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Helping others has magical effects

It’s 2015! Back in mid-December I wrote my article so I could meet my deadline early. It was perfect! It had just the right number of words to meet my editor’s request. It was iconic, yet witty. It was all about the overhype of setting goals. After all, I am 64 and goals are for young folks, right?

In my mid-December column I expounded “to set a goal one must be dissatisfied with one’s current situation, right? Maybe, maybe not. I am fair-to-middlin’ content with my life. I know I can improve with interpersonal relationships, learn more about being a better writer, or cook healthier food. I guess I could set some goals for any or all of those aspects of my life, but at 64 years old, how dedicated am I to change? Idealistically — absolutely! Realistically — more like a lukewarm maybe.”

I was enshrouded by the low, dark clouds that enveloped our valley for those gloomy days a bit over a week ago.

Then the snow came. Wasn’t it beautiful? The sandy field next to my home was cloaked in a pristine whiteness. The mountains glistened with their snowy blanket. As Father North exhaled, the smattering of snow took turns wafting and chinooking down my street, drifting and swirling hither and yon.

It took me back to my childhood with snow angels, cozy warm fires and hot cocoa. I made cookies that day. For three days a patch of snow persisted in a shady spot of my yard — not willing to melt — as if it were saying, “Remember me, remember this year, there is much which will be beautiful in the days ahead.”

That little snow patch (oh, why didn’t I take a picture of it?), touched into the recesses of my heart. I am certain 2015 will have its challenges but the flurry of snowflakes has lightened the gloom of a “no goal” year. I realized my outlook was beclouded, obfuscated with a bit of gloominess. Now instead of “at 64 years old, how dedicated am I to change?” the winter’s chill has warmed me, blowing in the feeling of “even at 64 change is good, but believing in change is even better!”

I read a book over the holiday, one of those bargain basement deals, a Christmas book still on the store’s sale table at an after-Christmas sale. I think I bought it three years ago, but finally, with the snowy calm, this year I read it. It is a book of Christmas threatened, saved, and enlightenment. Mostly it is a book about belief, goals and brotherly kindness.

The frigid end to 2014 taught me much: There is something worse than dying and that is not believing in a future, withdrawing from hope.

Having hope is what makes goal-setting so important. If we stop setting goals, we stop hoping for a better tomorrow. If we stop hoping for a better tomorrow, we give up on working for that better tomorrow.

Loosely defined, work is doing something to achieve something positive. Your work may be a job to bring in money for food and shelter, or it may mean running a household, or (for some) it may be getting out of bed every day and putting on a smile for even a brief moment.

For each of us there is some slice of life that is work; but for all of us that task improves us, individually or as a community. If we stop working, we stop improving, we stagnate. The old adage states that we never stand still, we either move forward or we slide backward. I guess that is what goals are all about. Each goal (or lack of a goal) is our statement to our self, our admission that we are going to try to improve in some way or that we are willing to give up, to slide backward, to not care who or what becomes of us or those around us.

My little Christmas book beautifully teaches a lesson I truly believe. It is the essence of life to me. It tells of a Santa who became Santa because he saw a need, a need to serve. Not only did he feel the need to serve, but he recognized those he was helping needed to serve in order to heal their sorrow.

We each carry heavy burdens. We each have some sorrow and many scars from life which we carry into 2015. But just as the book’s Santa turned outward, healing the world (and that world may consist of just one or two people for each of us), so I challenge all of us this new year to look outward (no matter how difficult our road, no matter what our losses have been) to set at least one goal to become a better person, to reach out to one or two people in our little community of Boulder City and become a better neighbor, a closer friend, a kinder acquaintance.

Mend your heart by helping others be useful. Don’t just do for them; help them mend their hearts by engaging with them, have them help you help others. Helping is magic. And magic is just a kind of helping.

Cat Trico has been a resident of Boulder City since 2003 and is a past president of the Senior Center and co-founder of the Decker Lake Wetlands Preserve. As an author and editor, she contributed to “Rights, Responsibilities, and Relationships” for youth. She can be reached at cat.circa1623@gmail.com.

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