Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lessons from Leslie Knope

As per usual, I arrived in Pawnee a bit late. But like most Knope-inspired acts, my arrival came at the perfect time. Facing the start of my third semester of grad school, my most difficult yet, I felt like it was all I could do to keep my feet on solid ground.

Then,  fell into a pit. And it was the best decision I ever made. 

Leslie Knope and the city of Pawnee welcomed me with open arms. At its core, Parks is a love letter--to second chances, to flaws, to kindness, to a miniature horse, to my beloved Midwest, and above all, to friendship. I laughed through my tears, ate a lot of breakfast food, and learned lessons that will always remain close to my heart:

Be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do. This has become something of a mantra to me, and because it's currently my desktop background, I see it every day while I'm working on homework. As trite as it sounds, this is such an encouragement to me. Unlike Leslie, I have a tendency to procrastinate. I get distracted. I scroll through Instagram (or write blog posts) when I'm bored or practicing avoidance. And then I read those words. Would Leslie mindlessly scroll through her Facebook newsfeed (Gryzzlfeed?) or would she make a binder and get shit done? I share Leslie's passion and enthusiasm for community. I'm working on her unbridled drive.

"Librarians are dangerous." Admittedly, this one may be a bit of a stretch. Tammy 2 is a dangerous librarian because she's vindictive, manipulating, and also looks really, really hot in a pencil skirt. But librarians are dangerous. We fight for intellectual freedom and privacy in the face of censorship (and the Patriot Act). We provide access to all information, not just what is widely popular or accepted. We give a sense of place to those seeking refuge, whether it be from the elements or from ignorance. Much like Leslie's beloved parks, everyone is welcome. While I will have to disagree with Leslie on the "mean, rude, and conniving," I will say that we are well-read. And with this powerful knowledge, we are the most dangerous punk-ass book jockeys in history. 

"Uteruses before duderuses." While I've always had a good mixture of both male and female friends, I've always had a special bond, a special place in my heart for my girls. Leslie is unapologetically, madly in love with her female friends. She values their friendship and supports them wholeheartedly in all of their endeavors. More than anything, she wants them to be happy.  I have so many beautiful tropical fish in my life, and if I could, I would cross stitch your beautiful faces on throw pillows just so you would never doubt how amazing you all are.

"No one achieves anything alone." These words came at a perfect time. Never in my life have I been more aware of the support and love that surrounds me. Grad school is difficult. I spend most of my time in various nests in my apartment, textbooks and notebooks spread before me, the glow of my laptop my only companion. Even for this introvert, it can feel very isolating. I haven't been a very good friend (or wife, or daughter) this past year, it pains me to admit. I've flaked out on invitations for parties, bars, coffee, movies. I've holed myself away night after night, headphones in, eyes squinting with only a handful of words spoken to my husband. I haven't called, I haven't checked in. I've been distracted and forgetful. But the wonderful people in my life, my family (whether by blood or by choice) have supported me wholeheartedly. I know I don't deserve it, but without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. Without their unfaltering support, their patience and kindness, their encouragement, I would have given up long ago. I would have never even began. No one achieves anything alone.

Sometimes despite your best efforts, you fall into the pit. It hurts. It's embarrassing. It may not be your finest moment. But do not be discouraged. Stand up, brush off the dirt, and turn that pit into the best damn park Pawnee has ever seen. Sometimes, inevitably, you fall into the pit. But falling into the pit isn't the end. Sometimes, with a lot of hard work and a little help from your friends, falling into the pit is just the beginning.

Thank you, Leslie. For everything.  

1 comment:

  1. "I know I don't deserve it, but without them, I wouldn't be where I am today."

    No, boo. You absolutely deserve it.