Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Making an Effort

In the 1950s, there were kids in grade school with me who didn't have easy lives. One boy in my class lived with his family in a wooden railroad box car stored near the city's train yards. This boy was an excellent student, extremely bright and friendly to all. Hopefully he found life to get easier as he grew older. But despite his difficult home situation, this boy always came to school in clean clothes with his hair combed and was eager to learn.

Appearance is not everything, but it speaks volumes about the effort put forth by the individual. It shows sincerity, positive outlook and, yes, keeping up appearances requires effort. Obviously someone in that boy's family helped him make that effort.

Effort may be one of the most under rated traits around. And, unfortunately, it seems to be seriously lacking in our population today. Unless the tide changes, effort may become a thing of the past, along with buggy whips and button-top shoes.

People seem to have forgotten how to make an effort regarding a lot of subjects. They seem to have lost the effort to:

Find something of interest to occupy their time. Everyone should have something that they look forward to doing: reading a book, pursuing a hobby, volunteering to help others. Focus is important to making each day worthwhile. We need to keep active and interested in order to remain active and interesting.

Get some exercise. This can require only minutes for a brisk walk a few times each week. We can find many reasons to avoid getting exercise, which physicians agree can help improve our health as we age. We find time to do any number of other meaningless tasks -- some of which require a great deal of work -- but getting exercise gets little attention.

Communicate with others. Communication requires more than sending a social network message to people you seldom see. An occasional email demonstrating some thought and showing some personal interest is a great way to keep in touch. Isn't it nice to receive an occasional spontaneous email?

Dress appropriately. Let's be honest. People are quickly becoming slobs. Clothed in sweat pants, T-shirts and shod in plastic flip flops, people dine in nice restaurants, shop in stores and even travel by air. A short time ago these clothes were worn to wash the car or work in the garden. Next time you are headed out hurriedly, stop in front of the mirror. If people might think you were just changing the car's oil, you might want to change your clothes.

Practice basic hygiene. Soap is cheap and deodorant readily available. These are not costly items. Most houses now have running water. There are few reasons to avoid hygiene and it takes only a few minutes to prevent odor from radiating to those standing nearby. I know that when I spend time among the "great unwashed" I wonder why these folks are torturing me. I also wonder what their friends/spouse/partner must think and why they don't gently encourage the odor spreader to occasionally wash.

Remain positive. The current economy presents a challenge for us all. It is hard to remain positive about the future when friends and family may be jobless, losing their home, perhaps struggling with health problems or domestic challenge. But we must keep in mind that circumstances will change -- they always have changed. Just because the present looks grim is no reason to lose confidence.

Without making an effort, there is no change. Without making an effort, there is no improvement. Without making an effort, tasks do not get completed.

We all need to make an effort in order to move our communities forward.

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