“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
For the month of February, I am focusing on the word, enthusiasm, a synonym which supports my 2018 word “Devotion”. The definitions of enthusiasm are:
1a : strong excitement of feeling : ardor
b : something inspiring zeal or fervor*
Mardi Gras season is a perfect example of enthusiasm here in Southeast Louisiana. When I moved here from Texas nine years ago, I had no concept of Mardi Gras. It is not a one-day celebration but a seasonal festival. Carnival season starts with the selection of the Royalty for each Krewe’s ball and the majority of the parades run in the final two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras day (also known as Fat Tuesday).
Most people love a parade; the music, floats, and dance teams all melding together to form the celebration which takes Mardi Gras to a whole other level. Some of the bigger parades can have up to thirty floats, with well-known celebrities riding in the parade. There are the high school and college bands from all over the country who march, play and have the crowds dancing on their feet. And of course, there are the throws. What is a throw? To be honest, it is cheap plastic trinkets from beads to stuffed animals, which are tossed from the floats to the crowds. And people act like they are precious and rare commodities, scrambling to catch or pick up the items off the ground. I am a little amused at the enthusiastic parade goers and the lengths they will go in order to capture throws during Mardi Gras season.
As I move through my tenth Mardi Gras season, I have come to realize there are similarities to attending a parade and living life. What if I approached every day with a strong feeling of excitement like going to a parade?
Anticipation-There is preparation and planning needed when attending a parade. Where will I set up, what do I bring, how long will I stay, and do I have a plan for my physical needs (food, water, bathroom, elements, etc)? Next is the excitement factor. I know what to expect and look forward to the sights, sounds, and smells on the parade route. Oh, how I long for some good Jambalaya and King Cake! Another key component is location, location, location. Who wants to be ten deep in a shoulder to shoulder crowd? My husband is a seasoned pro at parading and has the contacts for locations on the parade route, how to get around the crowds by using back roads, and knowing when streets close down for the festivities.
I find living my life is like the anticipation of a parade. I find myself preparing and planning for my daily agenda starting with prayer and journaling. It helps me focus on what I need mentally and spiritually to face the day. I plan for my family’s physical needs and try and keep our home a safe refuge from the ugliness of the world. I find a well thought out plan lays a good foundation to face the day to day hurdles and activities.
Being present-When I hear the sirens from the police and fire trucks (who generally lead the parade and alert the crowd it is about to commence) I focus on the moment. The sounds of the piped in music from the floats and the reverberation of the marching bands gives me goosebumps and fills my heart with joy. I watch the children on the shoulders of dads and big brothers trying to catch a trinket or beads to put in their goody bags. The smiles, laughter, and screams of delight coming from the crowd make me smile. The atmosphere is full of excitement and positive vibes. Then the last float goes by and it is over. A little sadness fills the air as I want there to be one more float. A deep sigh escapes my lips and I start to remember the excitement I recently experienced.
I am reminded I should also be present in my life. There will be joy, excitement, laughter, and delight which I should embrace and soak into my soul. I should not worry what could be around the corner; fear, sadness, grief, and disappointment. Life is made up of all these emotions and in order to be present, I have to face and live through the good as well as the bad.
Fellowship-A parade consists of a diverse crowd of people. We generally meet some of our friends, or family will come into town and join us, and it is a great way to get away from technology and focus on relationships. We generally arrive several hours before the parade starts in order to set up and avoid street closures. While waiting for the parade it is custom to get to know the people around you, find out if they are local or out of town, what did they bring to eat, and what has been their favorite parade. It is not uncommon by the time the parade rolls; we are sharing food, helping each other catch throws, and hosting our own dance party.
God is about relationships and so is life. God made us social in order to interact and take care of one another. This is why I am involved in a church and volunteer so I can fellowship with others. I am amazed how moving to Louisiana nine years ago has afforded me new friends and relationships I would have not developed if I had not followed God’s lead. I look forward to how my community will continue to grow in the future due to new connections with others.
Life is like a parade. It is totally worth the anticipation, enthusiasm, the relationships, and the making of memories. If you ever have the opportunity to come down to Southeast Louisiana and experience Mardi Gras, I highly recommend it. There are many family-friendly parades all over the area and you can learn the history of the parades and get more details at http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/parades.html. Blessings and Happy Mardi Gras!