Bartlett---Bear-Notch-Road-Fall-Foliageby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and the Boston City Paper, 9/2012

“I need to tell you that you’re going to remember this night for the rest of your lives. It’s going to be a long night and we need you to work fast and we need you to work well. But once in a while, take three seconds — you can’t spare more than that — take three seconds to notice where you are and what you’re doing.” — Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), “The Newsroom,” HBO

Greetings Foxboro! We’re deep into the time of year where the kids are back to school or starting college, people are starting new jobs, and the so-called lazy days of summer (although they really are not) are fading into memory.

It seems so strange that we were just planning for Founders Day, or getting excited about the Red Sox upcoming opening day. And now, the leaves are starting to turn, it’s getting darker earlier, and the summer is a blur, and (YAY!) the Pats regular season is starting.

And while this one may seem a little sugary, or {shudder} “Gillis being overly sentimental,” it’s from the heart (as usual) and I have been thinking that “Charlie Skinner’s” advice is pretty good (although adjusted for a more reasonable ten seconds). I have been trying to embrace it lately, to wit:

I’m on my way to work and I’m tired and cranky; a typical Monday, but I take ten seconds and remind myself that I am gainfully employed, do interesting work, and like the people I work with.

I’m in church Sunday morning and the same person as always has let his cell phone go off for the fourth time. And as much as I want to do something very un-Christian to his phone involving a hammer, I take ten seconds and remind myself we all forget our phones, and he’s in church, experiencing the community, and hopefully our evil eyes will get the message across to him.

I’m on FaceBook and see that a friend is still hurting from a loss, and I take ten seconds and write something encouraging on her FaceBook page.

I see all the kids starting school for the first time, the nervous parents, the thrill and fright of the new adventure, and I take ten seconds and remember my first days of school, so long ago. A part of me envies them, and part of me is glad I am where I am. It’s a nice little moment.

I’m walking Castle Island and I take ten seconds and enjoy the sea air, the beauty of the area, and how good the walk feels.

And on a more serious note, I take a few minutes and reflect on how grateful I am to see people of color on Castle Island. It’s a sign of better times when the city-wide racism I recall — even as recent as my high school days — is vanishing, allowing everyone — not just white people — to enjoy this beautiful park.

I’m on Foxboro Common volunteering with my friends and working a camera for Foxboro Cable Access, filming the concerts. And amid the “stand by camera 2,” and, “can we get a close-up of the guitar,” I take ten seconds and realize how grateful I am to live in a community that has this great cable TV studio, where anyone can volunteer and learn so much and play with these “tech toys.” I encourage you to try it.

At another concert, I work the Jaycee membership booth and I take ten seconds and reflect on what a life-changing and excellent decision it was to join this amazing group and help the community. I am proud of the work I have done, and to be associated with, the Foxboro Jaycees and encourage you to check them out.

I’m passing by the farm stand and I take ten seconds and think of my old friend Bob Shea, who was so instrumental in the stand’s early days, and how happy he would be to know that all these years later it still flourishes and helps so many people, thanks to the all the wonderful volunteers.

I’m driving around Foxboro Common and I take ten seconds and realize how much “at home” I feel every time I see that Foxboro sign and that beautiful common. I love this town.

My nephew, now 16, is deep in learners permit territory and I take ten seconds to be grateful that I was the first to take him onto the highway, and marvel how well he handles a car — he’ll be a good driver. As we go out each time I take ten seconds and just watch how this young man, like a son to me, is so confident behind the wheel and I tell him how proud I am of him.

I take another ten seconds and explain to him that there is no such thing as a “bad math gene” and he needs to work harder at math and stop using a math-incapable uncle as an excuse.

I get depressed about this or that and I take ten seconds to remind myself that I don’t go to bed hungry, and I take another minute or so to resolve to donate more food to the food pantry.

I take ten seconds and realize I’m taking some of the people in my life for granted and realize I need to do better with them.

I’m complaining about the price of food but I take ten seconds and remind myself what a miracle it is to have this incredible variety of food in these amazing supermarkets.

The waitress is distracted but I take ten seconds and see that the restaurant is crowded, and short-staffed, and she’s on her feet all day and doesn’t need another cranky customer, so I tip her 20% anyway.

My wife is in the ER with severe bronchitis and I take ten seconds to be so grateful that medical care in this region is excellent, how grateful I am for antibiotics, and the resiliency of the human body and spirit.

I hear that hurricane Isaac is approaching Louisiana and I take ten seconds to say a prayer and have good thoughts for them, and later I take ten seconds to be thankful that Isaac was not another Katrina.

I take ten seconds and remember our two power-outages last year, and reflect how this town came together, and smile as I realize that as fractured as we can be, we unite when it counts and take care of each other.

I hear about the record arrests and custodies at Country Fest and I take ten seconds to publicly thank Chief O’Leary and his amazing force for keeping order and keeping us safe. They do an amazing job. I take another ten seconds to send a shout-out to Chief Hatfield and his department, and all the EMTs and emergency workers in town — God bless all of you.

I get frustrated by all the negativity as the presidential race ramps up and I take ten seconds to remind myself we live in a democratic and free nation, a country that while far from perfect, gets it more right than wrong, and is still growing. I take another ten seconds to be grateful that we still live in a free society where we vote for our leaders. And I would encourage you to VOTE this November. No matter what your politics or beliefs, apathy changes nothing. VOTE.

And finally, before I get all Yanni on you, I would just encourage you to take ten seconds and look around. You’ll be amazed what you see if you just stop and look. Your life is incredible, and I encourage you to stop existing and start living — even ten seconds at a time. End of speech.

(Pastor Bob has left the building)

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