A friend of mine told me this week that her family will be moving next month. It was the same day of another friend’s birthday. This friend and I rarely see each other, but each November we exchange birthday wishes and catch up on each other’s lives. That made it a good day to get the bad news. It’s hard to let someone who has been a big part of your life become a smaller part. But I’m grateful to know that we can still be friends, that we will still be friends, even if we only see each other once a year. Friendships can be stretched across time and space in amazing ways and I’m grateful for that.
This friend, the one who told me she’s moving, has taught me a lot in the time that she’s lived here. And one of those things is to say yes more often. Yes we can have people over for dinner. Yes I can watch your kids for you. Yes we will be able to help with the service project. Yes we can go to the basketball game. Yes we will go camping and to the beach and apple-picking. Yes I will come look at your train track right now. Yes yes yes. Yes. I’m grateful to be more positive and helpful and open and giving and optimistic.
But, as you know, sometimes it is really hard if not impossible to say yes. I’ve realized that as our church continues to help with the hurricane clean-up effort. I can’t spend a day gutting houses. I don’t have a lot of money to donate. I have three kids who depend on me for almost everything. But I don’t want to say no. So instead I’m finding other ways to help. Through my writing. And cooking. And time tied to the apartment. I’m grateful to have found those ways to help and to feel useful.
Finally, I’m grateful this week for this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:
“Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: ‘A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.’
But there is another basic requirement, and I can’t understand now how I forgot it at the time: that is the feeling that you are, in some way, useful. Usefulness, whatever form it may take, is the price we should pay for the air we breathe and the food we eat and the privilege of being alive. And it is its own reward, as well, for it is the beginning of happiness, just as self-pity and withdrawal from the battle are the beginning of misery.”
I think that sums things up quite nicely.