I love to read things that teach me how to live a better life. That's why I enjoy Dr. Robert L. Heichberger's columns and Daniel O'Rourke's columns. I hope readers get as much out of my columns as I do out of theirs.
I saved Dr. Heichberger's March 18 column because he talked about what makes America great - the people! How true! It takes all kinds of people to do a lot of different things. The educators are doing their jobs by teaching us and our children. But the biggest contribution is the caring people, no matter their age. Have you ever marveled at the large groups of all ages in the public schools, or the SUNY students who are involved in projects that make our society what it is? There are three college boys living across the hall from me. They take care of my garbage and recyclables and always assure me that if I need anything, I only have to ask. It gives them joy to help me. I'm so glad I can brag about them! I hope it helps make up in part for the bad-mouthing college students get in general. This experiment goes hand-in-hand with the assessment of people.
Fortunately, anyone can make an impact by doing good deeds. You don't have to study for it, you don't have to be tall or husky. All you need is a big smile, an open mouth and an open heart.
I'm re-reading Daniel O'Rourke's book, "The Spirit at Your Back." We really agree on a lot of things, but I don't have his eloquence. Maybe I can fill the gap, though. We certainly agree on the joy of living and of giving. I have no idea what his growing up was like, but I can guess. I think there were several children, a loving mother and a hard-working father. I'm sure he grew up with a lot of praise which motivated him to accomplish even more.
I'm judging by my own family, because we both care so much about people. We also want to motivate people to bring out the best in themselves, and in doing so they will bring out the best in others. Let's learn to use our own talents to the fullest. When I say "talents," I mean our ability to help others.
I want to share some thoughts with you. I often tell friends, "If you have material things and can't let go of them, then you don't own them, they own you." Now it's the same with your thoughts. If you can't let go of the anger and bitterness in your mind - all the negatives - then you will never let forgiveness in. Open your mind to the positives in the world and open your heart. All the good things will follow. You not only will have peace, joy, gladness and more friends, but above all, more love. The more you give, the more you get. It's as sure as what goes up must come down.
Now what if the three of us started writing columns on motivating people to live by these principles? What changes would we see in our communities? Who knows how far-reaching this can be? Can we change the world? Well, no, but we can change the lives of people around us. Even one life is a biggie. Ask yourself, "Would that life have changed by itself?" Doing nothing does nothing. I believe in doing. I'm not afraid of criticism. We're all entitled to our own opinions.
I used to belong to a non-denominational prayer group at Brooks Hospital. I loved it. We prayed with patients who wanted prayer after visiting hours. We even sang and danced. Once in a while patients were very sick and wanted to talk about spiritual things. If they asked, we agreed. Some of that was very rewarding because they found peace.
Unfortunately hospitals are filled with sick people. I got sick and had to give it up. I just hope that now, my column comforts my readers.
Note: I heard after writing this column that Daniel O'Rourke gave up his column but will be writing occasionally. We sure enjoy his thoughts.
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Comments on this column may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org