pan the on
1. A temple dedicated to all the gods.
2. The gods of a people; especially: the officially recognized gods
3. A group of illustrious or notable persons or things
Friday night, while I recovered from ILSb/ICBB at home, nursing a sunburn and blissfully out of touch with the world, I was given the great honor of being named Pantheon of Leather Woman of the Year. Given the names nominated and the list of previous years’ award winners, this has definitely caused me some cognitive dissonance. Even if we follow the third definition of pantheon, that of a group of illustrious or notable persons, I still can’t help but feel some kind of “twilight zone”-like feeling at my name being on that list. Let’s go back to Miriam Webster for a moment…
il lus tri ous
1. notably or brilliantly outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions : Eminent
a. shining brightly with light
b. clearly evident
Ok, here we find something that I think I can live with, tying me to the Pantheon…shining brightly with light. Throughout this year, I honestly feel like I have done what any other Leatherperson in my place would have done. I took the opportunities and responsibilities given to me and I did the best I could with them. Even better, I spent a lot of this year smiling and laughing and sharing the things I am passionate about with others. I was given a chance to shine by people who took a chance on me and I did my best to do so.
When I look around myself, to those who have stood by me in the shadows, supporting me while I was in the spotlight, I see so many more deserving of honors and recognition. I see people who every day make the choice to do what is right over the choice to do what is easy. I see people who stick to their own moral code even when everyone else around them disagrees. I see people who quietly do the work that gets events put on and people fed and money raised. I see slaves and boys who serve with a quiet dignity, without expectation of reward. I see Leathermen and women who don’t need their names called out or a back patch to be who they are and who don’t need a title or a label to tell them how they should behave.
And then I wonder, thinking of all of them, picturing their faces in my own mind, why, with all of them, am I honored?
Thinking like that, though, is about as useful as wondering why one person is spared hardship over another. What is useful, though, is instead focusing on what use I can be to those who weren’t honored, but still are more than worthy. I’ll admit, I’m not the best at service that fades into the background. I can continue what I’ve begun, albeit with less traveling across the country. I can continue to shine as brightly as I can in whatever corner of the world I am in. I can continue to try to focus on what positive I can bring to those around me, rather than simply joining the chorus of criticism that all too often drowns out hope.
Mostly, though…I can try to learn from those I admire and just…be, simply being me, without a title, without a label, but with a heart and a will to serve others. I see this honor as a challenge to keep learning and growing and to continue to give back to the community that has given me so much.
And I’m always up for a new challenge. 😉