My favorite book of all time is the children’s book “The Jester Has Lost His Jingle,” by David Saltzman. It is a book about laughter gone missing. The Jester and his helper Pharley, whose jobs are to create joy, are blamed for its absence, and thus banished from the kingdom. Subsequently, they go on a world-wide search to find it. And after looking high and low and meeting a cornucopia of people, they find it in the most unexpected place.
This is a children’s book written by the most special young man, who sadly passed when he was only 23. When he wrote this book, I can imagine that he knew his days here on earth were numbered. And yet, he left me, for one day, today, at least, the greatest gift I can imagine. Thank you, David and thank you David’s Mom Barbara who made this book possible.
“The Jester Has Lost His Jingle” begins with: “Our story unfolds, unfortunately, on a very unfortunate day. You see, this morning when the world awoke, no one was in any mood to joke.”
Doesn’t it resonate with yours today? First covid, then all the unrest, the crime, the news that isn’t necessarily news, but opinions, the diversity quest that might have divided us further instead of uniting us, the War in Ukraine, inflation and more covid. It seems that the only thing certain on the outside of us, is uncertainty.
I say on the outside because there is also the inside, no matter what is happening on the outside. No matter what the loveliest, most sincere person does or doesn’t. What not so nice or deeply suffering, hammer holding other does or doesn’t, we have a choice. And that is as William James said: “that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
Easier said than done, though. Because we do have this brilliant nervous system of function mixed in with obstacles. Our amygdala can get hijacked by something as trivial as green pants. And late in life and often not fully developed pre-frontal cortex, can’t restrain us from spinning in a hurricane of our unexamined life. Emotional intelligence takes effort and practice.
No matter our degrees from the most prestigious schools. Regardless of how many great books we have read. Never mind if we can differentiate Debussy from Mozart. And no difference how many countries we have visited or cultures we have experienced. And money? A great tool, but having millions or billions (inflation), we can still be rigid wearing our bitterness in our eyes and on our ragged faces. Our youth might protect us at her time, yet, when we get older, no plastic surgery nor crème de la mere can fix it. We wear our attitude on our faces and in how we listen and how we speak. Not what we say, but how.
Yet, there is hope. And there is a solution. To me, I found it at PIE 2022 in Reno. I found it despite myriad obstacles and challenges we all face daily.
I found it through our PIE captain Marcy Sparrow. PIE is all Marcy: Marcy works on every detail of the expo and the conference, for a couple years or more ahead and daily. When our JVH got sidelined, Marcy stepped in foremost with her attitude. I hear Marcy’s words now and always will: focus on the positive! We are here to serve! Positivity. Having Marcy as our Captain who is the most organized Captain ever, was a privilege. I could tend to my seminars. Marcy did it all and she was a leader and not just a manager. She trusted our capabilities. And most of all, she decided to be our own Jester and create joy. Yes, I know we needed more of us, but, have you eaten a seabass like this before? Have you danced to American PIE like this before, with your colleagues, in the purest joy? That is La Dolce Vita!
I also found my La Dolce Vita through the young people in this industry. Thank you all. You all give me hope! You accept you and thus, you are capable of accepting us. You don’t judge and you do actually ask questions, which I noticed the older folks might not do so well. You are present with others. You are eager to learn. You might have your exit strategy in place for the future, yet, I do believe you care about the work you do and hence the parking experience. And you can dance when we simply dance. When there is pure joy of being together. Each of us respecting the human beings we are. That is La Dolce Vita!
Last but not least, I have found my La Dolce Vita via my Italian colleagues: Laura Caillot of Survision and Luca Bovalino of HUB/TIBA. I suppose, I am partial to the Italians, since I am taking Italian these days. Yet, I always have memories of my days in Rome when I was a teen. I have my Prada and my Gucci. I have my cacio e pepe. And my burrata and funghi. But most of all, from these two Italians, I got full engagement, presence curiosity and acceptance. And a lesson in joy. Regardless, if you are the CEO of one of the largest groups in the world or the leader of the LPR company, see the other people and hear them as these two do. That is La Dolce Vita!
The Jester and Pharley have travelled long and far to find the missing laughter. Only to realize that laughter is not missing. It simply needs to be awakened from within in each of us.
“Laughter isn’t missing! Why, it isn’t even dead! … We’ve found where it’s been hiding. We’ve discovered where it’s been. It’s hiding inside everyone. It’s buried deep within, Laughter’s like a seedling, waiting to patiently to sprout. All it takes is just a push to make it pop right out.”
For me that “push” was seeing all of you at PIE 2022, despite your own challenges, and choosing gratitude of La Dolce Vita. Proverbs 17:22 says: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
David Saltzman, who wrote “The Jester Has Lost His Jingle,” said in his journal: “The best we can do is live life, enjoy it and know it is meant to be enjoyed – know how important and special every time … moment … person is. And at the end of the day say, ‘I have enjoyed it, I have really lived the moment.’ That is all. All is that. Is. Is, is such a powerful word. It is not was or will be. It is IS: Is is alive!”
David Saltzman while at Yale his senior year, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. He passed on March 2, 1990, 11 days before his 23rd birthday. Most likely he wrote :The Jester” with awareness that his days here on this earth were limited. Yet, by giving us the Jester, he gave children and adults alike, a gift of joy. And finding it within through the appreciation of this one Sweet Life. Viva La Dolce Vita!