Monthly Archives: November 2015

It’s the Most Difficult Time of the Year…

The title of this post was inspired (sort of) by this song:

Aside #1: By the way, at the very beginning you’ll hear a few notes of Andy Williams’ signature song “Moon River”.

This song – “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – was a song he sang on his Christmas TV specials.  I grew up watching them all, along with Bing Crosby’s Christmas TV specials (here is Bing singing a duet with David Bowie!), “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – featuring Burl Ives (watch it here), and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (still being shown on TV every holiday).

And then, of course, “Holiday Inn”(watch it here), “White Christmas”(here’s a clip), and “It’s a Wonderful Life” (watch it here) were just some of the movies I watched as a child.

Anyway, this time of year you really can’t go anywhere without hearing Christmas music.  So this song has been stuck in my head for a few days.

But the contrast between what one thinks Christmas should be like, and what Christmas really is like, is starting to get to me.  I’m not alone, a lot of people feel the same way.  And it’s a struggle to not let it get to you.

My first reaction is to just not go anywhere, but that’s not an option this year because I volunteer at a hospital gift shop.  I can’t just grump out at home.

I don’t have any relatives near me.  My kids are grown and one is off to England to be with her fiance’s family for Christmas soon, one is stuck in Atlanta with no time off, and the place I usually go (Memphis, to visit my son and his wife) probably isn’t an option this year.

I say “probably”, because my son was intending to send a plane ticket, but he’s been so busy I haven’t heard anything yet – and buying a ticket at this late date will be pricey.

Adding to my missing my kids are the women I work with.  Questions about what I’m doing for Christmas, and descriptions of their own family gatherings just feel like a hot poker to the gut at times.   It’s a struggle for me to keep that happy, smiling face on in situations like that.

I’m glad for them, and I truly do like seeing pictures of their grandchildren and listening to their holiday decorating ideas and recipes, but…I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.

Aside #2:  There’s this thing about grandmas and holidays.  I know they aren’t trying to make me feel bad, but I hate seeing that look in their eyes akin to something like pity.  It’s just a thing people my age do, I guess.

My life was not supposed to be like this.

My life was supposed to be with a husband of 38 years, living near at least one of my kids and probably traveling to see the other kids – trips that my husband and I would pay for.  Enjoying retirement, or enjoying a job, or at the very least having a car with which to find a job if need be.

Christmas in a house.  A house owned, not rented.  Being the female half of the “Grandparents hosting the Christmas dinner”, with a huge table where everyone sits, a pretty tree in the window, and lots of laughter and joy.

That’s not my life.

The marriage lasted almost 20 years, when I had had enough of the drinking and cheating.  I even dragged both of us to marriage counseling, and stopped going when the “counselor” (a pastor) wanted to have a session with my then-husband and his mistress.

Yep, he really did try to set that up.  I didn’t swear at him, because you know even I do not swear at clergy, but I was pissed off and I never went back – didn’t pay him, either.

To this day I cannot imagine what his rationale was.

Right, so…that kind of blew the “til death do us part” thing, and all that “couple growing old together” business, and the Norman Rockwell-esque Christmases.

My life at Christmas-time this year is living alone, without a Christmas tree, in a small rented apartment.  Maybe putting up some lights on the porch (if I can earn another gift card with which to buy them), so Nancy Downstairs has a nice view for when she comes home or just looks out her window.

I will (hopefully soon) have DirecTV come hook me up for basic channels, so I can avoid watching Christmas specials and distract myself with other kinds of TV.  Hey, $20/month I can do, and that’s their special rate for a year.

I am the kind of person who, I freely admit, cries while watching Hallmark Christmas specials alone, so I am not going to do that.  I don’t self-inflict.  I’ll watch a Doctor Who Christmas show, probably, and “Sherlock” when the new one comes out in January.

I am struggling – there’s that word again – to maintain a balanced mood, but it’s difficult.

One way to do that, of course, is to focus on others – and as a volunteer, I do that.  I do that 4 days a week.  It’s the “down time” that gets to me.

Come next weekend, I will be out and about finishing my Christmas shopping and hopefully will get it done so I can mail all the presents to my kids and grandson.  It won’t be very much – it never is – and sometimes the postage is more than the gift but…it’s Christmas.  That’s just what you do.

I don’t really know what the point of this blog post is, except just as maybe something I will look back at someday and think, “Wow, my life is so much better than it was back then.”

I have no rational reason to think that way, but if I don’t have any hope that the future will be better…

…I don’t need to fall down that hole.  I might not be able to climb out if I do.  And I certainly don’t want to stay down there so long that I make it a permanent living space for my psyche.

Oh, and the other point of this post is to suggest, once again this year, that if you have a neighbor or someone you know is alone, do something to cheer him or her up.  You’d be surprised at how far a small, kind gesture will go.

And because part of the reason for this blog is to describe what it’s like being disabled, alone, and living under the poverty level, I can tell you that it really sucks during the holidays.  So go make it less sucky for someone, ok?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and that’s never been a huge holiday for me so it doesn’t sting quite so much to be alone.  And hey, at least I’m not a turkey!

So, I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving and travel safely if you go.

Today’s weirdness comes from the “IFLScience” website, about scientists having discovered an island only referred to in ancient texts but never before located, called Kane:

“Researchers Discover Lost Ancient Greek Island”, Josh L. Davis, IFLScience website, 11/23/15.

Recommendation for the week?  A really strange film starring Daniel Radcliffe (yep, of Harry Potter fame) called “Horns”.  It’s about a guy who, after his girlfriend is murdered, grows horns that only he and some others can see.

It’s kind of heavy-handed on the religion at the end, but most of it is nicely done (and there are some humourous parts) and he’s a splendid actor, so well worth a look.  On Hulu and Netflix.

Be good.  Be kind.  Be safe.





Jingo Bells, Jingo Bells, Jingo All The Way

Since part of this blog attempts to comment on/document current events for future readers, this post will be primarily about the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015.  And I will also discuss some particularly hysterical, nationalistic American reactions to those attacks (hence the title).

The very nature of terrorism is such that attacks are designed to paralyze societies with fear.  In that way, the latest attacks were somewhat successful, because I read/hear/see a lot of very terrified people now.  Which is amazing, considering I live in Central Pennsylvania, a rather bucolic and boring part of the US.

I would say that the likelihood of a terrorist attack in Altoona or Hollidaysburg is basically non-existent.  But the people here are scared to death, or at least a very vocal sector is.

Here is the timeline of the attacks, courtesy of the Irish Times website (“Paris Terror Attacks: A Timeline from Friday to Thursday”, no author named, 11/19/2015):

~ At 9:20 PM, the first of 3 explosions is heard at the Stade de France, where fans were watching France play Germany in a “friendly” (soccer, or European football match, where the outcome does not affect a team’s rank).

~ At 9:25 PM, a black sedan pulls up near a crowded restaurant/bar, and 2 men with Kalashnikovs get out and spray the place with bullets, killing 15 people.

~ At 9:30 PM, the second bomb goes off at the Stade de France.  2 bombers and 1 unidentified man are killed.

~ At 9:33 PM, another black sedan pulls up outside a restaurant, men get out and start shooting.  5 people are killed and 8 are seriously injured.

~ At 9:36 PM, another shooting occurs outside a restaurant, killing 19 people.  Most of them had been sitting outside, enjoying the evening.

~ At 9:40 PM, a man walks into yet another restaurant and detonates an explosive vest.  He is killed and 15 people are injured.

~ At 9:46 PM, the president of France (who was also at the stadium at the time of the attacks) prepares to declare a state of emergency.

~ At 9:49 PM, gunmen enter a theater where a rock concert is taking place and start shooting. Some take hostages on the stage.  The police finally storm the theater at 12:20, but by that time 89 people are dead.

~ At 9:53 PM, an attacker detonates an explosive vest outside McDonald’s, apparently killing only himself.

~ At 11:30 PM, President Hollande declares a state of emergency.

~ In the next few days, places in Belgium and Germany are raided.  Arrests are made, mostly for people being connected to a person who police know was involved in the attacks – Bilal Hadfi, one of the jihadists who blew himself up outside the French stadium.

~ Police also raid a residence in Saint-Denis on Wednesday, killing the person who coordinated the attacks – Abdelhamid Abaaoud.  A woman detonated a vest during the raid, and was also killed.

At the time of this blog post, 129 people are dead, and 352 are injured (99 critically so).  The victims are from 15 different countries (Algeria, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Chile, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, and the US).

All 7 attackers are dead – 6 from suicide and 1 shot by police (“Paris Attacks: French Terrorist Named as Vigils Held Around the World – As It Happened”, Chris Johnston, Ben Quinn, Raya Jalabi, and Claire Phipps, The Guardian online, 11/15/15).

One of the attackers is French, named Omar Ismail Mostefai, from the south of France (Ibid). Not a recent immigrant – he was born in France.  This is important, I think, when looking at the reaction of some people, who blame immigrants for this incident.

That’s all I am going to write about him, because I don’t think he deserves any more words.  I have read a lot of commentary about this incident, and about jihadists and their motivations and so on, but what it comes down to for me, as a psychologist, is this:

It doesn’t matter what happens outside of you, it is something internal to you that causes you to behave in this monstrous way.  YOU.  Not the US, not Israel, not religion, not your parents, not your poverty, not your race.  YOU are ultimately responsible for what you do, and it takes a very warped (or non-existent) moral compass to step over the line from hating to murdering.

So, anyway, that was the basic timeline.

Immediately, people made French-flag-colored avatars to paste over their Facebook pictures, to show their solidarity with France.

Aside #1: Really nice of them to do that, I guess, but what about the attacks in Nigeria recently? An 11 year old girl blew herself up in a marketplace, no doubt forced to by Boko Haram – who claimed responsibility (“Police: Bombers, One of Them 11, Target Nigeria Market”, Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN website, 11/19/15).  Where’s her flag?  I guess some of us only care about what happens in white Europe.

Many posted extremely hateful things about Muslims and immigrants, blaming them for the tragedy.  A lot of Americans ranted about the US taking in and relocating refugees from Syria, claiming that jihadists are “sneaking in” that way.

This climate of fear is being fueled by sites such as Fox News, Breitbart, Allen West, Ben Carson, and Donald Trump.  These guys are right-wing “Christians”, who do not want the US to take in refugees.

But, according to WorldVision – which is an evangelical Christian organization founded in 1950 – half of the 12 million people who are fleeing Syria are children.  

They are fleeing due to violence (over 240,000 people have been killed since the Syrian civil war began, and 12,000 of them were children).  Aid groups have a hard time reaching people in Syria who need help, because the Syrian infrastructure has been destroyed (you know, things like hospitals and schools).  Sometimes children are used as combatants and shields, too (“What You Need to Know: Crisis in Syria, Refugees, and the Impact on Children”, World Vision Staff, World Vision website, 11/3/15).

When Americans say, “Well, why don’t they go to Saudi Arabia or Jordan, instead of coming here?”, the answer is simple: they are not welcome there.

Those countries do not even have resettlement programs – people can go there to work as skilled workers, or stay in refugee camps, but they are never allowed to become citizens and their stays can be cancelled at any time, for any reason (“Gulf States Fend Off Criticism About Doing Little for Syrian Refugees”, Deborah Amos, NPR website, 11/20/15).

So they flee to Europe, where they hope they will be safe.  And they also would like to come to the US, as our country still does have the reputation of taking in and caring for people who need us.

Do people forget the Statue of Liberty, given to us by France?  Oh, the irony.

An Extra Post Just for Blog/Website Writers

The irony of this post is that the people I am complaining about will most likely never read it.

I’m annoyed with you, Mr or Ms “I-Wanna-Be-a-Famous ________”  (writer/artist/musician/social commentator).

I’m annoyed with you because you are so self-involved, so motivated by your dreams of fame and fortune, and so lacking in any boundaries that you routinely “like” something on my blog (usually it’s the “About” page, which of course is the shortest and easiest page to access) for the sole purpose of getting me to then read your blog and perhaps comment or follow you.

You don’t read a damn thing on this blog.  I know this because you don’t comment, or I go to your site and see page after page of people thanking you for “liking” their blog post.

Your comments to those, if you bother to write any, are always generic, such as “Thanks! Keep up the good work!”

If you bother to write anything else, it’s always because the commenter actually took the bait, read a blog post (or several) of yours, and made relevant comments.  Your response to those is always self-centered, never mentioning the other person’s blog at all.

Because you aren’t trying to generate a relationship between yourself and your readers.  You’re not trying to change the world with your philosophical leanings on things (I get a lot of “likes” from bloggers who want to be the next Dalai Lama or something).  You’re not even trying to start an exchange of ideas on a particular social problem.

No.  You just want a lot of followers.  Or you want to sell something on your site.  Or maybe both.

Now, look – I don’t “require” that anyone who reads this blog has to comment, or rate it, or “like” it.  I am thrilled to death when I find out anyone has read my blog – really read it, I mean. That’s a huge bonus for me, especially when people I don’t know read it.

So, if you’re reading posts on this blog, thank you!  I hope you enjoy them and you do not need to give me any feedback whatsoever.  This post is definitely not written with you in mind.

No, this post is aimed at people who are shallow and manipulative, and who use the “like” button as a way to lure others to their blog with the misassumption that the blog writer has actually deigned to read someone else’s blog.

Because all they care about is their “stats” – how many read their blog, how many follow them, and so on.

If you have only “liked” a page of mine on this blog you probably don’t know this, but…

…I hate it when people attempt to manipulate me.  And, as a therapist, I catch on to it pretty quickly.

I also have a very low tolerance for self-important blowhards who think that every single thought that pops into their head is worthy of a blog post.

You might think this is hypocritical, coming from someone who writes, in the words of a former friend, a “vanity blog”.

But I don’t actually write every single thing that pops into my head.  I consider long and hard before picking a topic to comment on.  And, nearly always, that topic fits into the area of “what it’s like to be poor in the US”, “how people ought to be kinder to one another”, or “don’t be a jerk when you’re interacting with people who are different from you”.

I write because I want my family and friends to understand what I think.  Some of this is for future family members to read once I have passed on.  Because I wish – so very much – that my deceased family members had written commentary on who they were, what life was like for them, and what life was like in the country in which they lived (US, Ireland, England).

My sisters, my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, my friends who have passed…I wish every day that they had recorded their thoughts and feelings for the rest of us to read, even if it was just a diary.

It’s not a crazy leap of logic to think that some future generation of my family might want to read what I thought and felt.

So, Mr and Ms Self-Important Blogger/Website owner (that almost sounds like the opening for a Bud ad in the “Real Men of Genius” series, doesn’t it?)…

Um anyway, got sidetracked (loved those ads!).

Ok so look, I know you’ll do what you want anyway – if you even read this far – but I just wanted to vent and tell you that at least one person knows what a complete dick you are for using the “like” button in this manner.

To the rest of you, I hope you enjoy the Bud ad!  And again, thanks for reading my blog!


Small World, Small Minds

Note: I started my volunteer gig on Monday.  My very first day, I sort of got in trouble for reporting a problem that the “powers that be” subsequently told me wasn’t a problem.  

So, I am going to avoid situations where the “not-a-problem” comes up, in order to stay clean if the shit hits the fan.  Because I take these kinds of “not-a-problem” things really seriously and will not risk my reputation – such as it is – for social reasons and to “get along”.  

Yesterday I atoned for it by repackaging 160 bags of candy for resale.  And was chatty and pretended to like being bossed around by 80 year old women who get sarcastic and mean if things are not done “just so”.

I marveled at the fact that they were able to sit and stand for much longer periods of time than I was. Physically, these first days were hard on me.  The walk to the bus stop to go home is uphill and difficult.  I fell asleep both days during the hour-long trip on the bus going home.

Thankfully, I have today off.

Today’s blog post is about something that happened last week on the van…

I recently wrote a blog post called “Free Garbage is Still…Garbage”, in which I mentioned that many people do not understand how poor folk live in America.  I was writing mainly about people who have never “been there”, people who never think about unpleasant things like hunger and poverty, or people who basically think that being poor is self-inflicted.

Well, I ran into another representative of a group of people who like to complain about people who live on disability – that small but vocal percentage of people who are on disability themselves, but who deserve it!  Because they’re really sick!  They really can’t work!

But those “other” lazy bums, they can!  It’s not right!

I was riding the senior van to a facility, going to my volunteer gig orientation.  A very obese man sat in a wheelchair behind me and started the conversation with, “I used to be in a workfare program, and they were supposed to hire me at the job I worked after 2 years, but after 4 years I hadn’t been hired so I demanded that they hire me!”

“Uh oh,” thought I, “a real charmer.”

“Of course,” he continued, “they said why should they hire me when they can get welfare to pay me?”

By now I am rolling my eyes.  Because you just know that no one said any such thing.

Aside #1: It may have actually been true, but I don’t think they would have told him that to his face – that kind of stuff results in lawsuits.

So he was embellishing somewhat, ok.  We all do it sometimes.

“But then I got arthritis,” he said, “and I couldn’t work.”

He paused, then angrily stated, “It doesn’t matter anyway, because you have to know someone or be related to someone in order to get a job here.  I even went to go see the guy I used to caddy for, and told him I needed a job, but he wouldn’t hire me!  I told him he could either hire me, or pay my way through his social security payments!”

Yeah, because that will surely convince someone to give you a job.

Aside #2: Again, there is some truth to the idea that, in provincial Altoona and in the even more provincial surrounding small towns, you have to know someone/be related to someone to get a job. Mostly because everyone around here is related to someone, or knows someone who is connected to them in some way, who is in a position to hire them/give them a reference (or talk unkindly about them being a troublemaker, in my case).

He was on a roll now. “But you know what makes me so mad?  All these bums on social security who say they can’t work because they have drug and alcohol problems.  They just have to set their minds to not using or drinking, and go back to work!  They’re just lazy!”

Ding ding ding – hot button pushed, right there.

“Now wait a minute,” I objected, “people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol do have a hard time holding a job.  They have a problem that needs to be addressed.”

“Yeah, but it’s all in their heads!  They could work if they wanted to!” he argued.

I sighed.  “You would agree that these substances affect your brain, right?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

“And you would agree that your brain is the thing you think with?  So these substances cause an impairment in the way people think,” I tried to explain.

“Exactly!” he beamed.  “That’s why they can just set their minds to not doing it anymore, and go to work!”

I gave up.  He clearly wasn’t going to get it.  I tried another tactic.

“Welfare and social security fraud is only at about 2%, that’s less than just about at any other government program.  So it’s not that many people,” I stated.

“I know TONS of guys who just sit around all day.  Why, just look at THEM!”  He pointed to 3 guys crossing the street.  They were all about 30, I guess, and were not white.

“Do you know them?” I asked.

“Well, no, but they should be at work!” he exclaimed.

Ok, this guy was just not going to get it.  He has decided that any minority person who is ambulatory and “doesn’t look sick” is just scamming the system.  People like him never seem to change.

So I dropped the subject and stared out the window at the scenery, annoyed.

With all the problems this guy has – health being the major one – he is worried about people he thinks might be taking advantage of the opulent living we on social security disability have?

But he himself is on social security disability.  Surely he knows this ain’t no “high-on-the-hog” living.

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor…

…no, on second thought, please don’t.  I am tired and poor enough for at least 2 people.

This week has been busy – I am ramping up to become more active, both in the community and just in general.

I was feeling somewhat guilty asking Nancy Downstairs for rides; even though she has never complained, or even said “no”, her schedule is so draining and I can see how tired she is.  I decided I needed to get out more on my own, without taking the senior van all the time (too expensive).

I decided to start taking the bus.

There is a bus stop at the end of my block – close enough so that, on some days, I can walk there with minimal effort.  I still need to use my cane, but that’s ok.

The bus that stops here goes to the courthouse, a small grocery store, and downtown Hollidaysburg, then heads out to Altoona – Walmart, the local shopping mall, and all the way downtown to the Transit Center (basically a large bus stop where you can transfer to other buses).  It takes about 1 1/2 hours to get from my house to the Transit Center.

It’s a relatively easy system to travel on, with one exception: Central PA has a “thing” about crosswalks.  Meaning, they don’t have many.

Drive anywhere in Altoona, in particular, and you’ll see street after street with a sign that has a pedestrian with a circle and a line across it – no crossing here.  It’s on nearly every street corner.

And, yes, I have spoken to at least 3 people who have gotten tickets for jaywalking.  The cops really don’t like to see people crossing where they aren’t supposed to.

But the thing is, it makes it really hard to ride the buses, or indeed even to walk anywhere.

A good example of this is my bank.  On Monday, instead of asking Nancy Downstairs to take me to the nearest bank, I decided to take the bus.  I realized I could take the bus to my closest bank branch in Altoona – about a 20 minute ride – but…

…I had no way of getting back.

Ok, that’s not strictly true – I could have gotten back by standing at the same bus stop at which I disembarked, then have ridden the bus further into Altoona and to the Transit Center, where I would have sat on the bus and waited for it to then head off towards Hollidaysburg.

Total trip time: about 2 hours, not including “waiting-for-the-bus-to-come” time.

And it’s all because there is no way of crossing the street (Plank Rd/Pleasant Valley Rd, for those of you who might be familiar).

So…my alternate plan was to go to the branch of my bank that actually had a crosswalk.  That took me nearly to the Transit Center anyway, but at least I managed to get off the bus, cross the street to the bank, do my business, walk a few blocks and catch the same bus on the other side of the street when it headed back – not such a long wait.

But a fairly taxing walk for someone with no lumbar disks.

By the time I got back home, I was pooped.

Yesterday, I took the bus to get my hair cut, and came home.

Total bus time (including waiting) – an hour.  Total fare – $1.50

So, not so bad.  Had I taken the senior van, the wait may have been shorter but it would have cost me $6.  Again, though, I came home very tired.

Today I decided to pick up something at the mall I had bought – why pay for shipping? – but miscalculated.   The ride to the mall was ok, but the store…that was at the opposite end of the mall and I was not having a particularly “spry” day.  That took me a very long time, and was very tiring.

I expect this to get better, though.

After all, when I lived in Dublin 15 years ago, I thought my feet were going to fall off my legs, they hurt so much from all the walking I did.

I lost 5 dress sizes in less than a year.

Of course, my back was ok then.  But I think the stamina issue is similar.  My back will probably continue to cause me issues, but I think as I walk more – I hope so, anyway – it will get easier.

I think I just need to know my limitations.

Tomorrow, I am going to the local hospital to meet the volunteer coordinator.  The Senior Companion Program has assigned me there.  My idea is to take the senior van to the hospital ($3 and half an hour), then take the bus home (.75 and almost 2 hours) – I can’t afford to volunteer, otherwise.

But I am bringing my cane, because the last thing I want to do is give the impression that I can stand for prolonged periods of time or do other things that I cannot do right now.  I hate that, but when I expressed that to Nancy Downstairs, and said, “I hate giving the impression I am disabled”, she said…

“But you are.”

And she’s right.  I am a person with a disability.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and pretending otherwise just results in misunderstandings and a lot of pain/fatigue for me.

It is not my defining characteristic, as it isn’t anyone’s defining characteristic.  This is one of those “talk the talk, walk the walk” experiences now.

I realize that 15 years is a long time ago, and having flat lumbar disks is also a factor that wasn’t in play then…but I feel as if I have to try.   Like anything in my life (my former marriage, for example), I have to give it all I’ve got before I decide to throw in the towel and give up.

Or, in this case, not exactly “give up”, but “adjust”.  There’s nothing wrong with that, as I am not one of those “you create your own reality” lunatics who think every issue in life – from health to finances to relationships – is something you can just “visualize” better and poof! so it is.

That’s kind of funny coming from a Wiccan, isn’t it?

But even I know that there is no spell that can make my disks grow back – magick just doesn’t work that way.

So, anyway…changes.  Attempts.  Adjustments.  And hopefully, a schedule at the hospital that doesn’t involve more than 3 days/week, because honestly I think that’s all I can handle right now.

Today’s weirdness comes from CBS, and it’s a story about a giant inflated jack-o-lantern that caught a gust of wind and bounced down the highway:

“Caught on Video: Arizona Drivers Dodge Giant Inflatable Pumpkin” (CBS News website, 10/30/15).   It just made me giggle.

Recommendation for this week is a 2-part movie (I guess it was originally on TV) called “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”, based on the book by Mitch Albom (“Tuesdays with Morrie”).  I liked it because it stars Jon Voight, who was terrific.  Sure, the movie is kind of sappy, with emotional music and some tired platitudes but…

…what you do affects others, sometimes (many times) in good and wonderful ways of which you are oblivious.  This is something I tried to get across to patients/clients who thought their lives were meaningless, who thought they had no impact on anyone else except in bad ways.

People underestimate how much a kind word, a smile, a small kindness can mean to another person.  I will blog more about that at some point, but it’s a mistake to discount the impact one human being can have on another.  This movie points that out.

Be good.  Be kind.  What you do really does matter.