I’m almost eighty-four. In February, the most astonishing experience of an up-and-down existence occurred. I had a stroke. Watching Dick Clark on the Emmy’s, I realized that he, too, was “recovering.”
Dick Clark to me was only a T.V. appearance, counting down New Year’s Eve, as New York’s shining, shimmering ball dropped. We all counted with him, wherever we were at the time.
I was not among the dancing couples on his “American Band Stand” I was in Nowheres-ville. I watched a couple of times at the swinging, happy couples on the screen. Not a world I could ever get into.
My “reality?” Wondering what to do with myself. Too young for any thought of “the hereafter.” Too young for depression. Depression? What was that!?
My reality today tells me there are conflicting opinions on everything, including strokes. Said one M.D., “Once a stroke has occurred, the portion of the brain that has died will never recover.” It’s hard for me to believe in “never.” So we keep trying, Dick Clark and I.
On to what I consider really important: Children. Our beautiful young strong minds. The world of tomorrow can become a fine world if these strong, young minds are given sufficient guidance.
Education alone does not do it. Wasn’t I frequently called “the smartest kid in school?” Bringing home the best grades? Bringing home prizes for whatever contest I could attend?
So if not education, what then? Mentors. They provide a giant step forward. Big Sisters, Big Brothers, summer camps, countless other charities — great! For any fault which a serious investigative reporter might reveal, the fact remains they do a fantastic amount of good, for the most part.
What, then? Contributions. What about “individual-to-individual” contributions? Not for the short haul. I’m talking about longtime commitments. I’m talking about individuals — say, over forty. Say your family is able to function on its own. Say you’ve given whatever your finances allow to charitable institutions.
Have you given of yourself? You’re wise enough to know you have something to contribute, other than money.
What say you to a one-to-one relationship with a child, maybe in first or second grade — carrying that same relationship with that one child at least through high school graduation, maybe longer?
I venture to say that your life would be enriched. More than that, your new friend’s life would also be enriched.
I believe mine would have gone an entirely different course had there been “someone” to talk with, to give my activities direction, to help me establish goals… some one person “there” at every critical event in my young life. My own hardworking, immigrant parents of seven could not. Friends? Nonexistent.
I honestly do believe that “individual-to-individual” longtime relationships would bring results: (A) Fewer overweight or underweight individuals. Good-bye to American obesity! (B) Much less need for psychiatrists. Nothing beats opening your heart to a proven friend. (C) A greater respect for humanity.
New Year’s Eve (counting, now): … …”4, 3, 2, 1 — Happy New Year, everyone!”
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.