community college where I work sponsored this event, and generously set aside a certain number of free seats for interested employees. It's very expensive to see him (although the people who paid real money got a luncheon, but I doubt that the food was worth what they were charging the general public...or maybe it was by invitation only. According to the local paper, several local businesss leaders were there, but the only one I recognized was the president of our college.)
The presentation, although hot and long, actually contained some interesting, useful, and yes, motivational information. I also bought a book (continuing to assure that Mr. Covey will never have to live in a van down by the river) and had it signed by the author, who said "I see you as a trim-tab." He explained earlier that a trim tab is the small rudder that turns the large rudder on a ship...so he wrote that in my book: Mary--a trim tab! Stephen Covey
What I am really happy about, though, is I have an addition to my esoteric collection of autographed books: Chuck Pahlaniuk (He wrote Fight Club, but I have Diary and another book whose title I forget, but it's true, weird stuff he's encountered which informs his fiction), a collection of articles by Mitch Albom (before he wrote Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven) because he is such a good writer I actually started reading the sports column in The Detroit Free Press) and Growing Up Brady by Barry Williams (Greg on the Brady Bunch). I used to have a signed book by Mary Daly (GynEcology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism), a former Catholic theologian turned radical lesbian feminist, but I threw it away during a crazy time. I don't buy them already signed at the bookstore: I must meet the author. Another prize possession is my photo with Mitch Albom, except it's on one of my dorkiest-looking days EVER...and that is saying something.
I went home from the Covey presentation all motivated and fired up, then on the radio I heard a soldier in Iraq say, "If I'm breathing, it's a good day." I thought, "Cool! That's my new motto! " and it took me all the way to about 3:00 today, at which time I started questioning the meaning of my life again. Apparently it's amassing an eclectic collection of autographed books.