We had a 10:30 AM meeting at The Water Institute of the Gulf.

It was a beautiful day, 80 degrees and sunny, so Tom and I walked along the levee path to get there. We were having a special event on the dock that day to thank everyone who’s been involved and supported the project.

After getting a few things arranged with my mom and the caterer, we headed back downtown to meet the family at the Capital City Grill. A quick lunch and good conversation with my Aunt Connie and Uncle Van who came in from Cut Off, my brother and his wife Anne along with their two kids Mary Beth and John William. My Aunt Dee was also there, having come in from Florida, and my second cousin Quentin who goes to LSU also joined us.

We grabbed the van from the hotel and went back to the Water Institute. Tom parked the van at the entrance, strategically. We met up with Scott Hemmerling, master of ceremonies and Director of Human Dimensions at TWIG, to confirm the order of operations for the event. Mom and Tom were welcoming people as they arrived. Things were underway.

Scott made the most memorable introduction with a quote from Herman Hesse. This is what he read:

“Siddhartha listened. He was now nothing but a listener, completely concentrated on listening, completely empty, he felt, that he had now finished learning to listen.

“Often before, he had heard all this, these many voices in the river, today it sounded new. Already, he could no longer tell the many voices apart, not the happy ones from the weeping ones, not the ones of children from those of men, they all belonged together, the lamentation of yearning and the laughter of the knowledgeable one, the scream of rage and the moaning of the dying ones, everything was one, everything was intertwined and connected, entangled a thousand times. And everything together, all voices, all goals, all yearning, all suffering, all pleasure, all that was good and evil, all of this together was the world. All of it together was the flow of events, was the music of life.”

That set the stage for further nice remarks from Sam with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, Paul from Visit Baton Rouge, and Doug with the Mississippi River Network. Everyone was enjoying the spiked Arnold Palmers and Blackberry Mojitos, not to mention the good snacks and Community Coffee and iced tea (thanks Donna Saurage!). There was a nice breeze off the river, and most anyone would say this venue was not to be missed (thanks Baton Rouge Area Foundation!)

Now was time for me to share a few stories, and I had done my best to select several that would take us all on a ride up the river. Storytelling has become my new favorite hobby, or is it a passion, or have I just not had enough time to develop it from one to the other yet? One way or the other, Mary Ann Sternberg stopped to tell me she’s not sure I’m a dancer, but I’m a darn good storyteller, and I’ll take her at that. I have been listening, like Siddhartha. And it was a good day.