A Year in Perspective

December 31, 2008

Like many people, I’ve been dwelling today on my year’s highlights and lowlights. Besides the most important and obvious — the health and love of my family, I keep thinking about what it means to have rekindled long-lost friendships with a handful of high school friends.

They’re not just people I like because of our good times together way back when, but I admire them for who they were and even more for what they’ve become.

Though they live far away, the expression “my friends” never sounded more resonant and meaningful than at this moment.

And in these perilous financial times, I’m also thankful that I’m not the toothless man I saw today a block from my house. Gaunt and younger than me, he stopped his bike and examined an orange next to the street. (An orange on the ground in Portland is indeed odd.) He smelled and squeezed it, then tossed away the fruit.

“No good?” I asked.

“I wish it was.”

“I just bought a bag of tangerines yesterday. You want some?”

“No thanks.”

He pedaled away in the direction I was walking. He pulled into a driveway behind some apartments. As I passed, I saw him rifling through the dumpsters.

I’m thinking about him as I head out with my wife Suzame for a sumptious end-of-the-year feast and a movie. My complaints about life’s travails this year now echo back to me like our little boy Atticus whining over something extraordinary trivial.