By Dale Kimble
I wonder how many of us take the time to sit back and lament upon the virtues of a simple life. Likely it will depend upon where you grew up or your age. I’ve been reflecting upon that myself more recently. The catalyst was a recent trip my wife and I took to Parma, Ohio, where we visited with our son and his family as they had relocated there this summer. It was our first visit to this quiet, sleepy community which is the largest suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Especially interesting to me was the fact that it is home to a diverse immigrant population and has been frequently ranked as one of the nation’s safest cities.
Surprisingly, I felt like I had traveled back in time. During our visit, we experienced contact with many businesses that were decades old – some having served the community for forty plus years; small proprietorships had been operated by the same family for multiple generations. We found the tree-lined, tight-knit blue collar neighborhoods of Parma to be made up of gracious and simple people who had often lived in the same home for decades. As I had the opportunity to relax and casually chat with these folks, it became apparent to me that this was a community of people where one could easily fit right in. It’s a place where family and friends lend a helping hand; a place where you were met with a smile and addressed by name. A warm handshake, hug, and friendly greeting were the rule instead of the exception. There was an almost immediate sense of belonging because the essence and beauty of Parma came from the people.
Can you remember such a feeling of community … perhaps from your youth? It appears to me that we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget that simple is good and often yields a better quality of life. So frequently it becomes about the house, the car, the job, the kids’ sporting activities and the next vacation spot. Yes, those are a part of our everyday existence, but are they consuming our life? Are we taking the time to enjoy the simple things or as that old cliché says, “taking time to smell the roses”? “More” (materially speaking) is not always better.
On this mini vacation, I was drawn to the goodness of these people. You know what … there is much good around us right here in our own communities, but I suspect sometimes things get so chaotic with life that we fail to notice. Think about your neighbors. Do you even know them or speak with them regularly? What about all of the family businesses within your community, the nonprofits that are working diligently to make life better for those in need, or the dedication and work being done by our amazing educators who teach our children? I encourage you to seek out and look for the best in people, to patronize those businesses and retail establishments that give back and enhance lives within your town or community, and look for those individuals and organizations that support our schools. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You might be surprised at the goodness that’s all around you. One last observation …
Not far from Parma in Holmes County, Ohio, resides the largest concentration of Amish communities in the United States. As we took a much too brief tour through these gently rolling hills with the foliage changing in a gorgeous array of color, it was refreshing to view the simplicity of life among these hard-working Americans. I couldn’t help but marvel, with a slight sense of envy, at the distinct, authentic identity of this cultural group. Watching them as they casually meandered the roads in their horse-drawn carriages (their only mode of transportation), seeing them working the fields with horses and a plow, observing their simple, unadorned appearances, and finally, witnessing the very strong family and community structure; I found all of this to be thought-provoking. They are good people, just like you and me, genuinely trying to enjoy life, liberty, and freedom. While it is certainly a very different life than you and I live, it encourages humility, faith, and a very strong sense of community.
We all seek a high quality life shrouded in everyday kindness, decency to one another, warm-hearted hospitality, loyal friendships, and the love of family. Good old-fashioned values can be a blend of the past and the future.
Dale Kimble, Chief Executive Officer of DATCU Credit Union, can be reached at 866-387-8585.