Beads On
A String

As each year concludes I find it essential to look back at that annual cycle and reflect upon its moments. These moments are the beads we string on the thread we call life. Each thread contains its own unique beads, beads of joy, sorrow, gain or loss. Each moment holds a lesson, a kernel of truth about the purpose and value of life, yours and mine.

How were your moments this year? How did you live your life? Were you honest with others? With yourself? Did you lie or cheat and feel good about it because you put something over on someone else? Or did you extend a truthful hand; that tiniest of actions holding the greatest strength? Did you barrel through life pushing others out of your way with the desire to fill your own trough? Did you create something solid and useful, something of beauty? Did you contribute or merely consume? Did you dare to dream or tell yourself there wasn’t time for such foolishness? The choice is always yours. Revisiting deeds and actions, successes and failures is necessary to close one chapter and begin another. It is the light that allows us to grow, the beam that illuminates our path.

“You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?" George Bernard Shaw wrote those words a long time ago, but in this dangerously cynical world, they are good words to recall. We are now entrenched in a time where winning is the only thing. Doing things because they are the right things to do, possessing conviction and character, is passé. Goodness and kindness are now looked upon as sentimental hogwash. The world has always been a better place because of those individuals who, in their daily life, set an example by being honest, courageous, kind, respectful and selfless.

It began as “Greed is good,” in the 80’s, but in the 90’s metastasized until now the credo, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” has become the accepted doctrine of our era. It is comforting to know there are those of you out there who do not bow to this false God. You are the reason I write this column.

I write about fearless people filled with infinite dreams, good honest people who possess the capacity to find joy in the simplest of things. They are confident and secure with themselves; they have no need to control, manipulate or push others around for their own benefit or gain. They have nothing to prove at the expense of others. There are givers and takers in this world; I choose to write about the givers, the contributors.

I saw someone recently. His story appeared here some time ago in a column called, “No Fanfare.” (No Fanfare Pt1) I always stop for a chat. His name is George, just George. He didn’t want his name used, “Nobody’s interested in me,” he said. I know his last name, but it’s funny, I always have to think a moment to come up with it. Just George is how he wanted it and that’s how he remains to me. It was good to see George out for a walk the other day, it means he’s doing well. He’s past 90 now. I figure a lot of people dismiss him with a glance as some old rummy, but that’s not true. George is one of the blessed people; he never owned a Range Rover or told a political lie, never had the need to. Instead he feeds stray cats and lives a simple life without want.

I saw Rod and Norma Hart on Warren Street the other day. I waved and shouted, “Merry Christmas.” I think Rod’s recounting of landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day moved me more than any other this year. (A Dream or A Nightmare) A gentle man with nothing to prove, his quiet voice contrasted the horror contained in the words. He spoke of the steady thud and ring of bullets hitting the landing craft that morning 60 years ago, said it was deafening. The image of frigid red channel water lingers in my mind. “Confusion was what it was, I never saw anything like it in my life. We had a job to do, it had to be done,” he stated simply. “Thinking back on it, it seems like a dream, or a nightmare.”

Rod Hart is a good sincere man. My conversation with him is a gift I shall not soon forget.

Jim and Kate Vasilow’s sweet dream is alive and well and that is good to see. Johnny Brodowski still runs Johnny’s Ideal Printing, and all the others, Magnus Orr, Elena Winther and Vladimir Pleshakov, Dan Rupe, Imre Vilagy, Kevin Walker, Brian Mulhall, Pat Naggiar all out there everyday, making a difference because of the quality of people they are, because of the character, passion and decency in their souls and because they dare to dream. Winning is not the only to them, fully living every moment of their lives, is. I am fortunate to know them.

We’ll talk next time From The Road.

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