It is New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow we start a new year, and beginnings are always a time for hope.
And for me, that hope has to start with joy. Joy is the basic energy that lets hope grow. It is the deep-down faith that there IS good in the world, and despite what my sometimes gloomy self says, Joy can be found everywhere. My mother would even say that it is our obligation to find it, and when we can, share it.
The simple pleasure of seeing birds fly or rain fall.
The happiness of feeling a connection between strangers.
Of watching kids play.
Staring at reflections.
So after this difficult, isolated year, I am choosing to go out with Joy, singing a celebratory if slightly goofy tune to carry me into 2021 on a positive note.
For thirty years as a teacher, my focus was clear: to be the best teacher I could be. Since I have been retired, I have been figuring out what comes next, what my next focus should be. Two weeks ago today our country made its decision, and we are ready to move forward. And I have decided to help.
Many of our fellow Americans have fallen prey to the notion that it is a dog-eat-dog world, that only the loud and armed have rights, that bullies win. I do not believe this. I believe in the overwhelming power of kindness to heal. The Jewish term for this is “tikkun olam,” repairing the world.
So here are my intentions.
I will help my neighbors. I will donate to food banks, help the homeless, and offer kind words to strangers.
I will help my neighborhood by shopping in local stores and businesses as much as possible, instead of sending money to the bottomless pit that is Jeff Bezos’ pocket.
I will help my neighborhood by picking up litter and encouraging others to do so. This weekend while we were our doing our ‘Sunday Service’ we ran into a little girl and her dad. In the course of our conversation, I said, “When you see trash on the ground, you think ‘Someone should clean that up.’” And her dad, without missing a beat, said, “And then you think ‘I could be someone.’” The little girl nodded seriously.
I will offer beauty instead of ugliness, forgiveness instead of anger, gratitude instead of greed. As Gandhi advised, I will be the change I want to see.
My Momma once scolded my dad for spending a whole day of a camping trip picking up trash along a mountain road. “You can’t clean up the whole world, Lowell!”
“I’m not trying to,” he said. “Just this bit.”
So I will just do this bit. Maybe you can do your bit, too?