We walked by so many fountains early this morning and they made me think of a friend we had dinner with recently and that made me think of grid paper.
Her birthday wish for herself was to think of others through the month more than herself so she set out to cheer up, cheer on or cheer for 66 people. Two or more anonymous good deeds a day is not hard until it is, so she reached out to her pastor and friends to ask them to share names. And every day she sent cards or notes and help where it was needed. When she met a city worker drowning in an unorganized dump site she sorted recyclables with her for a while, left and then returned to give her a gift card and say thanks.
Years ago I read Beautiful Boy by American author David Sheff about his crystal meth-addicted son Nic. He shares in the epilogue that he became codependent on his son’s relapses and recovery and relates the lesson of the grid paper:
“The artist Chuck Close once said, ‘I get overwhelmed by the whole.’ He learned to break down images into a grid of small, manageable squares. Painting one square at a time, he creates mesmerizing wall-sized portraits. I was often overwhelmed by the whole, too, but I learned to contain my worry about Nic in a square or two of the grid that would be there if Close were to paint my life.”
I wish to be a fountain for friends and loved ones, but resembling more a dog with an old bone, I can give every square every day to things that loom large in my head but don’t really count. And that loops me back to our friend. She began every day this month focused on her 66. After hearing her story I bought a new supply of grid paper to get back to the habit of using it as my daily planner. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get better at appropriating squares.
Happy benevolent birthday, L., and many wishes. Thank you for how you love our Lincoln kids.