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Avoiding The Wizard of Oz Syndrome

by on May 13, 2009

by: Lawrence M. Watkins

Last weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to go home to Louisville and attend the Kentucky Derby. Growing up, I was not allowed to participate in many of the Derby festivities. My father was a Major with the Louisville Metro Police Department and was often over security for the city’s Derby festivities. Because of this task, he was subjected to a lot of foolishness through the years during Derby in order to serve and protect the city’s patrons. Therefore, he insulated me from most of the damaging behavior that comes with having an extra 200,000 people in the Louisville metro area of only 700,000 residents. This year was only my second “true” Derby experience and it was completely different from the Derby with which my father was familiar. I was excited to get the weekend rolling!

As I boarded my plane from Ithaca, NY all I could think about was how much fun I was going to have at all of the VIP events and all of the interesting people I was going to meet. Thanks to an awesome friend, my girlfriend, Kandice, and I were given some box seats to the Derby and tickets to all of the VIP galas. I was afforded the opportunity to spend hours with some of the top entertainers, athletes, and business moguls in the nation. I quickly became disappointed, however, as I transitioned from dreaming about talking to ‘Deity XYZ’ to actually speaking to him in person.

After exchanging small talk for a few minutes, I asked each person one simple question, “What are you passionate about?” My goal was to attain deeper insight on what made them successful. After proposing the question, each individual looked at me for a moment with a perplexed expression. After a much anticipated silence, most of individuals said, “Wow . . . No one has ever asked me that before.” As people answered this question for me throughout the evening, I slowly became saddened and disappointed by their responses. I was shocked by the amount of times I heard “making money”, “ballin’”, and “I have no idea” as simple responses to the question asked of them. I then asked myself a vital question . . . Is there really anything more to life than fast cars, chartered jets, and high class sporting events?

On the other side of the spectrum were the people from Kentucky who came to the Derby events to stargaze and take pictures with celebrities. For example, there was a lady, the wife of a multi-millionaire, who was having a conversation with Kandice about how she was ecstatic to meet all of the great celebrities. The lady then pointed out the fact “Famous Man X” was right behind Kandice and if she turned around at that moment, she would be able to meet him. Kandice told the lady she would be fine without meeting him at that very moment and she was sure they would eventually meet sometime throughout the weekend. The lady was definitely confused by that comment.

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