I am Five

Each morning this week, my alarm has gone off at the usual time and I’ve hit the snooze button, over and over and over. This week has been exhausting, living in this movie. I had a writing project to deliver and it took a lot out of me; there’s probably not enough coffee in my cup to “bring the energy” to The Big Corporation today. I hope my phone doesn’t ring early and often.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Boston. I’m a member of the Junior League of Boston and our headquarters are located at 117 Newbury Street, between Clarendon and Dartmouth Streets. All the cross streets along Newbury Street are in alphabetical order and that helps me stay focused when I’m on a Junior League mission. One of my Boston friends taught me about the alphabetical streets because apparently, after a few years of driving and walking in Boston, I still hadn’t noticed the arrangement of Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, and Hereford streets.

When I’m on foot in that neighborhood, I stick to the cross streets surrounding Junior League headquarters. If I arrive in the city early for a meeting, I might grab a bite to eat at Atlantic Fish, but I generally don’t stray from my normal walking routines.

At one time, I thought about moving to Boston. I like many things about this place and I have some good friends there. I care a lot about them. They’ve been in my thoughts all week.

I never moved there, though, because Boston’s not my home.

All week long, I’ve kept my thoughts about violence to myself. I’ve thought about ways I could help people who might need help. I haven’t been able to reach any conclusions, so I’ve just gone through the usual motions of the week, working and writing and tending my tomato seedlings. Yesterday, I got a note from Reggie Black and it moved me. I’m sharing it here, just as its author wrote it; there are a few bits of profanity.

I’ve volunteered in my son’s kindergarten class most of the year, and it’s been a great time. I was there yesterday, walking down the hallway listening to the morning announcements. I heard something about a fire and donations for the family.

So I go to the classroom and I’m sitting there not even thinking about it. At the beginning of reading time, the teacher brings up one of the kids in the class. Well, it’s the kid who just lost everything in the fire over the weekend. You could tell the kid wasn’t in the highest of spirits.

The teacher’s explaining to the class that the important thing was that nobody was hurt. She’s doing exactly what she should do because the kids have questions, you know?

“Did you lose your clothes?” “Did you lose your toys?”

He starts talking about how one of his cats ran off because it was scared of the fire, and his two dogs are now in heaven. And it’s just killing this kid to sit up there and talk about it.

All of a sudden these little kids start saying things like, “You can have some of my clothes” and “you can have my dog” and “you can stay at my house.” Every single kid in this class is willing to give this kid their toys. He looks up and says that everything’s fine and he has everything he needs right in front of him.

I had to get up and fucking walk out of the room.

All these kids know the most important things in life are friends and family. And I’m standing in the hallway and it just dawns on me. Where did we get so fucked up? Because we’re really starting off okay.

It was one of the most inspiring moments I’ve had in my entire life, seeing the strength and resolve of a five-year-old kid.

Thanks, Reggie. I really needed that yesterday. I need it today and I’ll need it tomorrow and I’ll surely need it in the weeks and months and years I may have to live in this world.

Today, at The Big Corporation, we’ve been encouraged to wear any Boston paraphernalia we might have. I don’t have much; I have a tee-shirt from a sales conference at The Big Corporation Up The Road and a Red Sox tee-shirt. It’s a Nomar Garciaparra shirt, from way back. He was number five. I’m not going to wear it because it’s just not “me” but I’m going to bring in my spirit of being five today.

Turn off your Tee Vee and your Twitter feed and be “Five” today, like you might have done “way back” when you were really five.


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3 Responses to I am Five

  1. RB says:

    I didn’t author that. It comes from an E-book on powerlifting titled “The Vault” written by a man called Dave Tate. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, 50% of powerlifting is 90% mental–it takes an incredible amount of psychic focus to pull 900 pounds of iron off of the floor. Tate’s book is partly about technique and training, but mostly about mentally filtering out the distractions and sticking to the essentials, and that means the essentials in all of life.

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks, RB! Carry on!

      April 21, 2013
      I’ve been thinking about this post over the weekend. I think what I liked about the story of the children giving from their hearts is that it demonstrates the simple power of voluntary action. It also speaks to problem solving on a local and micro level, versus the Byzantine and convoluted nature of the macro level.

  2. gwynsmum says:

    Amen to RB for that excerpt. I have asked myself the SAME question several times this week.

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