As I’ve been reflecting today about Gordon B. Hinckley’s legacy, I returned to what an old friend said about marriage as he wedded two of our close friends, that it’s the stories we create about, the “attributions” we assign to, people’s actions that both determine and reflect the quality of our relationships. In that vein, I was moving many pounds of life-giving precipitation from my snowy walkways today. Because I like to shovel snow and because it is a quick and neighborly gesture, I generally open a walking corridor for my neighbors while I’m doing my own walks. Sometimes, capriciously, I don’t bother with the walks of one neighbor, a pleasant young couple, who I assume can manage their own snow removal (I focus on the convenient walks of older individuals and single people). Today that seemed petty, so I added their walk to my super-quick shoveling routine. As I finished, the woman arrived, thanked me effusively, and explained that her husband is out of town and she’s not great with the shovel, thereby toppling the easy-to-construct narrative of the young freeloaders that had lubricated my pettiness in the past. Thank heavens for reminders that we are none of us quite as dark as the rest of us selfishly imagine, nor as invulnerably self-absorbed as we seem.
Neighbors and stories
January 28, 2008 by