It’s now the final few hours of 2014, a year that has certainly held some incredible highs and terrible lows for our family. Some of us have just arrived, some of us have passed on, some of us have had wonderful successes, and some of us are struggling mightily as I write this. A statistician would look at this roller coaster of a year and deduce it has been ‘average’, but believe me, there has been nothing average about it.
Although there can be no doubt that life is progressing along as it should in our infinitesimally small corner of the universe, regardless of how I look at it life’s highs by themselves never do a good job of counteracting the lows. The happy times and resulting good memories only very slowly move the sad events further off into a corner. What does seem to help improve this process, though, and make it more bearable, is simply surrounding yourself with decency.
When I was young, I can recall my father using the word decent to describe people whom he felt were basically good, tried to do the right thing, and thus were worthy of his ‘seal of approval’. In contrast, a person on the opposite end of that spectrum was dubbed a ‘schmuck’, and was to be avoided at all costs. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized I’d taken his advice to heart and have tried to surround myself with decent people and tried to avoid being one of the schmucks myself. (Only my friends and family can say how well I’ve succeeded in that later goal!)
Recently I’ve tried to understand what it is about decent people, in my dad’s sense, that makes them so, and have determined they are simply people who care. They are honest, compassionate, trustworthy, and generous. They try to treat people like they would like others to treat them. They are the folks who tend to make life easier, not harder, for those around them. They are the ones that help make the lows in your life less impactful and help push those sad memories into the corners more quickly.
To all my friends, including many family members (and you know who you are!), thank you for your decency and for being part of my life.
For everyone, my wish for you for 2015 is that you find yourself surrounded by equally decent people.
Happy new year.