Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Keep Hope Alive

Another weekend has come and gone, moving along more quickly that I would have liked, but I made the most of it – down to the very last second. I’m not one for standing on the sidelines for too long, waiting to see what develops. I make things happen! Keeping busy is important to me.

That’s not to say I don’t like a bit of downtime too. Couch potato moments are equally valuable. However, these periods of rejuvenation must be seen as just that, and not as a means of escape from reality, as so many do. Too much of a good thing at either end of the sphere has its limitations, especially with a sedentary lifestyle. Don’t be lured into a false sense of enjoyment or seduced by the comfort of a computer, iPad, smart phone or television and a remote control (and for some, overindulgence at happy hour), because this often leads to depression and a hopeless disposition.

We are 17 days into a new year, and I’m hopeful many will find a voice of motivation within, seeking something greater, and it can happen when we elect change – real change, and the best way to begin this process is by turning off the world at 30 minute intervals a few times each week.

I encourage everyone to power down his/her electronics, leave the car at home and go for a simple uncomplicated walk – alone! Connect with the colors of a season and the sounds of nature, and you’ll find answers to life’s questions, and much inspiration (this I can assure you if you devote yourself to the process).

Living in the extremes is a recipe for disaster. I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum at different points in my life. Maturity and a whole lot of personal experience has taught me that moderation is key and leads to a fuller life. Find everyday balance, incorporating small measures to improve your overall health and you will find the real you, hopefully drama-free.

As for my weekend – it was fabulous! It began early Friday morning with a rare and wonderful hike on the Jones Falls Trail with my friend Michael. (If/when he elects to venture outdoors with me, it’s rarely in the early AM). I’m not one to look for affirmations, but appreciated his kind words, “I can see why you do this every day.” (It’s nice when someone else feels my joy, because I know it’s going to carry over to the next person they meet, and that’s just the way it was meant to be. It’s called “paying it forward” – something we must all consistently do.)

I spent time at a few of my favorite places – The Walters Art Museum and The Baltimore Museum of Art: I no longer peruse entire galleries, but select a few works to look at intensely, absorbing colors, shapes, themes, etc… The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory at Botanic Gardens: I pass by it when I’m running and it’s just so easy for me to pop in for 30 minutes of mediation in the Palm or Orchid rooms… Enoch Pratt Free Library (central branch): I’m always borrowing and/or returning materials. I enjoy roaming the building and observing the people. I can always find a traveling exhibit on display too. The one in place now is an educational piece on the War of 1812, which will be the subject of much attention this year, its 200th anniversary.

It wouldn’t be an amazing weekend if I weren’t outdoors trekking through neighborhoods and snapping photographs. The highlights: There were two new discoveries – a ghost sign (this one at University of Maryland Medical Center), and the Pine Street Police Station in downtown, which I never knew existed. It’s a beautiful building, and it’s currently getting a makeover… I love a first, and finally after 46 years, I made it into Lexington Market, only to be disappointed. It’s everything a market should be – big and crowded, and it was! Sadly, it was disturbing to see so many individuals waiting in lines for fried foods, pigs’ feet, etc. The majority of the people there were obese and unhealthy. There were a few beautiful fruits stands and a health food stall with no customers. Talk about a crisis, but I digress… Of course, I always enjoy the Baltimore skyscrapers and skyline, especially at sunset… I revisited a playground of dreams and a mural that asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”… On my way home, I made a visit to the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, the site of Edgar Allan Poe’s grave. (I’ve been there many times before and it never gets boring).

The culmination of my weekend was spent commemorating the birthday of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the past few years I’ve made a conscious effort to celebrate his legacy through volunteer work, by attending a memorial service and the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Parade, and through words.

As I reflect on the significance of MLK Day, I think about the sacrifices people made, black and white, so that all may walk together as a people united. What better day to celebrate the unification of people. We forget that various ethnicities and cultures played a role in helping to shape MLK’s vision.

It's essential we remember that some differences still exist, that we are not always going to get along. There are still battles to be won. However, all must be done with civility. Now, more than ever, we must extend the hand of equality to our friends, neighbors, coworkers and many others, regardless of gender, color of skin, creed, religion or sexual orientation. No longer must we “pretend” to work together, but truly work together for the greater good if we are to accomplish the larger tasks at hand.

MLK sacrificed his life not just for black people, but for all, so that we may walk together as one.

Monday, at the parade, a little girl while pointing at me said, “What’s he doing here? This is a black 'thang!'” I can’t say I was surprised, but I was disappointed because I’m sad and concerned for the mixed messages she’s receiving in life. Here’s hoping she’ll one day realize the true dream of Dr. King.

Thank you, Brian, for joining me on a few of my adventures, especially those that took place yesterday.

I hope everyone took a few moments to appreciate how far we’ve come, while realizing just how much more work needs to be done, and that we all play an important role. Here’s to keeping hope alive – in every facet of life. - paerki

Additional Photos: MLK Parade, When I Grow Up, Random Weekend

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"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." - Susan B. Anthony

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