by Branden Stewart
Before I left Grand Rapids to attend graduate school at Ball State back in July, I went out with my close friend (and Phired Up guest blogger) Keith for dinner downtown. We stopped by one of our favorite restaurants and enjoyed a great dinner served by a fun waitress. We reminisced about our years going to school at GVSU, reflected on our time together as active members of Delta Sigma Phi, and looked ahead to talk about the future.
As we began to walk back to the car, we heard some loud music coming from down the street. Walking toward the music was definitely out of the way from where we had parked, but for some reason we were intrigued by what could possibly be going on downtown in the middle of the week. As we turned the corner to see what was happening, we were stunned to see hundreds of people laughing, talking, and… swing dancing. Keith and I quickly made friends and asked a few people about what we were seeing. We found out that it was actually the Grand Rapids Original Swing Society.
I’ll admit that I have no idea how to swing dance, yet I was absolutely amazed by what I was seeing. Hundreds of people had gathered together around a shared purpose and were having an excellent time. They were meeting new people. They were dancing with new partners. They were stepping out of their comfort zones. They were being Socially Excellent.
One of Phired Up’s “Be the person” sayings is, “Be the person who says yes to everyday adventures.” So, of course, Keith and I looked for an opportunity to participate. At one fun point in the evening as we were looking on with awe as the music slowed down and the DJ began to play “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. Suddenly the crowd was lying on the ground, looking up at the sky, engrossed in the lyrics and surrounded by friends both new and old. Almost everyone participated, Keith and I included.
When I moved out of Grand Rapids later that weekend, I couldn’t help but think of my last night in the city I loved. I had spent countless nights at restaurants, events, comedy shows, concerts, and athletic events downtown that were planned and most times paid for. But how often did I take a moment to smell the roses, listen to my surroundings, and take a different path? Diving into this “everyday adventure” gave me a powerful memory, a fun story to tell, and deepened my friendship with Keith. This is the fun of Social Excellence.
The picture is a little blurry (I have a better phone now!), but hopefully you can tell what’s going on. This group of people barely knew each other, but had gathered around a purpose and had a blast doing it. They were demonstrating Social Excellence without even knowing it! Let’s all try to be intentional about where we go, who we meet, and how we interact with others. Let’s intentionally take a different path. Let’s learn from our swing dancing friends and be a bit more Socially Excellent. Say yes to an adventure today — you never know who you’ll meet or where it might lead.