I was looking back in the archives (I mean, way back) to when I once wrote a weekly editorial column in the El Paso Times. The title of the piece was called Planting The Seeds of Hope.
A young girl had written to me because she was scared. Events in our country around that time were causing her stress, including 9/11, racial tensions in her life (she was African American) and recent waves of violence where she lived. This little girl was feeling overwhelmed and her letter prompted me to really stop and think about a proper response.
Writing “back” to her in the form of a column meant for public consumption was a little tricky, but essentially, I told her that for every good deed we perform – it could be as simple as using your manners, obeying your parents, turning in your homework on time, etc. – we’re planting a little seed, a hope seed, all around us. And the only way to water these seeds are through our good deeds. It was a basic and simple way of letting her know that we play a huge part in creating better communities. It was my simple take on the popular adage that we have to be the change that we want to see in this world.
This column, written many years ago, has always been the working title for another story idea or bigger writing project called The Hope Seed. In fact, this was supposed to be the title of my last book, The Happy Manifesto.
Fast-forward to right now. Today is Tuesday. Over the weekend I had the honor of attending a funeral for a young man named Josh Tovar. Josh was an outstanding individual whose accomplishments would fill reams of pages. He was an inspiration to anyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting him, a kid that brightened every room he walked in. And at 6’4, he owned every room he entered, too.
At the funeral mass, we were provided with a small bag of Mexican Redbud seeds so that we could plant them in hopes that those trees would, just like Josh, make our own worlds a little brighter.
As I sat in the pew at St. Raphael’s Catholic Church and looked at those little seeds, I couldn’t help but smile. I smiled because I became inspired again. Josh, through many of his good deeds, planted his own little seeds of hope for everyone around him, just like I wrote to that little overwhelmed girl so many years ago. And now this packet of seeds in my hand was like a baton being passed to me.
I’ve been reminded that it doesn’t matter how old you are or where you happen to fall on the scale of happy and healthy, I must continue to plant my own seeds, to reevaluate, reassess, and renew old promises and goals that I made a long time ago. In fact, we all can.
Like any farmer will tell you, there’s more than one season in a year. We can always rotate that crop, sow those seeds and create bountiful outcomes for everyone around us.
Last but not least…
While one great young man was laid to rest last weekend, another is still fighting for his life. Jacob Dindinger, my second cousin, is an EMT in Tucson who, along with his partner, was ambushed by a gunman while on duty.
The shooting made headlines all over the country, mainly because it was so bizarre and random. The bottom line: two people were killed during the tragedy. My cousin was shot four times and the outcome has been described as grim.
Jacob is only 20, and like Josh, was just starting to get into his own groove, plant his own seeds and watch them grow before this senseless shooting. Despite his youth, Jacob recognized early on that he wanted to be of service to his community and follow in the steps of his older brother.
Keep fighting, Jake…