A while ago, a friend of mine lost a child in a terrible and tragic way. She began to knit things for the people she loves. In the thick of her grief, her friends would go to the mailbox and find an envelope stuffed with colorful hand-knitted items, with grief, and loss and love winding through every stitch.
I thought about this today, as I pulled the hat she had knitted me from the depths of the closet, and wore it on my way to the doctor’s office, the russet and orange skeins of wool perfect for this rainy Fall day. I rest my hand on that hat frequently; every time I do I feel the love, and pain, that went into it.
I have been thinking about conscious acts of love, about how we choose to live, while musing over an article that came out in the New York Times over the weekend. It was an article that characterized both my husband and I in ways that are so misinformed, so factually misleading, so viperous, it was almost funny. Almost.
If you have heard me speak at an event, you may very well have heard me tell the – apocryphal – story of a woman who pulls into the gas station in my town of Westport. She tells the attendant she is moving here next week, and asks what the town is like, what will she think of it?
He looks at her and asks what the town is like where she is moving from.
“It’s awful,” she says. “The people are rude, and entitled. They are greedy, arrogant, and self-absorbed. We haven’t made a single friend in all the years we have lived there.”
He nods, knowingly. “Well,” he ventures. “I think you’ll find Westport is much the same.”
A few days later a different woman pulls in, and tells him that she is moving to Westport with her family, and what kind of a town is it?”
He asks her what her old town is like.
“It’s wonderful,” she says, her eyes tearing up. “The people are warm, and inclusive. They give back, they are connected to their community, and they welcome everyone. We have met the loveliest people we have ever known.”
“Good,” he says. “I think you’ll find Westport is much the same.”
I believe that life is where you look. I believe that whatever we put out, we will get back a thousand fold.
When a newspaper of repute prints a story like this in the Style section, however distorted and subjective, people accept it as fact.
And yet today, finally, I am beginning to understand that this story says far less about me, and far more about the person who wrote it, who snaked her own agenda through every line.
The people I love, knit hats in their darkest hour. They write articles that rejoice in other people’s creativity, entrepreneurship, and success. Kindness, care and respect, are the keys to living a good life.
I may not be any of the things I am described as being in the paper last weekend, but I am so very much more, mostly because I am surrounded by wonderful people – family, readers, and friends.
If you’re on this page, thank you. And if you bought that paper a few days ago, wrap it round some fish and chips, douse it with vinegar and salt, and enjoy.
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