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Sunday in the Park

"Clichés are clichés," an English professor once wisely told me, "because they are true." I was too young then, of course, to fully appreciate the wisdom of his words. But there was a time, in my mid-twenties, when I encountered a crazy woman who came from equally crazy parents and I found myself spouting something like "huh, so that what it means to say the apple never falls far from the tree." Then I understood.

About a decade ago, I was sick as I could be from some mystery lung disease. I was handcuffed to an oxygen tank for all but two hours a day. I was filled with a buffet of prescription drugs that messed with my body shape and function. And my head.

By Thanksgiving that year, I was able to be off oxygen by day and was just "hooked up" at night. My adult children (who had not yet produced the three grandchildren yet to come) decided to have a mystery dinner for the holiday. They invited a few close friends, who dressed up as characters from a Clue-like game, and we solved the murder amid the mashed potatoes. I remember thinking that night how good I felt after months of being ill. How lucky I was to have two such caring children. And how, if you have your health and your family, you really do have everything.

And then I laughed to myself and acknowledged the whole clichéd moment.

This year I feel filled with clichés all over again. After a summer where I saw the passing of longtime dear friends, the world turned on its proverbial dime and in a thin moment came crashing down so hard that longstanding financial institutions with hundred-year-old names crumbled, and Wall Street crashed and no one needed bear and bull references anymore when any fool could see there were no dips, only downs, taking place. And bailout no longer referred to being in a boat and needing a bucket.

And we are still there. In the throws of watching other industry giants flounder and gasp, finding themselves in uncharted financial waters, or maybe more like fish out of water, not knowing how or if they will be rescued.

Around town there are rumblings of businesses ready to fall, one on the other, like a house of cards, if things don’t change soon. And there is no soon in sight.

And so I start hearing old expressions fighting to be heard in my head Waste not, want not. A penny saved is a penny earned. A fool and his money are soon parted. A friend in need is friend indeed. If you have your health you have everything.

But this is a season where not everyone I know has their health. Some friends my own age are struggling. Some younger, much younger, are fighting too. And so, as friends and neighbors in a small town, we hold them up. Keep them in our prayers. Try to make their burdens light. To a person, they just want to lead normal lives. They don’t want to be fussed over. They just want to be well.

And as we enter the holiday season we are reminded more then ever in these uncertain times that the "stuff" we are encouraged to buy is quickly forgotten. The shiny objects tarnish or break or need to be cared for. What survives are the memories. The laughter, the quiet cup of tea, the thoughtful discussion about the good book. The time spent taking the walk, the drive, the card left on the porch. It really is the little things

This week Mayor Dana Williams declared the day after Thanksgiving to be "Giving Day" in Park City, in recognition of all the nonprofits that exist here and contribute to our quality of life. It is a national trend to encourage folks to look at ways to give that day after Thanksgiving instead of getting, getting stuff in the shopping-day frenzy. And as someone who works in that sector, I will confess I have more than a passing interest. But as importantly, as someone who has lived here nearly thirty years, raised two children and now am enjoying my grandchildren visiting often, I can say the nonprofits are what sets this community apart.

When I moved here the heartbeat of the town was the Kimball Art Center. The kids took classes there, we saw plays there, there was, of course, art on the walls and visiting artists would speak to us about how their work was created. It was a magical place where events were free or at least felt so very accessible. We were there often. And so was the rest of the town. It was my first encounter where I understood this was a nonprofit and it existed by the kindness of strangers and friends.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to watch the growth of both the arts and nonprofits here. The resurrection of the Egyptian Theatre, the creation of a women’s shelter — The Peace House, Friends of the Animals, Mountains Trails, the National Public Radio affiliate-KPCW, nonprofits all.

In this season of giving and receiving it feels more than ever this is a time for reflection. Understanding that the value of our gifts has never been more precious. That the little things really do make a difference. And that we are all connected. Keeping our community whole requires a new vigilance and continued pride. And perhaps more than just a measure of gratitude.

I am thankful to live here, love here, and enjoy an extraordinary quality of life, right here. I try to take none of it granted, not this day, or on any, as good as it gets, Sunday in the Park

Teri Orr is the director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation that provides programming for the George S. and Delores Dore Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and the Big Stars Bright Nights Summer Concert Series at Deer Valley. She is also a former editor of The Park Record.


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