I am a fan of the pithy motivational quote. I display them on my screensaver, sprinkle them on Facebook, and even spout them in my classes occasionally.
But I know tossing them about is a mere drop in the bucket without action behind it.
So when my dear friend Liz shared an idea in our daily email exchange, it was also an opportunity to walk the talk.
Liz, a resident of Newtown and mother of four, was sickened that her mild mannered elderly neighbor and dog sitter, Gene, was being harassed and trashed by the media after taking in six children who fled from their classroom on that tragic morning.
“He is so sad, hurt and distraught,” she told me. “He’s a good man. You can always find him eating alone in the diner with egg in his beard. Guess he’s a method actor,” she added dryly.
“I’d like to cheer him up, show him people, care. I was thinking about throwing him a surprise luncheon on Monday,” she explained.
“Monday, as in two days from now Monday?” I asked.
“Do it. Count me in. I’ll help.” As I hit send I glanced over at my calendar and the growing pile of papers on my desk. I cringed thinking about my already over scheduled day on Monday. Could I reschedule my physical therapy appointment, move my guest to another show and have the radio play a rerun? Could I zoom back to Stamford in time for my other commitments?
I thought about those pithy quotes, one of my favorites a Ghandi classic “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Am I saying it or living it?
Another scrolled through my mind….”How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”
That clinched it. I picked up the phone to begin clearing the deck.
Do you nod emphatically when you read Emerson’s words “Your health is your wealth,” and then skip your trip to the gym, or abuse hour body with food?
Do you agree we should “Love thy neighbor,” and then get swept away with gossip and negative conversations about other people?
Monday afternoon was beautiful, moving and inspiring.
Truth be told I added very little to make this happen, except maybe encouragement. I received much more yesterday afternoon from Gene, the children, teachers, Liz and her family, and even the Comfort Dogs in attendance, than I could have ever given.
It’s so easy, and let’s be honest, comfortable, to hope someone takes a stand. To hope someone speaks up. To hope someone else takes action to do the right thing. Someone else.
Another favorite gem comes to mind “You become the five people you spend the most time around.” Whether it’s five or fifty, the sentiment is clear that we take on the energy of those we surround ourselves with, whether they are spreading gossip or creating goodness
I still have a long way to go, but by encountering beautiful souls like Gene and having courageous remarkable friends like Liz, on some days I am a few steps closer to being the change.