Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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Most of our readership knows me for my writings, but I, myself, do not view myself as such. I consider myself a professional ‘people watcher’. There’s so much that goes on around us, and life gets so busy, that most folks don’t have time to stop and watch, appreciate, or learn, from what others do. That’s where I’m fortunate to be able to carve myself a little niche. I look for the hidden lessons, the profound, and the small acts of kindness, that otherwise would go unnoticed. And that, folks, is when I take pen to paper.
For the most part, it’s really not that hard to do what I do. Perhaps, because I’ve been doing it so long, it comes easier to me than most. But, as easy as it comes most times, I, like every other writer, still experience the dreaded writer’s block. Writer’s block is when you can’t find a topic to write about, or if you have a topic, you don’t know how to approach or write about it. It’s quite frustrating, but I have a couple of secret weapons.
When I get writer’s block, I like to go and sit in the lobby of senior homes. I usually don’t have to wait long before one of the residents will come and sit by me. These folks are absolute gold to a guy like me. They have insight, knowledge, wisdom, stories, and history that you won’t find in any history book. And they are always happy to share. I often leave thinking to myself, “How is it that others haven’t tapped into this fortune of life experience?” Aside from holidays, birthdays, and special occasions, many of them don’t see much of their families anymore. Not because their families don’t love them, but because life is busy and time is a commodity no longer found plentiful in today’s world. But still, I think to myself, “Why wouldn’t you try to make time for something so valuable?”
Now, the second thing I like to do is visit antique shops. It always amazes me how I inevitably come across something that I once had access to or owned, that now holds an asking price fifty times its original value. A comic book I once owned for ten cents is now worth hundreds of dollars. Or a lamp I once read by that could be purchased for ten bucks when I was young, now sells for hundreds. Why do we value an antique desk at thousands of dollars when we can go and purchase a brand new one at a tenth of the price at Home Hardware or Canadian Tire? I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not the item itself that gives value, it’s the memories. The nostalgia and the stories associated with those antiques define their value to the purchaser. The same inspiration and memories I seek for writings, is the same thing people value when they purchase these antiques.
So, here’s where I find myself struggling, folks. When I challenge myself to face reality, do I make as much time as I should to take advantage of the company of loved ones in their senior years? If I value an antique rocking chair at thousands of dollars because of the memories associated with it, like being held by my grandmother, how much would I value the opportunity to spend an hour with her? Tens of thousands? The fact that she’s passed on, perhaps even millions of dollars? If I value a comic book at hundreds of dollars because I remember reading them with an uncle, what should I value an opportunity to spend time with him? Five hundred dollars per hour? Maybe thousands?
I think we need to reassess what we value, folks. Because if we don’t realize the value of loved ones while they are with us, we will find ourselves aimlessly searching for something we once had. And just as we kick ourselves for throwing away that comic book when we were young, only to realize it’s value decades later, we will kick ourselves for throwing away something that can’t be replaced at any cost… time with loved ones.