There is something to be said about living in a small town, the camaraderie among residents, fellow support of local businesses, children seeing their teacher in the grocery store, and realizing they don't really live at school, and pulling into your home, knowing that the hustle and bustle of city life can't touch your perfectly graveled driveway.
Towns like Townsend are a rare gem. We keep to ourselves, but wallow in the excitement of a Fox 25 zip trip visit, or even seeing our small town's name make it on the news for most snowfall.
Our hidden jewel is not a continuous story on the news battling gang activity, or random acts of violence, and for that we are grateful. Though growing up, as a teenager I didn't look at the small town size as such a blessing. My friends and I would complain that everyone knew what everyone else was doing, and how you couldn't go anywhere without seeing someone that knows your mom and will let her know at their next breakfast visit where she saw her daughter, even if it was just the innocence of being at a different part of town. Yet as I've grown older, moved away, came back and repeated the act a number of times, I see things differently.
Gone is the chip on my shoulder of not appreciating small town life. This is because I've had to wait for the Boston bus that's never on time, or the T that I missed because my shift ended after the train stopped and now all my hard earned tips went to a cab ride home. While city life
Very few towns still have band concerts, or businesses that have survived recessions and dark times, thanks to the support of the locals. All this gives me great pride in where I came from. This all led why I was so disheartened to hear about the recent act of cruelty on out very own Harbor Bridge. A long time anonymous resident, along with the help of her fellow "elves" took great pride in keeping the bridge welcoming to those who cross over it everyday.
Decorations at Christmas time in snowstorms, fresh flowers boxes as affirmation that spring is on its way, a sign that reminded us everyday to be grateful for what we have in our lives, and most importantly to myself and my family, patriotic pride for those who have served, and or are serving this great country we live in. When the sign was ripped down recently it was overlooked, maybe someone got tired of seeing it and felt it had run its course, maybe it had frayed through the seasons ... fine. Yet to hear that someone took the time to tear down the flower boxes, uproot the flowers, and send both floating down the river, is just downright mean. It took both ignorance, and physical strength to partake in this act, and clearly more than a moment of bitterness. But why? Was the sight of a well-kept bridge that upsetting to you; was someone's random act of kindness infringing upon your rights? There was nothing up there pushing a political view, or religious belief; it was daisies, pansies and some ivy, harmless in my eyes, yet warming to see. Life can kick you when your down, you can sit there some nights wondering when you're ever going to catch a break or if the whole world has it out for you.
I saw a quote that said "some mornings I just don't feel like slaying dragons."
And often times, especially the ones we're living in, that's exactly what it feels like. But have we gotten so bitter, that beautiful things, and uplifting words cause us to vandalize? I hope not in my town. Maybe the flowers were planted as a memory to loved ones passed, maybe the American flags are for a service member who never made it home from war, and maybe they Christmas decorations are to be festive for families that just didn't have the extra money this year to put up a wreath or reindeer.
Whatever the reason, who does it hurt? No one. Working in the school district I have a sign on my desk that simply says "just be nice." I tell my students that they don't have to share the same opinion as their classmates, they have the right to be upset when they're friend chooses someone else to play with at recess, and its ok to get jealous when their classmate has Oreos when their mom packed them celery sticks. It's OK, because we are human. It's inevitable that every emotion we feel wont be sprinkled with pixie dust and rainbows.
But we have to be nice. It is true that almost everything we need to know in life can be learned through simple kindergarten principles. Share, apologize, and admit when you're wrong. There are just too many more negative things going on in the world to start nit picking at the nice things. We have larger battles out there that could use our attention. Let's commit to keeping our small towns, and values sacred, when the rest of the world is trying to change them. Smile at your neighbor, stay kind to one another, and simply ... just be nice.