Originally from New Orleans, Lance left the "Big Easy" to study at the University of Kansas and Clemson University. After enjoying the Midwest and Coastal South, he went West to serve at the California Maritime Academy heading up their student conduct and leadership development programs. However, since he had not exhausted all of the cardinal directions, he moved “North” to Evanston where he now serves in the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and Residential Services. In his free time, Lance is an avid college sports fan and can often be seen at your nearest TV taking in the current competition. Beyond that, he enjoys cooking, exploring the outdoors, and, when the weather is reasonable, going for a run.
'A Good Cigar'
I believe I like a good cigar. In fact, I can’t think of a cigar I didn’t like when coupled with good conversation. Enhance the experience with rocking chairs and a front porch, and you’ll find yourself nearly enlightened.
Now, I know it’s a privileged perspective: assuming that everyone can have a cigar; let alone a rocking chair or a front porch. But it’s more of a metaphor, anyway. Today’s world is too fast; the expectation for immediacy coupled with deadlines for today, for a task that was due yesterday, makes us human stress toys; eyes popping out with the slightest application of pressure. We’re a facsimile: a copy of a person transmitted every which-way, producing a grainy, final product trying to be everything to everyone.
Sitting in that rocking chair forces you to slow your world to a sluggish, steady tempo. You can’t rock quickly; go ahead and try. The chair will break or make awful noises. You have to take your time; find your pace. As you do, you’ll find a center that you had lost some time ago; now the world’s chaotic tempo slackens to rhythmic, comforting rocking.
As your mind slows itself, you’re able to see the world from the front porch. You see the fireflies coming out in the warm breeze; hear the creaking of the chairs; smell the coming rain storm. You recognize that the world around you has become larger; the things you once ignored come into focus. The world is a place you exist within, not one that solely revolves around you. As you come to this realization, it creates a mutual understanding between you and the world. What weight you bore from personal issues seem relaxed and inconsequential. You see a broader picture that defies personal interest and promotes an altruism that you had lost in the bedlam of life. The Universe comes into focus.
Having found your mid-summer Nirvana, you may now share in the ritual of a cigar. Those that smoke cigars know that there is a process to it. Though you may share cigars or bring your own; frequently, a lighter and cutter are shared. There are discussions on the best way to cut the cigar, and you may rely on a friend to help light it so the full experience can be appreciated. If someone chooses not to partake (which, of course, is completely acceptable), the cigar-appreciators will sit downwind to ensure others aren’t disturbed by the smoke and ash; however, everyone sits close to engage in conversation and share the wood planked community.
A new paradigm comes into view, where all engage in an open environment, and the focus shifts from the tumult of life to an individual moment in time where people connect in the simplest, yet most profound, kind of way: rocking to the slow world around them, sharing an experience, and discovering that the nature of being human is found with others on the front porch.
I believe I’ll have another cigar now…