Sometimes, it’s important to simply enjoy what you’ve got.
“I ARISE IN THE MORNING TORN between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world,” wrote the essayist E.B. White, “This makes it hard to plan the day.”
Ah, that’s the dilemma. You live in a nice place. But it could be nicer—if only the park were fixed up or the traffic slowed down, if the schools were better or the business district brighter. So what to do first? You’d like to plop down on a bench for a while, soak up the sunshine, listen to the birds sing or kids play, and just watch the world go by. But you really ought to be organizing a meeting, handing out flyers and enlisting volunteers for the big event.
Actually, it’s important to do both. Without taking time to truly savor your neighborhood, you lose touch with why you love it in the first place. Soon, all you see is what’s wrong. And that quickly diminishes your effectiveness as community advocate. No one is inspired by harried, humorless, negative leader who would really rather be doing something else.
On a strategic, as well as a personal, level it’s smart to take a long stroll every evening, linger at the sidewalk café, stop for a chat with neighbors, and just generally revel in all the great things your community offers. Otherwise, what’s the point of living there?
IN THE IRISH HILL NEIGHBORHOOD OF LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, THE PROFESSIONAL PORCH SITTERS UNION IS COMING TO ORDER. Crow Hollister, who founded it, explains in Orion magazine that the organization attracts hard-working activists, professionals, artists, mothers, revolutionaries, gardeners. “People like you. They work hard, volunteer in their community, sit on boards, have schedules to keep and chores that need tending.” Each meeting follows an agenda, but there is nothing written on it. Iced tea is served, followed by beer. Stories begin to flow. Andy brings up how his neighbor was visited by the windshield wiper fairy. Hillary talks about an article coming up in her self-published zine Bejeezus. Mike has got the inside scoop on how to get concrete bench tops for free. Then, Hollister reports, “ A neighbor walking her dog is enticed to join us. A lot is getting accomplished.”
The Professional Porch Sitters Union began on the porch described above in 1999 and now features chapters across the country. Hollister encourages you to start your own, keeping in mind that the organization is governed by only one rule: “Sit down a spell. That can wait.” He’d like to hear how it goes, but don’t sweat it if you don’t get around to writing him.