Mind Matters ó Gratitude and Pass It On

Ever wonder how your life would have been different if you hadnít made certain choices? What opportunities did you take or not take? Did you move away from family or never move beyond your neighborhood?

Iíve been mulling these questions over myselfósort of my post-Christmas/post-Holiday card reflection time of year. Old Christmas photo-cards of friends and family get unearthed with tangled Christmas lights. I wonder about the people with whom Iíve lost contact. How are they now? Where are they now? Admittedly, I have never been an organized holiday card sender. For fifty years I have wanted to have a tidy list of names and addresses along with a neat stack of cards to mail, pre-emptive of receiving the first card. That will never happen. Itís more likely that I will post a response to cards I do get in July.

No matter when or whether I send out cards, I do think about all the people in my life and wonder how they areóthe friends, families, clients. Perhaps it is different when youíve never moved very far from where you were born. Maybe then there is less questioning. I donít know.

I did not stay rooted in my hometown. For forty-four years my spouse and I lived in both the western and eastern ends of Pennsylvania. Now we are in Massachusetts, ironically back in the state where we began our lives together. All along our route we met friends and neighbors who were important to us, who helped us and, hopefully, whom we helped.

Where would be without the other wayfarers who find us on this journey we call life? What I remember is the kindness and generosity of my neighbors and friends, no matter where we lived. One example is our frantic call at one in the morning for our neighbor to babysit our sleeping toddler daughter on Christmas because we were rushing to the pediatrician with our infant son, breathless with croup.

There are so many people in my past that I would love to see and say thank you, to hear about what they are doing and how life is for them. Maybe the only way I can show my gratitude for many of them now is to simply pay it forward, to pass on to the present and the future the kindnesses from the past. Is that how the circle is unbroken?