A Strong Foundation
By John R. Greenwood
The photo above may appear average and unremarkable. Still, as I knelt there this April morning, the view reminded me of my personal foundation. Growing up in a small country village surrounded by a supportive community proved to be one of the most valuable contributions to my life. Whenever I begin to dissect what true happiness is, I inevitably return to my roots. Not simply family roots but those of my youth in general.
There isn't a day when I don't refer back to a face or story from my early life. Grade school classmates, backyard adventures, scout meetings, tree climbing, hay fort building, and visions of the old swimming hole all surface. When it's quiet with no outside distractions, I can visualize the endless list of people who strengthened my foundation. The obvious are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and my dear sister. Then the surnames of the childhood families that added mortar to that foundation flow like water: Shay, Dake, Atwell, Davis, Gibbons, Cornell, Baldwin, Frasier, Hodges, O'Donnell, Rumpf, Panton, Lindahl, Bootier, Levo, Orisesk, Barney, Brown, Wheatley, Allen, Claydon, Gordon, Cote, Kahl, Sherman, Hall, Sesselman, Kostka, Bowen, Cline, Schwartz, Hurd, Smero, Koptula, Homiak, Pasmik, and Jones, all just a fraction of the mountainous collection of contributors to my life. I could fill pages with the names of people who've positively influenced me. Every day I channel an event or lesson I've experienced. Even the painful or uncomfortable ones have meaning and purpose in some remote way. How lucky I've been to have lived in the time and places that I have.
I saw that when I stood up and looked at my freshly painted foundation. Those names began popping into my head, inspiring me to write them down. As I write this, the gentle rain falling outside has given me a moment to ponder each name and attach a memory. It's an activity that I practice often and one that gives me immense pleasure. I know many people spend their lives searching for happiness via material things. Although a new car, exotic vacation, or motorboat can bring you short-term joy, the list of names above could only be obtained by growing up where stone foundations can still be found today.
Thank you, the 1960s and Greenfield Center, NY.