Last week I attended the memorial service of a neighbor who died suddenly of unexpected causes.  The neighborhood showed up in strength, and after the formal eulogies, the impromptu memories shared by those who knew him in the neighborhood were simultaneously beautiful and heart breaking.  


He worked at a local business for several decades, but I never knew him to be flustered by work deadlines or overloaded with assignments.  To the contrary, he had always seemed particularly present when I bumped into him on the sidewalk.  What I learned from his circle of friends was that he had moved into the neighborhood after growing up on the opposite coast.  While he always retained a twinge of his original accent, he had made our neighborhood his home.


He knew all the local businesses and patronized them as his own personal investment in their success.  He met his neighbors, and he introduced them to his own friends and to the businesses of the neighborhood.  During the pandemic, he gathered friends on the front steps of their houses.  A text thread announced the next meeting spot and time.  Those who considered themselves his friends, and so many did, came out in droves. 


I realized that what might have seemed as a lack of ambition or career focus, was actually a commitment to the fabric of life.  This neighbor wove the fabric itself together with his attention and his care.  At the height of the pandemic, he knew all the businesses, how they were fairing, and how they had adapted, or not, to the latest circumstances.  


These were not the marks of lack of ambition.  These were the marks of care, and commitment to a community, and a willingness to accept the present in all its imperfections and enjoy it nonetheless.


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