Hey, Boomer Walkabout #2
It was very cold on Sunday morning, 21 degrees. I wasn’t sure we were going to be up to walking in that kind of chill. Luckily for us, it warmed up into the 40’s by the time of our walk, the sun was high, and the sky was vibrantly blue.
Gayle and I decided to walk a section of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, from the Greenville Zoo to the Former Cleveland Park Stable site, and then looped around until we got back to the Zoo. The trail has been built on a now defunct rail bed and currently stretches for 22 miles.
The Big Dog Show Exhibit
We were pleasantly surprised to find The Big Dog Show, a large-scale temporary art exhibition at the former Cleveland Park Stable site. This is part of Greenville’s Arts in Public Places Program. As our walk began, we were talking about the sadness and helplessness we were feeling around the war in Ukraine, so coming upon this exhibit helped to lift our spirits. Many families were out enjoying the day, taking pictures with the sculptures and wandering down along the Reedy River. This section of the trail also includes some exercise stops for an added workout for the walkers.
Gayle retired shortly before the pandemic. She had been the Director of the childcare program at her church and loved working with the parents and children. But she felt it was the right time to retire. Then we went into lockdown.
We talked about how the pandemic has changed us. Gayle used to think she had to be around people. She learned to become more comfortable being with herself. She also learned that she was a doer, and not having a sense of purpose that involved giving back to the community, was difficult for her.
I also wanted to be involved and found my purpose in working to provide inspiration about what is possible as we age. Hey, Boomer was born out of the pandemic and my desire to build a supportive community. As I learned more about the harmfulness of loneliness as we age, I knew I wanted to make a conscious effort to build my relationships. That is part of my wish to have a weekly Hey, Boomer walkabout. I am curious about other people, and I look forward to what I can learn on my weekly walks. I also look forward to what I can share and the relationships we are building.
Gayle found her involvement as a volunteer at Place of Hope. Place of Hope serves the chronically homeless individuals in Greenville County. They come in the morning for a shower, laundry services and maybe some clean socks, before they head over to Project Host for a meal.
Gayle is building relationships with the people who come to the Place of Hope. She likes greeting them in the morning, seeing their smiles and offering some kind words. Most of the guests have lived on the streets for years, some in tent cities and some you may find sleeping on park benches or in store fronts. Most do not want to stay in shelters. Yet they find a sense of community among each other and with the volunteers. Recently, they lost two members of this community to a house fire, where they were sleeping to try to stay warm.
I asked her how she finds inner peace, not just with all that is happening in the world, but also volunteering in an area that (to me) seems so hopeless.
“You have to find it in yourself,” she said. She prays, she goes to the dog park for some socialization, she sees friends.
Are we doing enough?
Are we doing enough? That is always the question we ask ourselves. But is that the right question? Maybe the better question is, “are we living our values?” Gayle is volunteering directly in the community. She sees the people she is helping; she sees them as individuals struggling with addictions and health issues, and individuals who deserve and appreciate her kindness. She is living her values of helping and building relationships.
I too am living my values. My value of inspiring others to be all they want to be. My value of teaching and motivating and sparking ideas. I rarely see my community to know if I am having an impact. These walkabouts help me connect and answer the question “am I doing enough.” Internally, it is comforting to be living my values.