Setting the Pace


As I drove south on Woodward Avenue at dusk one winter evening, the little boy on the car seat next to me gasped at the suddenly glamorous big-city neon view as we crossed the Fisher Freeway threshold from Midtown into downtown.

Life unfolds like a windshield view, often at freeway speed — another reason to take surface streets. (That child’s first view of the glowing Fox Theatre sign wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive from the depths of the I-75 canyon at 65 mph.)
Whatever the route, and regardless of speed, our only gear is forward. Like sharks, if we stop, we die.

Part of the appeal of holidays is that they can create the illusion of life idling blissfully in neutral. In that wonderful freeze-frame, when the electronic hum of the nation’s business is on pause, we can replay our TVO’d collection of traditions at will.

In the 12th month, past, present, and future are all guests at the table. In the waning days of the year, we play at the crossroads of old and new. We down a few cookies baked from an old family recipe and then play a few frames of Wii bowling. As we drive merrily toward Jan. 1, the words of loved ones (living and not) trail along for the ride, like balloons and cans bouncing gaily behind a “just married” sign.

Then, holidays over, it’s back to fast-forward living. Despite what we think, the good old days were hectic, too. Stephen Foster, America’s first great songwriter, referred to “life’s busy throng,” in his “Beautiful Dreamer,” a song we reference in our fashion feature. The clothes we don and the plans we make are all attempts to escape the routine and float through a dreamy evening.

In December, the most sentimental of times, our idealized vision of how things should be makes us more aware than usual of people who hover faceless at life’s edges.

On the empty nighttime avenues of our hometown, church bells seem to toll for their ears only. But those of us comfortable in our bright living rooms hear our own refrain about helping others.

Words exhorting us to pay it forward come in all forms and from all eras, including our own reminder.

From the past: Harriet Beecher Stowe, an American writer and contemporary of Stephen Foster, mused that, in the end, we shed bitter tears for deeds left undone.

And from the present: There’s simply this from a Hollywood romance movie: “I will protect you.”

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Driving Force

Letter from the Editor, January 2019

Style and the City

Letter from the Editor, November 2018

Doctor's Orders

“Detroit’s Got Soul”

Letter from the Editor, September 2018

This Time, I Really Mean It

Letter from the Editor, August 2018
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. And the 2019 Restaurant of the Year Is: Prime + Proper
    A polished ambience and masterful dishes at downtown Detroit’s Prime + Proper, reimagine the...
  2. 24 Hours With . . . Sophia Bush
    Actress, activist, and co-founder of Detroit Blows
  3. Bottoms Up
    More than 60 years after Black Bottom was razed, the Detroit region named for its rich, dark soil...
  4. Live Long and Prosper
    Ann Arbor’s Forever Labs builds a thriving business banking stem cells on the prospect of...
  5. Three Generations, One Roof
    University of Michigan Professor Natasha Pilkauskas finds one type of household is on the rise
  6. Japanese Exchange
    Adachi brings a fresh Asian-inspired menu to a Birmingham landmark
  7. Another Crack in the Ceiling
    A young, rising female activist shares the impact and inspiration of Rashida Tlaib’s historic...
  8. Smart Cookies
    More than a century ago, Juliette Gordon Low sparked a movement to inspire girls to embrace their...
  9. Pure and Simple
    Drawing inspiration from the spring bridal runways and celebrity brides alike (we’re looking at...
  10. Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles
    The mother-daughter team behind recipe development site, Crowded Kitchen, cooks up mindful dishes...