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Marietta McCarty: What money can’t buy

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My friend and neighbor Blue O’Connell loves music, animals, nature (especially trees), and friends. A few years ago, she traded a job with money benefits for one with other kinds of perks: writing and playing music at schools, nursing homes, hospitals, parties, just about any place. She patches jobs together to make ends meet. Recently Blue bought happiness for herself and for countless others by giving a valuable possession away.

She had possessed for decades a guitar used in the early days of his career by musician Dave Matthews. It was resting un-played in her closet—should she sell it? Adapt her style of playing to use it for a tune or two? Her decision makes her increasingly giddy as a certain day in May approaches. Blue gave the guitar to the Music Resource Center in Charlottesville, Va for its upcoming auction. You can learn about this organization here: http://musicresourcecenter.org.

Here’s part of what Blue (www.blueoconnell.com) told me about her decision, holding my dog Billy in her lap as we sat on my patio:

“I’ll never forget this place in Chicago, the Margate Park Field House — like a recreation center, in the Uptown neighborhood. I took classes in drama, tap & ballet, music. I performed in variety shows and concerts. What I loved about it was that people believed in me and took an interest in me. As a child my parents were not doing well as a result of my father’s PTSD, a condition brought on by his service in the Korean War. Margate Park was home to me and hugely influential in my life. I never had to make plans socially, just went to the recreation center and took classes or played ping pong or I hung out with the cleaning lady, Pat. It was the first place I felt a sense of Belonging.

The Music Resource Center is also a positive place that gives kids adult role models who believe in them and take an interest in them. They find music, like I did in Chicago, which will be their friend for life. I can say when I was 15 and started the guitar, I found a lifelong friend—I have traveled around and connected with so many people. It allows me to be a part of things and form relationships. What I feel when I play music is like the feeling that Margate gave me. I belong, I contribute, I connect with others every day of my life now, and it brings me the greatest joy. I want to give that opportunity to others.”

Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus is a reader favorite in my books. I quote him on the topic of “Simple Pleasures” in The Philosopher’s Table: “The wise man knows better how to give than receive.” Ancient wisdom rings true.

The big day is almost here! The auction goes live May 15. You can follow the excitement at CharityBuzz.com and imagine the countless children’s lives affected by Blue’s gift. One at a time and all together, their lives forever changed by her pure generosity. The shiny black guitar is named “The Ovation Celebrity.” Ovation, absolutely.



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