I've had two huge "I heart DePauw" moments this week. Both of them involved events at which a creative tribe gathered to celebrate an achievement of one of their own - well, three, if you count my own launch party for Izzy Barr, Running Star, which I should.
On Wednesday night I attended a reading by writer Rick Bass, who is spending the semester at DePauw as their Mary Rogers Field Distinguished University Professor of Creative Writing. Lovely Peeler Auditorium was standing room only, or rather, sitting-on-the-floor room only, with students perched everywhere to hear him read two pieces: a personal essay connected with his environmental activism work, which was both a moving and funny account of his getting arrested during White House protests against the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a mesmerizing literary short story about, yes, about a fish. In his comments before and after the reading, he showed such appreciation for DePauw's committed faculty and engaged students, and such love of his craft. When asked by one colleague during the Q & A, "Man, how do you DO that?" he said, "Just be specific. That's all I can say. Be specific, and the reader will follow you anywhere."
Yesterday afternoon I went to a screening of the indie film Reparation, a psychological thriller just released this year and produced with heavy DePauw/Greencastle involvement. I recognized colleagues in the cast, including a colleague's young daughter in a wonderful supporting actress role. Filming was done in Putnam County, including shots of my beloved Dairy Castle, and the downtown courthouse square and farmers' market. On the soundtrack for the film I could hear music written and performed by Gus Moon - who played for my Izzy Barr launch party! I thought the film was terrific - intense, absorbing, beautifully acted and filmed from start to finish. The small theater - our only movie theater in town - was packed.
Afterward the audience drifted across the street to the Fluttering Duck and sat outside on the patio listening to music by Gus Moon, Ron Dye (father of the young actress), and others, on a perfect May evening. There we were: writers, musicians, actors, and plenty of people who wouldn't describe themselves as any of those things, but who had helped in various ways in the making of the film, from appearing as extras to driving cast and crew to filming locations, or (as in my case) who had just come to cheer on the rest.
What is better than when your creative tribe comes together to celebrate the making of something beautiful (and extra points if it happens in a small rural county in western Indiana)? And I know the answer to that: nothing.