March 12, 2011 10:43:00 PM
Adele Elliott - firstname.lastname@example.org
Last weekend was a wild one in Columbus. We celebrated Mardi Gras downtown, turning Main and Fifth Streets into a mini French Quarter, with bands and artists and horse-drawn carriages. Saturday night, the Kudzu Social Aid and Pleasure Club took to the streets, with a costumed procession fashioned after the walking krewes of New Orleans.
We may be quite a bit tamer that the original versions. And the weather did not cooperate. But even the rain could not drown the enthusiasm of the revelers who danced to a merry beat.
What a difference a few days make. In the Carnival cities of New Orleans, Venice and Rio, the party ended at midnight on Fat Tuesday. Drinks were abandoned, costumes put away, and the streets washed clean.
Like Cinderella when the magic dissolves, Mardi Gras royalty must remove their rhinestone tiaras, lay down their scepters and become commoners again.
New Orleans police, mounted on horseback, lead another sort of parade, one of thunderous, monster street scrubbers. Their revolving brushes spew water in a futile attempt to cleanse the grimy sidewalks and gutters. All the party people are dispersed. This is the beginning of Lent.
Life is full of those sorts of balances. The revelry must give way to more somber times. The six weeks of Lent are a time to make sacrifices. Some people give up things they love, like candy or coffee. My husband says he gives up Catholicism. But that''s a joke.
In New Orleans, I belonged to an inter-denominational church. We were instructed to give up negative thoughts. That was a relief for chocoholics, like me. Still, rather difficult to do.
Negative thoughts are deeply embedded in our minds, almost impossible to destroy. They have weed-like roots. Eradicating them would be like killing thistles. However, we try.
It''s bad enough that we can be critical of others. I tend to be hardest on myself. The first words that fall from my lips are often "I''m so dumb"... or "clumsy" ... or "messy." It seems that I see myself as flawed merchandise, imperfect in many ways.
This self-disparagement is primarily a feminine matter. Men tend to love themselves, almost unconditionally. I have no idea why that is. This is one time when I agree with Professor Henry Higgins, when he sang, "Why can''t a woman be more like a man?"
So, I think this Lent may be the time to renounce negativity, especially about ourselves. Apparently, it is easier to think kindly about others.
I wish I could say that I will enjoy six weeks of rest and quiet. As it turns out, during this Lent we will welcome thousands of visitors to Spring Pilgrimage and attend many celebrations in honor of Tennessee Williams'' 100th birthday. It appears that relaxing is out of the question.
I suppose I''ll be forced to eat lots of chocolate to give me energy. And I''ll waste none of my caffeine-induced vivacity on self-criticism and condemnation. Negative thoughts will not be acceptable during this time. Let''s hope that attitude is still with me after Easter.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.