As I assessed a large number of life events this morning, I recognized that good times were mostly supported by wonderful organizations and people, the positivity we experience is not happenstance, but instead the result of dedicated service and care amongst people.
As a child I was surrounded by multiple good agencies including my church, school, family, YMCA, and neighborhood--each of those groups of people supported me well by providing me with a home, good education, caring neighbors, and multiple organized events that brought people together to foster the best of who we could be in wonderful places mostly near my home.
What mattered most with regard to this positivity was not glamorous, but instead consistent and caring. Family looked out for each other helping one another when we could. There were many events of shared celebration and support, events that included good food, camaraderie, stories, and fun and games. At school, parents, teachers, and children gathered time and again to learn and enjoy special events. The YMCA offered wonderful after school and weekend classes and family events. Our church was a cornerstone of our neighborhood offering weekly services and many social events that brought people together, and our neighborhood in general was filled with adults who took an interest in everyone by sharing their gifts and talents including teaching piano and gymnastics and welcoming children for hours of play. As I've written about before, the strength of our neighborhood finds people still connecting and supporting one another decades later.
Life today for most people has stretched out from the small neighborhood we grew up in. Instead most people I know have families that live in multiple communities, states, and even countries. As the world becomes more interdependent, people travel more and live further from one another. This presents a bit different kind of support network--one that takes a new lens as to how we'll stay close and supportive of one another.
Of course communication has never been easier or better. Smart phones and computers can bring us into each other's homes in an instant. Transportation is quite good too making it possible to travel long distances to see a loved one without too much trouble. Sometimes this distance may prevent some of the at-home, neighborhood strength since people are sometimes not as committed to what's close by since they are on the move so much, but in general, I believe that most people invest in their communities as well in the distances needed to stay close to loved ones.
As I think of all of this, what seems to stand out the most is our need to be present and available to support one another in ways that matter. The ways people do this will vary greatly including their good work, volunteering, and sharing of gifts and talents. As an educator this is a regular part of my life since every day is filled with connection, caring, and support for me and from me. As a parent of young children this was also a constant since I was consistently involved in my children's interests and activities. I know that as time moves forward, I'll likely invest more in the greater community in ways that continue this two-way support network--supports for me and from me.
Good living depends on contribution and care for and from self to and from others. We have to continually audit our lives to notice what we do that matters and what we do that doesn't matter or worse that may be negative to our lives and others.
What supports do you have in place? What supports do you provide? How can we use this support-lens to assess and better the places where we live, work, and recreate? There's lots to think about in our ever changing world.