This blog entry is emotional for me. It is a tribute to a member of the church community I grew up in. I have many ties to his family, but my relationship with him was only minimal due to a number of factors. However, his small contribution to my life can't be truly put in words. I made an effort in my latest column in the Kings County Record. I have posted that column here and I hope the family and friends of Harold see this as a fitting acknowledgement of how he contributed to our community.
Life is made up of many small contributions. Life is a mix of random encounters, puzzling experiences, and surreal situations. In one moment it all comes together and can be understood and in the next you're left crying and confused. All of these contribute to make us who we are and shape how we deal with the next situation.
This past week I was reminded of small contributors in my life when I heard of the passing of an elderly acquaintance of mine. I use the term "acquaintance" purposely, as I did not know him well, but he helped frame my life to this point. Since I started writing this column he would often stop me in the mall or at church functions and tell me of a spot I should wander.
Harold Arnold liked to stop me and tell stories and I would often listen as he had lots of tidbits on the back country around Parlee Brook where I like to venture. I remember he had a firm handshake and his large mitts reminded me of an old fashion ball glove and to me his mustache and glasses made him the epitome of an old fashioned man's man. Though limited my meetings and conversations with Harold heavily influenced me and I hope to continue to explore the Parlee Brook area and make it to the falls he often described to me. Maybe someday I will be the epitome for a young man's "man's man"
The manner in which I remember Harold left me thinking about how I might be contributing to this community; how we can all make small contributions to better ourselves and our community. Picking up litter, or better yet, not throwing out litter is one small but very visible way we can all make a difference in our community. I challenge you to pick up the next piece of litter you see on the ground and properly dispose of it. It will make you feel better about yourself and our community and it is a small act.
Another small contribution many of us already likely make is to charities. We buy a coffee and place our change in a donation box. That small change adds up when so many people buy coffee. It is a small contribution but it will feel good. Oddly, the donation may perk you up more so than the coffee and it goes to help someone else so it's like getting two coffees for the price of one.
Something else that I took away from Harold is time. He made a point of talking to me and I found it rewarding. On the other hand, I took time to listen, and perhaps we each contributed to one another's day. It is a small thing to take the time to talk and listen to someone, even someone you don't know that well. In the end you might make a new friend or at the very least contribute to their life in some small way. The interaction also strengthens the community in which you live by removing barriers and showing others you are receptive to meeting new people.