We all know the Gandhi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I was thinking about it yesterday on the plane ride home from my sister’s birthday celebration, altering it in my mind to “be the person I want to have in the world.”
My sister is one of those people. She is loving and kind, loyal and passionate, fun and energetic, smart and accepting. That’s part of why people traveled from far and wide to come celebrate with her. My brother and I were there, part of her life before she was born. Her Fusy was there, her best friend since Fusy was born. A best friend from elementary school. The friend she moved to Florida with years ago. Her go-to Florida BFF for the past fifteen years. And a slew of newer additions to her tribe—teacher friends, kid friends. And my son, who spent the weekend with a bunch of middle aged people because his aunt invited him and he loves her.
My sister puts out an energy that draws people to her. She is there for people when they need her. And they in turn showed up for her. Both because this is a particular moment in time when she needs them, and because she is fun to hang out with anytime. Also, she is not the type to normally like a lot of care and attention, so when she accepts it, we all want to pour it on.
Which brings me to the point of this blog…being a person I would like to see more of in this world. My sister inspires me, as you can hopefully already tell, but this group of her people magnified that.
First of all, they are fun! Fourteen of us went out to dinner on Saturday night, and although I only knew about half of the group, I didn’t care who I sat next to because I was certain that any one of them would be fun and engaging and great to be with. And I was right! We then went to the grossest dive bar I’ve been to since college—sticky floor, smoke-filled, sketchy clientele—to sing karaoke for hours. Almost everyone sang, some of us terribly, some with a good deal of alcohol and some with no liquid courage required. Cheers to more fun and singing in the world!
Next inspiration, this group was up for anything. My sister wanted to go to the beach, even though it was a cold Florida day, so we all went to the beach. She wanted karaoke, we sang. Dancing at 1am? Sure! Sleeping in a room with people you just met five minutes ago? No problem. Spontaneity and reasonable risk taking are vital, and many of us could benefit from less anxious over-thinking.
A number of these people have had really tough years. Family crisis, deaths, divorces, serious kid struggles. People have let them down big time, and they could have been too angry and sad to show up for a celebration, too guarded to open up and engage with new people. But this group has not been defeated. They shared healthy expressions of anger and sadness, but no dark wallowing. They were taking this moment to celebrate and look ahead, to share vulnerably with strangers and friends, to risk and connect. That’s difficult to do when life throws crap at you all year, but here they were…hopeful and resilient…doing their best to not just survive, but to thrive.
This felt like a group of people committed to hope and love, trust and mutual support. I didn’t know their politics and didn’t care. I didn’t know how much money they made or what kind of car they drove or if/where they went to college, and I didn’t care. They were fun, they were open, they are caring, and that’s all that mattered.
We can choose to move through the world in this way—with kindness, love, hope—with fun, singing and dancing—with family and friends, new and old. Oh, what a wonderful world we can make!