Another Year of Thinking Sustainably

How are your resolutions coming?

Are you on the road to being healthier, wealthier and wiser in 2011?

We’re talking about sustainability in the human sense here. Our own sustainability.

It’s not only the Bay we need to sustain in health and productivity. Small as each of us humans is, we count too in the big picture of Earth’s sensitively calibrated and mysteriously linked ecosystems. So we’re included in Bay Weekly’s theme of sustainable living.

Good thing, since the ways we sustain ourselves is never far from my mind or story list.

As we learned (more likely relearned) in our holiday Giving Guide last month, our natures drive toward self-actualization, the height of psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierearchy of needs. Working to be our best in our world and for our world, that’s one kind of sustainability.

We don’t fly to that lofty peak. We climb there step by step.

That climb has been the theme of our stories this new year, starting with What Goes Around, Comes Around, Margaret Tearman’s January 6 look at how neighbors are improving our world — and one another’s lives. Those small acts of generosity look larger when we think of them as self-actualizing for both giver and taker.

Last week, we looked at expanding our natures in another guise. Jane Elkin’s story Playing Sick wasn’t about making excuses but about making ourselves through what we do. Actors Dianne Hood and Edd Miller get to live two lives: one by playing for fun, in community theater, and the second by playing for real, in using their talents in impersonation to teach medical professionals how to treat their patients in, yes, self-actualizing ways.

The same theme plays out in the lives of the young artists of the Annaolis and Anne Arundel Boys & Girls Club whose work is now showing at BayWoods retirement community in Annapolis, courtesy of people who’ve climbed the mountain toward self-actualization and now want to help others climb up.

Self-actualization is the theme picked up by reader Deede Miller (whose letter you’ll read below), for it’s the continuing goal as an art therapist working with people with mental illnesses.

This week, you’ll encounter that same theme in another, different guise. In this week’s pages, you’ll find Teresa Chambers’ story of perseverance. Don’t imagine for a moment that Chambers, our neighbor in Dunkirk, would have been restored to chief of the U.S. Park Service Police — the job taken from her almost eight years ago — without amazing tenacity. Round after round, Chief Chambers endured blows to her self-esteem for justice’s sake. In that long fight, hope must have gone under cover. But hope proved triumphant, as Margaret Tearman recounts in this happy sequel to one of her first stories for Bay Weekly, way back in 2005.

That’s quite a comeback, well timed in January, the month of resolutions, the month that’s so fresh that once again we let ourselves believe in change. 

Midway through the month, I’m writing in the shadow of Martin Luther King Jr., who led our nation, need by need, up the mountain of self-actualization. Thinking of him on our nation’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I retooled my resolutions, vowing to make my heart home to a little more tolerance.

So I’m curious about how your resolutions are coming. Curious enough to write a story about them — if you tell me.

P.S. Sustainability has not been a virtue of my email of late. Gremlins are still playing tricks with my inbox. If you think I’m ignoring you, write again. Your message may have been lost or never even received.