A Personal Connection ~ Finding Time To Do Just A Few More Things

By Hank Manz  |

I am still recovering from a recent birthday.

Just about anybody even close to my age will tell you that birthdays become a love-hate sort of thing at this point and beyond. And when you hit those start/end-of-a-new-decade events—the ones where your current age ends in zero—one has to pause for a moment.

I have never advertised my birthday, but this is the age of instant media so of course there were all sorts of way people could figure it out.

Several people wrote on my Facebook Wall. Facebook is another one of those love-hate things with me. The fact that my Facebook avatar is a rat, albeit a cute rat, should give you some hint about my feelings on that score. Shortly after I set up my Facebook account, I realized that people I knew 30 years ago could now trade stories about me with people I met much more recently. That cannot be good in the long run.

On the plus side, the Internet has allowed me to re-connect with one of the three bright spots in an otherwise dim high school experience. Mrs. Blumberg, my junior year English teacher, is still teaching. Mrs. Blumberg introduced me to, among other things, Shakespeare, and she was the first to suggest that there was better poetry around than that scrawled on bathroom walls.

A couple of people, noting my age, felt I should do something special to mark the day. I took that advice.

The first thing I did was to cut what passes for a lawn at my house without being reminded and I trimmed the bushes which line the driveway, again with no reminder. And then I got rid of the moss and patched the bare spots before spreading some really nice wood chips from the Hartwell Ave. composting operation under the two apple trees in the front yard.

Then I cleaned up a bit so I could preside over my last meeting as the Chair of the Board of Selectmen. One last executive session and then Deb Mauger took over as the new Chair. I have become increasingly aware of just how much time is eaten up by the constant stream of things that seem small, but collectively add up to many hours a week. I know—this should not be news to many in a town where volunteerism is almost religion, but it helps to be reminded that nothing happens without the two key ingredients of time and work. I will simply say that after two years as the chair, I have a new appreciation for those who work at the many things which make Lexington the town it is.

I have gotten a jump on my mindless summer reading by checking out an e-book from Cary Library. In this Robert Parker mystery, the chair of the Board of Selectmen of a small Massachusetts town is involved in major criminal activity which includes murder, misuse of public money, and worst of all, intrusion on Conservation Land. With all of that she still has time for an affair with the Superintendent of Schools. Give me a break. The best way to make sure somebody has no extra time is to get them involved in some community work. Lex Farm. The Farmers Market. The Garden Club. The 300th Committee. The Community Center Task Force. The LHS Landscaping Committee. The Friends of Cary Library. Youth sports. Just about any committee including the one that was formed to figure out why we have so many committees interested in transportation. The list is pretty close to endless.

The really unbelievable part is that all of this activity in the Parker potboiler remains a secret for years. Fat chance, at least in Lexington. I once said that Good news travels at the speed of sound, but bad news travels at the speed of light. I thought it was original until I checked it out and found that there are several more well-known writers who have said much the same thing.

Mark Twain and Douglas Adams have both weighed in on the subject with quotes that are much cleverer than mine. But it was my son who said something which I saw as an incredible growth moment—If you don’t want people in Lexington to know you are doing something bad … then don’t do it.

Unfortunately, all too often the other side of that coin is not apparent to all. I mean sometimes we miss the many good things which are going on in Town. So as you walk around, take a moment to stop and talk to people. And don’t forget to talk to Town employees, many of whom live here and do a lot more than just their jobs. A few years ago when there was a water leak in my neighborhood, the DPW crew who responded let every kid on the block check out the backhoe they were using and then went up the street and bought out the lemonade stand two girls were running. Every time I pass that patch in the street I think of that day and my tax bill becomes a bit easier to look at.

Summer is fast approaching with concerts, the carnival, Blue Sox baseball, supper at a sidewalk table, and all the rest of it. There really is a lot to do in Lexington so this summer, with a bit more time on my hands, I am going to do some of them. But first I have to finish this column …


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