This past Sunday was the Washington DC ALS Walk – a major get together and fundraiser here in the nation’s capital. After a great deal of uncertainty about the walk’s location because the government shut down closed the Washington Monument grounds, the Congress relented, the Park Service issued the required permits, and the walk took place as scheduled.
It was just a glorious autumn day – bright, sunny, blue skies and crisp temperatures made it a great morning for a stroll with your thousand closest friends. The visible courage of my fellow PALs and the devotion of their families and friends is remarkable.
It was the first real test for my new scooter, and it passed with flying colors – no accidents, no causalities, and no speeding tickets. So I was able to “walk” with all the others.
I was so moved by the number of friends who turned out to walk with the Stuart’s PALS team — so many hugs and kisses and an incredible sense of warmth and support for my family and for me. I am one lucky guy to have such good friends. And I have the pictures to prove it.
And very generous friends – we have exceeded our team fund raising goal and are closing in on $30,000 raised. Thank you all so very much. The funds help support research to find a cause and treatment for ALS, and to help provide support services to patients like me. (If you still want to help, go to www.stuartspals.org and click on the “Donate” button next to my name)
So what attracts all these friends to support me with time, treasure and love? I could congratulate myself for having lived such a perfect life that they all feel a debt for my past kindnesses. But I doubt that my moral ledger is so skewed toward goodness. No, based on what friends tell me, giving family and friends an opportunity to connect with me not only strengthens me from their connection, but also enables them to expand their own human goodness by being able to express their love and concern.
Some neuroscience supports this observation: “in terms of our need for connection, the more that people can have a sense of inclusion or a sense of being seen, or appreciated, or liked or loved; the more that people can cultivate the traits of being compassionate, kind, and loving themselves, the more that they’re going to be able to stay in a responsive mode of the brain, even if they deal with issues in this connection system like being rejected or devalued or left out by somebody else.” (From interview on the Atlantic website with Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist, a member of U.C. Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center’s advisory board, and author of the book Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.)
Or as Gibran expressed it more lyrically in The Prophet:
“Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.”