This is the lesson that I learned after reading the book "Middlesex," by Jeffrey Eugenides. This Pulitzer Prize-winner traces the lives of three generations of the Stephanides family, starting in a tiny village in Asia Minor, and ending in a suburb of Detroit. It really is a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.
What fascinates me most about the book is that it is completely true. Although "reality TV" has managed to warp and distort our perspective of everyday lives in the pursuit of higher ratings, this novel is successful in preserving the authenticity of both the narrator and the story. Each generation shares its own adventures, complete with trials and tribulations, successes and mishaps, and even a few skeletons in the closet. But the beauty of it all is that no one had any idea that they were living a real-life adventure. Bootlegging and running a speakeasy during Prohibition, surviving the 1967 Detroit race riots, or even hitch-hiking across the country -- all events that the outside observer would consider to be life altering experiences, yet to those living them, was just another part of their existence. To the Stephanides, it was merely life. We drum corps members live a real-life adventure every summer. It has all the trappings of a classic adventure movie: Excitement, drama, action, the "villain," the "hero," and even a little romance to boot. Tour is absolutely a life-altering experience, and something special that sets us apart from the rest. But that's not what we're thinking about while we're gone all summer. We're busy trying to march and play (or spin) the perfect show. Our time is occupied by rehearsal blocks, show days, and, of course, bus rides. The prominent thought on most of our minds is usually what the food truck will be serving for dinner. Our perspective is narrowed to the daily existence of life on tour. However, it's not until we are done with the summer and away from the corps that we can really sit back and reflect on everything that just happened. Once we are removed from the situation, our perspective widens to allow us to see just how life-changing this experience really was. Without basics or ensemble to busy our minds, we can really understand that what we just did was one heck of an adventure. Perspective changes everything. But that's why it's so important. Changing perspectives helps us to string together individual actions into one coherent memory. It is thanks to perspectives that we can survive a summer without a mental melt-down, yet still be able to look back and realize just how exciting and life altering those three short months were. We, like the Stephanides, are everyday heroes. We write our own chapters by living life as we know it to be. This is who we are, and this is what we do. Every day is a real-life adventure -- we just don't always realize it. Lanah Kopplin is a third-year euphonium player in the Phantom Regiment, and previously spent a year with the Pioneer. Lanah recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin (she's a Milwaukee native) with a political science degree, and will age out in 2005. Past columns by Lanah Kopplin: Keep on trying What a weekend! More than a souvenir Class and competition Learning and understanding the past The College degree Like spring training Finding a drum corps home The Last audition Turkey-induced tryptophan Rhapsody in the chat room Amazing grace Are you ready? Get out there and vote Reflections from Whitewater Methodical hard work and passion Here's to the behind-the-scenes people Drum corps friendships A new column by the Phantom Regiment's Lanah Kopplin