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Being neighborly. Have we lost the art?

In our busy lives, who has the time to be neighborly? Have we lost the art of living?

Recently there was a knock at our door, two young children from up the road asked if they could borrow a cup of sugar. We readily gave them the sugar. Later I told Al, “They are bringing the past into the current day.” I thought about the days when we knew our neighbors and we didn’t hesitate to ask for help.

Years ago when our children were at home, we sometimes needed to borrow a cup of sugar or a couple of eggs. We borrowed from our neighbors and our neighbors felt free to borrow from us. Those days were simpler times for all of us, we needed each other. Today we jump in the car and drive 12 miles to town not wanting to impose on anyone. We have lost something, maybe it is the art of community, sharing and relationships.

We were watching a documentary on the Amish People the other night. Their lives are built around community. They choose to work together rather than buy a gasoline motor and save on man power. They are holding on to the past and a way of life. They see working together as a social experience. Their children are in the field with them before they can walk. They come along side their parents. Work is not an option. They are taught at a young age to work together and enjoy each other.

Have we missed something in our own family? Our grandchildren laugh at their granddad’s stories when he was a young boy. They yearn to know him in the days when he danced to Stardust, courted the girls, drove pinstripe cars with hopped-up motors and the story about his first job. They also love to hear stories about their mother when she was a young girl, But, Al and I have one thing in mind, that is getting the work done. So when they come to help us, instead of valuing the experience of socializing with our grandchildren, getting to know them, teaching them some of our values, we are thinking about getting the job done.

I feel like we have lost rare moments that will never come again. Our grandchildren will soon be grown and gone just like our own children. Have we lost the art of living in the process of living? Has the demands of today stripped us of our fiber and little things that are really important?

A week later, the two children from up the way, knocked at our door holding a hot peach pie wrapped in two old fashion flour sacks. The pie had just come out of the oven and they wanted to say thank you for the cup of sugar.

I can not tell you the warmth that flooded over me. That little gesture spoke so much of the past when women baked, neighbors were neighbors instead of just having adjacent property lines and young children experienced giving and receiving.

We have talked about painting a picture, balancing colors and values, having freedom of expression, but is not the art of living even more essential? The art of living should portray a well-balanced life, full of exciting colors and values, full of texture and expression and design. Are we giving as much attention to life as we are to a painting?

This sweet family moved to the Lower Blanco a few months ago and they are the ones who extended their hand in friendship and reminded us how a hot homemade peach pie could change the way neighbors look at each other. It also gave opportunity for Al and I to see that we might be missing out on how we are looking at life.

As we enjoyed the wonderful pie, every bite became a memory, sweet thoughts of how it used to be. I needed to return the glass pie dish and dishtowels. I baked up a pan of sticky buns, a favorite when our children were young, sent it along to the neighbors with the recipe and a note thanking them for bringing back some of the old memories when we were neighborly.

Final brushstroke: The thoughtfulness of others will often show the lack in us.

Comments from readers

Send your comments to bettyslade@centurytel.net.

Artist’s quote

“No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.” — Barbara De Angelis, author.