- John Brodey
Embracing the new year is not as easy as it sounds. With a clean slate comes the pressure to change. Whether it is to become a better person, take better care of yourself, eliminate bad habits or just pay closer attention to the signs on public restrooms which now resemble Egyptian hieroglyphics (here’s a shout out to the very kind women who escorted me out of the ladies’ room at the Green Music Hall last night); it’s a challenge.
We live in times that are overrun with decisions and possibility which make it even more complicated. Where to look for some guidance? Well, at our first Rotary meeting of the year we were joined by member Barb Spangler who also happens to be the Rotary Governor for our District, 5130. It is customary for the DG to visit all 47 clubs in 5130 and then visit their own club last. She was still full of energy and inspiration from her months on the road and attending a week-long seminar attended by 535 other DG’s from around the world. But a great leader doesn’t just spout the same platitudes and recite a message over and over. They find a way to make us think. They challenge us to personalize an ideal.
Every year the new President of Rotary International chooses a slogan if you will. A motto for the year ahead. This year’s directive was “Be the Inspiration”; very general and easily dismissed. But Barb had us write down answers to four questions: Who inspired you in your life, what did they say or do to inspire you, how did that change you and what can you do to honor them? For Barb, it was her step-father. For me, oddly, it was my son. I was inspired by him at an early age. His quest for knowledge, fearlessness, compassion, hard work and, shockingly for a third grader, spectacular judgement made me his student in a way. After he went off to college, I started to think about how much time I’d wasted through lack of focus or application. It felt natural to want to emulate him and do something that would make a difference, not necessarily to me but to others.
Now that I think about it, that is about the time I decided to join Rotary. We all do different things with inspiration but working with a group of like-minded people determined to make a difference in the world seemed worthy of him. It felt good this past meeting to hear how much our donation to the Jewish Family and Children Services for fire victim counseling was appreciated. And the $8,000 contribution to fire relief efforts in Paradise can’t help but make you proud. It reminds me of Barb’s bottom line phrase, “Do What Matters”. I know I’ll never quite live up to the example my son has set for me. But one of these days I’m going to have to thank him.