March 5, 2012


 A few days ago I had lunch with an old friend. She is devoted to her grandchildren, who are now “tweens,” and there was no hiding the pride in her voice as she boasted about their recent accomplishments. Sometimes I get bored with so much talk of grandchildren, but on that day I listened with admiration. How lucky these youngsters were to be so unquestioningly adored. I hoped they appreciated their grandmother in return, didn’t take her for granted and didn’t come to realize she was a treasure until after she was gone.

When my friend and I parted that afternoon, I headed to the park, thinking about her and her grandchildren. She’d been worried about the parochial school two of them attended. The rules were strict and the students were prohibited from many forms of personal expression, particularly in their manner of dress. My friend smiled when she told me there was nothing in the regulations pertaining to hair, and so the girls had taken to wearing braids and ponytails that were held in place with elaborate bows.   


As I walked among the shrubs and trees, many of them beginning to burst with green, pink and yellow buds, they all seemed to shout, “I exist. I am here,” I wondered why it should be thought shameful that we humans might share a similar impulse to celebrate ourselves. 

No sooner had the question popped into my head when, taking a turn along the path, my eyes fell upon a message scrawled in chalk upon a lamp post. In an adult hand was written:

          “Today I did something worthwhile.”

I’ve no idea who wrote this proclamation or what deed was being celebrated in chalk; but there it was for every passerby to see and wonder and, I hope, to celebrate. Was it hubris to declare oneself in so public a fashion?  I thought not. An honest burst of joy is what it was. “I exist.  I am here.” I’m glad I saw it and could share the moment.

          “Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.” (George Bernard Shaw)