Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Celebrating Seventy!

Take that, J.Lo!
I just passed another birthday involving a big, fat zero … this one with a seven in front of it. But I’m not depressed. On the contrary, I’m celebrating. Not since my fortieth birthday have I approached a new decade with a sense of dread. Once I got past the ridiculous notion that being young was the ultimate goal of life (how can that even be?),  I became grateful for the gifts that can come with growing—yes, I’ll say it—old.  

As I approached this birthday, I realized my celebratory attitude stems from gratitude—a word, I fear, that has almost become cliche since Oprah’s gratitude journal brought it to the forefront of popular thinking  several years ago. But the value of being grateful was known long before Oprah came up with the journal idea, and the fact the concept has enjoyed widespread popularity as of late doesn’t diminish its importance . 

So here are some things I’m grateful for as I begin my eighth decade:
  • I’m here! So much goes into this observation that it would take a post of its own to do it justice—and that post would be very long. For the sake of brevity, let me say I’m grateful to ancestors who passed along good genes. I’m also thankful to be living in an age and a country where knowledge, good food, and healthcare work in tandem with those genes to promote longevity. I’m aware that nothing is certain and circumstances can turn on a dime. But worrying about what might happen in the future is useless and steals joy from the present. So for today, I’m celebrating. 

  • I’m healthy! The same factors that go into longevity also contribute to a level of health that enables me to enjoy life. I certainly have my share of minor aches and pains and senior moments but nothing that keeps me from celebrating the opportunity to get out of bed each day and pursue both physical and mental tasks.

  • I’m productive! I'm grateful to have things to do that are enjoyable and worthwhile. I’m retired but that doesn’t mean I’m useless. Not working for a salary should never be confused with not working. 

  • I’m supported by family, good friends, and faith! As I wrote in my last post, I’ve been giving much thought to the idea of community and am extremely grateful to have supportive groups of people in my life. I’ll be exploring these more fully in the future, but first I had to write about this significant birthday. 😆
This post is not meant to be an opportunity to brag (although, yes, this picture might be a bit of showing off). I realize I've had very little to do with so much of what I’ve been blessed with. Rather this post is an expression of gratefulness and hopefully encouragement. No matter what age you are or what stage of life you’re in, I pray you can look around and find many things to celebrate and to be grateful for!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

My Word for 2020: Community

My friend Cheryl and I were discussing what we liked best in a book we’d read when she said, “There’s that strong sense of community.” 

And that’s when it struck me. 
To prove the point I'm making here, this a random selection of
books currently stacked on my messy desk. I've read and
thoroughly enjoyed all of them. I don't think it's a
coincidence that they all impart a strong sense of community.
After reading hundreds of books over the course of my life (and even writing a couple), I became aware that the element which most determines a book to be a personal favorite is the inclusion of a supportive community. I cannot recall a single book I've read and liked in which the protagonist's ultimate success didn't depend in some degree upon community in one form or another.

That awareness started me thinking more deeply about the value of community . . . and the nature of it. What constitutes community? What is its purpose? Does its size matter? Does it require physical proximity? Do communities remain static? Do they require absolute agreement? 

What is the nature of community?

A lot of questions, I know. And more will probably come. Maybe some can’t be answered. Since I’m not a theologian, sociologist, anthropologist, or philosopher, they definitely can’t be answered by me. But I know what I feel, and I feel strongly that community in some form is vital for humans to thrive. So I decided to make community my word for 2020.

Over the coming year, I’ll post from time to time about the communities which are most meaningful to me. I'll comment on the the things I’ve learned about community and things I’ve learned from those communities I belong to. In reflecting on them, I hope I’ll become more appreciative of their contributions to my life and I’ll become a more valuable, supportive member.

Like I said, I’m not an expert on this topic, so I’d truly welcome any ideas or insights you have or any discoveries you’ve made. Feel free to comment (even respectfully disagree) either in the space below or on Facebook. Looking forward to hearing from you now and on future posts.

Wishing You and Your Communities Joy and Prosperity in the Coming Year!