Find A Reason

There are all sorts of sayings and clichés about fighting through adversity, dealing with challenges, and the subsequent benefits that await once you come out the other side. 

I know.  I’ve used them.  Mom used to say, “everything happens for a reason” and I would roll my eyes as kids tend to do when parents impart their particular brand of wisdom.

Depending on the situation, however, in the moment, it’s hard to find the reason.  I mention this, not because there are difficulties, but to share a little message of optimism and hope as we move into spring…the season of new beginnings.

Recently, a close friend of mine passed away unexpectedly.  Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “That’s optimism?  Why are you bringing me down?”.  I promise that’s not my intent so hang in there.

See, I was asked to give a eulogy, something I had never done, and the bizarre thing was that just a couple weeks prior, my friend was talking about how he believed there was a reason for everything.  So, as I prepared my remarks, I looked for a reason for such an unfair loss.

What came to me was maybe less a reason and more a lesson on the significance of life; what we had and what remained rather than what was lost.  It said to me that when grief is so deeply felt, it’s actually a testament to life and is the result of the profound impact one person can have however long or short the time may be.

In recognizing this and thinking about how one moves forward, I realized how important it is not waste the time we have together and never take for granted those we hold most dear.

“One moment can change a day, one day can change a life, and one life can change the world.”  However, you want to measure it, we can all be that one life that changes our world for the better.

There Must Be Manure to Life

Travel though the farmlands and you will no doubt encounter that unmistakable aroma which inevitably leads to the comment, “Was that you?” from some joker in the car. 

Yes, as spring approaches, crops are planted, and flower beds prepped, there will be lots of natures’ fertilizer in use.  At this time of year, I recall one of my first jobs working in the Sears Garden Center, loading bags and bags of peat moss, topsoil and yes, lovely grade A cow manure into people’s cars and trucks.  Sure, there was the occasional busted bag that found its way onto, and into, my clothes…or face, but hey, I was working outside in the sunshine and the physical labor got me into probably the best shape of my life.

And that’s the thing, manure will happen, life is going to dump it on you when you least expect it and in quantities you may think you can’t carry.  But remember, like the manure used in the fields to fertilize and help grow abundant crops and beautiful flowers to feed and nurture us body and soul, the kind life can dole out can also help us grow as individuals.  It’s part of life that not everything is clean and neat and sweet smelling.  Things can go sideways sometimes, you just have to believe in, and look for, what positives can come from them; how it will help you grow into a stronger, more beautiful being.  The same is true for life at Freedom.

When the economy fluctuates, when pandemics arise, when systems falter or we as humans simply make mistakes, it’s how we react, how we learn, how we adapt and improve, that makes us stronger, keeps us moving forwarding and growing to better serve our members, each other, and our community.  There are all sorts of clichés; “anything worth having is worth fighting for”, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, “everything happens for a reason”, and so on.  These may have some truth to them, but they can also be meaningless in the moment.

All I can say, from experience, is giving up doesn’t work.  Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away or resolve it.  Instead, I say, take that manure, spread it on the field, and let something wonderful grow.

Be Here Now

When asked how many children he thought he had influenced, Mr. Rogers said, “I don’t care how many, even if it’s just one.

We get so wrapped up in numbers in our society. The most important thing is that we are able to be one-to-one, you and I with each other at the moment. If we can be present to the moment with the person that we happen to be with, that’s what’s important.”

I mention this because of the similarity I feel between those words and our lives at Freedom.  The ability to be present in the moment applies not just with our members, but with each other.

Work gets busy, lives get chaotic, things happen unexpectedly, so it’s so important that we are aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment.

The biggest gift we can each give ourselves is the gift of being present — engaged with life, connected with each other, listening with kindness, staying open-minded, free from judgment.