I'm going in search of cultural enlightenment...join me?
Last week, I decided to revisit one of my favorite authors, Jen Lancaster and picked up a copy of her 2011 memoir My Fair Lazy. While it didn't make my personal list of her best work (new readers should start with Bitter is the New Black), it did inspire my next self-improvement project (how many of those do we all have in progress?). As per the book description, My Fair Lazy is where Jen "chronicles her efforts to achieve cultural enlightenment...by any means necessary: reading canonical literature, viewing classic films, attending the opera, researching artisan cheeses, and even enrolling in etiquette classes to improve her social graces." Oh? You mean she strives to be more...polished? Hello, lightbulb moment!
Living in New York City, I can't help but be exposed to culture merely by walking down the street. Quite frankly, I take it for granted that my social plans often involve going to a Broadway show, checking out a screening at the IFC Center or consuming copious amounts of artisanal cheeses. Last summer, when my sorority sister and I took advantage of the American Ballet Theater's 18/29 Club to see three spectacular performances, it wasn't sparked by any concerted effort to expand our cultural horizons- I really just wanted to see Swan Lake (which was phenomenal). I've taken an Alvin Ailey extension class with a world-class choreographer, participated in talkbacks with the writers and producers of award-winning Broadway shows and dined at restaurants helmed by master chefs, all without truly appreciating what amazing opportunities those were (and usually while glancing impatiently at my watch and wondering if I'd be able to easily catch a cab home). What would happen if I did make an effort not only to be more mindful of my everyday cultural encounters but also to actively seek them out? Particularly since I intend to leave NYC someday and many of the opportunities that I have here won't be available to me anymore.
Well, I intend to find out. I may not have "Page Six socialites, gourmet chefs, an opera aficionado, and a master sommelier," at my beck and call but henceforth, I am going to intentionally engage in "the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties, especially by education" (thank you Merriam-Webster) at least once a month. I'll add some classic films to my Netflix rotation, get around to the books I keep bypassing en route to chick-lit (or that I've only read the CliffsNotes version of) and try to spend less time concerning myself with the latest Kardashian antics and more time polishing my pearls (figuratively speaking). Hopefully this is the start of a lifelong journey (aren't they all?) toward achieving cultural satori and I hope you'll be inspired to kick off a similar effort of your own!
This month- what better way to start than with Pygmalion? I'll read the myth, the play it inspired, and revisit My Fair Lady with a whole new appreciation for Miss Doolittle's transformation!