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A Good Resolution for Us All?

Let our New Year’s resolution be this:

We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word. — Göran Persson, former Prime Minister of Sweden

Yesterday I played basketball – really a game of H.O.R.S.E, with our 11-year-old granddaughter, Anna. Anna loves to increase motivation and focus by putting some money on the table. We each contributed 5 dollars to the pot.  Winner-takes-all sort of thing. She won and was delighted with her earnings for the day.

Later, as Anna headed toward the car, she ran into one of the homeless characters in our little berg – Wesley. Wesley lives under the bridge welcoming folks off the highway into Cashmere.  He holds up his hand to stop traffic, stands in the middle of the street, and carries on serious, sometimes nasty, animated conversations with voices inside his head.  Occasionally he wears a long, shabby gown. Anna feels for him. She handed over the 5 bucks when she saw him.

A few minutes later, I saw Wesley sitting on a bench.  I can’t say for sure how it all went down, but by the time I came to myself, Wesley and I were hugging.  I told him I cared about him, gave him twenty bucks.  Then he reached in his pocket and tried to give me back five.  Probably the same 5 dollars Anna had given to him.

When I went to bed last night listening to firecrackers celebrate the incoming year, the Wesley encounters made me smile. I guess I was noticing, acknowledging, savoring our impulses to care for each other…marveling on how goodness sometimes just pops right out without thought.

Then other images came to mind.  Debbie, a person who serves at the community meals. One night, Wesley had pulled himself together enough to come inside and sit down at one of the tables.  I watched Debbie. She bent over, connected with him, smiled, asked him if he’d like a cup of coffee…seemed as if she were serving a celebrity who had dropped into town. Tears came to my eyes.  They still do.

Later I told Debbie what I had seen her do.  She said, “I have a cousin with schizophrenia.  I know they can turn on you, but they are still human beings.”

This caring for each other reminded me of a story which happened to my husband, John.  He needed to return a camera for repair and wanted a box to send it in.  He was in his camo coat rummaging around one of the retail store dumpsters looking for a suitable box when a man stopped by and asked him if he could do with a few bucks.

When John told me that story tears glistened.  He said, “it just feels good to know that people are watching out for you.”

We are not always there for each other for various reasons.  A few weeks ago, a woman downtown spewed ire over a different homeless man, Mike, who was hanging around. Unbelievably, she started quoting some bible verse which fueled her outrage and mine.  “Call the sheriff. That’s what should be done.”

Blood rushed to my head in response. I was truly seeing red.  Then a young man, Sam, stepped up.  Imagine a tall sixteen-year-old with a smile that stretches over half of his face. “I can find a place for him.  I’ve helped him before.  I enjoy it.”  Mike and Sam were loaded up and gone in a flash.

Now here’s where it helps me to take control of my attention - to keep myself focused, not on the incensed neighbor, but on Sam, on Debbie, on Anna, on the man who wanted to give John a few bucks, on Wesley who wanted to give me money, even on the impulses for good within myself. That’s how, I tell myself, we go forward in 2024 with actionable resolve. And make it a good year for all…by being there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.

How might we notice, acknowledge, express, and savor our impulses for good and journey together to The Good Life in 2024.




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