Edgartown: On Kindness


It’s Sunday night and I’m trying to buckle down and write my column, but as a certified, or maybe certifiable, Olympics nut, I’m having a hard time dragging myself away from the TV — specifically women’s gymnastics — tonight. Though I’m not much of a television sports spectator in general, I have been a devotee of the Olympics since 1972, and I never miss them. I am just so amazed by the talent and perseverance of the athletes. I found this year’s opening ceremonies to be excellent: artistic, moving, and encouraging. Highlights for me so far were the lighting of an incredibly beautiful cauldron, the 41-year-old female gymnast from Uzbekistan, the fact that women make up more than half of the U.S. team, and by far the most amazing thing of all, the first refugee team to compete in the history of the Olympics. If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me in front of my TV more often than not for the next two weeks!

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) in conjunction with the Joseph Jerome Memorial Fund is sponsoring “An Evening with Patrick Kennedy” Friday, August 12, from 7 to 9 pm at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Joseph Jerome Memorial Fund and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services New Paths Recovery Program.

Patrick. J. Kennedy, former congressman and youngest child of Sen. Ted Kennedy, will detail his personal and political battle with mental illness and addiction, exploring mental health care’s history in the country alongside his and every family’s private struggles. Local photographer and mental health advocate Michael Blanchard will introduce the event. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at bit.ly/commserviceskennedy.

The Edgartown library is offering up some science fun on August 12 at 10:30 am. Kids can make a glow-in-the-dark sky chart of the Summer Triangle constellation. And on Tuesday, August 16, at 3 pm, as part of its summer sports series, you can learn about frisbee golf with staff from the Lazy Frog in Oak Bluffs.

Next week brings us what may arguably be the most exciting events on the Island each summer, with Illumination Night on Wednesday, the Ag Fair in West Tisbury, and the fireworks in Oak Bluffs on Friday. After that, we’ll start to see things begin to quiet down a bit as we roll into the end of summer. The time seems to go faster and faster each year. Is that a sign that I’m getting older?

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the rather obvious fact that President Obama and his family are here for vacation. I know it can be challenging and we sometimes get held up by traffic tie-ups, but if you really stop to think about it, it’s pretty amazing. Remember how incredible it was back in the day to see a presidential motorcade? People actually traveled far to see such a thing! I never dreamed I would see such a thing, let alone see it more than once. Love him or hate him, he is the President of the United States. It’s pretty incredible when you look at it strictly through a historical lens.

Tim Burton, a graduate of Edgartown School and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, has for many years been a member of the band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Bosstones are presently on a concert tour of South America, beginning in Rio de Janeiro. Their final stop will be in Mexico City. Tim plays the saxophone.

My Uncle Jimmy invited me along for a biplane ride this morning, piloted by none other than Mike Creato of Classic Aviators. How could I possibly refuse? I haven’t been up in it for a few years, so I was very excited to go along and I wasn’t disappointed. I generally don’t like flying, but there is something about the biplane that brings it to a whole different level. It is such an incredibly magical experience up there in the open cockpit. The houses and cars look like toys, and the view of the ocean is breathtaking. If you’ve never been up and have the opportunity to, I strongly encourage you to do so. Thanks to Uncle Jimmy for including me and to Mike for all your efforts getting us in and out of the plane!

Have you ever noticed how contagious a smile is? I’ve been noticing a lot lately, making sure I make eye contact with people when holding a door for them or when they hold one for me. I find that if there is a little traffic jam of people in a doorway or aisle at the store, a simple smile and “excuse me” or “I’m sorry,” even when I may not feel that I’m at fault, usually results in a smile from the others involved. And it costs me nothing. I’m trying hard to not get ruffled in August. It’s not always easy. We see some pretty crazy stuff on this Island this time of year. But I just keep trying to keep my perspective. If all else fails, I try to remember the tried and true test of a situation: How much is this going to matter a year from now? Usually, the answer is not at all.

Have a great week and throw kindness around like confetti.

Every action taken by human beings is based in love or fear … Fear is the energy which contracts, closes down, draws in, runs, hides, hoards, harms. Love is the energy which expands, opens up, sends out, stays, reveals, shares, heals. Every human thought, word, or deed is based in one emotion or the other. You have no choice about this, because there is nothing else from which to choose. But you have free choice about which of these to select.

Neale Donald Walsh