We now have reached, to the surprise of some of us, the end of 2014, and we prepare to ‘graduate’ into the New Year. It has been a difficult, even painful, year for many, and there are as many opinions about why as there are people. Many will blame the economy, but in my view the economy is a reflection for something worse. The answer is simpler than the economy. It’s the human heart.
The greatest injuries one person can commit against another stem from indifference, insincerity, and neglect. An imbalance of passions stirs indignation, but also fear and unrest. 2014 witnessed profound injuries that were the result of these qualities in others. Some applied no restraint in using, or neglecting, other people (usually people for whom speaking up was difficult and unlikely). Others exercised freedoms guaranteed by law that would have been better exorcised, given their effect. What was most profound to me personally was this: a single word not spoken was more devastating than an epithet spat out in anger.
For me, there were positive events in 2014 that I am eager to share. One man told me I could share confidences about anything, and never failed his commitment. Another man refused to allow a meeting between us to conclude until he was sure he had done something good for me. Three women from different parts of the world (all of them hundreds of miles away) gave me substantial support at considerable inconvenience to themselves because I needed help. One professional spent hours helping me with my final project of the year even though it netting him nothing, while another lent his expertise to promoting my work. A renowned musician I know only through social media contacted me with ideas and support to increase my public exposure. I received all of this from people who were sincere, caring and attentive.
The answer was given to me by my neighbour’s ten-year-old daughter in one of the most moving revelations of 2014. Early in December, I attended her school choir’s Christmas concert. My little friend sang a lovely solo. In the last measures of the final concert piece, with animation and great élan, she dropped to one knee with her arms flung open. While the audience applauded the children, the girl standing behind her leant down and lifted her to her feet. I asked about this later, and my ten-year-old friend looked at me with a quizzical expression. ‘She lifted me up because she’s my friend,’ she said. ‘It’s what friends do.’
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