By Mack Lena
I always wanted to be gray. As a dark-haired youth at Queens College in the mid 1960s, I associated gray with my most influential teachers. And they all seemed to be unconventional, caring, witty, and above all wise…everything I aspired to be.
One of these wise “guys”—Prof Robert Miller I think it was—introduced me to the scholarly clerk in the Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, whose Middle English motto was to become my defining philosophy of life:
Gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly wolde he teche.
Prof Miller helped me gain entrée to his alma mater, Princeton University in 1967 where I absorbed myself in gray-haired literary classics like Beowulf, the Divine Comedy, and Paradise Lost—while at the same time becoming a dark-haired anti-war, anti-racist activist. I continued my literary studies at Columbia under another gray-haired mentor, Prof Edward Tayler, earning my Master of Philosophy in Renaissance Culture in 1974.
During my academic career in the 70s and 80s, my hair actually did start developing a salt & pepper look. As I pursued a Pharmaceutical Advertising writing career through the 90s, the salt began to dominate the pepper. Now that I’m a senior freelancer, the pepper has disappeared and I’ve finally reached my goal of being gray!
Just in time to join Gray Matters…a great group of senior professionals whose raison d’etre matches mine perfectly. Gray Matters is dedicated to serving New York’s non-profit community, pro bono. We offer professional expertise freely to organizations who can benefit from our real-world know-how in finance, real estate, law, public relations, government, architecture, and — in my own specialty — education.
I first came to know Gray Matters a few years back, when an old Princeton pal of mine called and asked me to join him in speaking before a motivated group of minority high schoolers about professional writing at a College Prep Program called Legal Outreach not far from my home in Queens.
The kids in my advertising copywriting workshop absolutely floored me with their focus, enthusiasm, and active intelligence. They came up with copy choices that were easily equal to mine. I was hooked on helping them out from that Saturday morning on.
That’s also when I knew I had to hook up officially with Gray Matters –whose connection with Legal Outreach was crucial to expanding life’s possibilities for these deserving students. From the get-go, Gray Matters and Legal Outreach was a partnership worth pursuing, because, for me, it’s always been about learning by doing and gaining by giving.
So thanks to being involved with both groups, this now totally gray professional is able to stay true to his intellectual and humanistic instincts.
Imagine what connecting with Gray Matters can do for you personally and for your organization professionally!