You can take the boy out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the boy. That was true back in the days of my youth in the '30 and '40, and I believe it is still true today. One thing I learned back then, and it is still relevant, listening to others and reading what others have to say, is the doorway through which we allow the world to enter. Reading and listening may be one of the most dynamic activities in which we engage, for we create much of our perceived reality based upon what we read and observe.

I enjoy reading the newspaper. Normally, I read first, the bold headlines. Then, I scan the local news, check the obituary, turn to the Editorial Page and read the editorial and lead columnists, and the "People's Column." One thing of which I am certain, the contributions made are usually thoughtfully written, deeply felt, and sincerely presented. Generally, they are written from a personal perspective and from the depth of ones' own belief system. Usually, the editorials, the news stories, columnists, and the letters provide this reader with the opportunity to view differing insights, explore a variety of opinions, and grow vicariously from the experiences of others.

Listening to others and reading what others have to say, is the doorway through which we allow the world to enter. How we interpret what we read, and to whom we listen, is a matter of free choice. We have the opportunity to agree or disagree with the authors in each case; that is an independent option. Most of us value that choice and we appreciate the opportunity to do so. Someone once said, "We read to know that we are not alone." What this means to me is that, through reading, we can have interactions with the minds of other people--how they think, what they believe, and what they value. There is something identifying and affirming when we realize that other folks have thought the similar thoughts, endured similar struggles, and are moved by similar aspirations.

There is a degree of satisfaction, through reading from the public press, to have experienced travels far and wide, viewed differing cultures and value systems, and explored other occupations and professions. It is a renewing experience through our reading, to have seen a variety of living styles and societal trends, home and community connections, and a host of gender and age related matters such as eager hopes, thoughtful aspirations, genuine, challenges, unique needs, and unparalleled successes. You know, we grow and we are enhanced by the experiences of others.

Through the years past, I have found, it is not always easy to "fit into someone else's shoes." Today, we hear much about "getting in touch with one's own feelings." But perhaps, we need to really get more in touch with the feeling of others around us. I have found that by being reminded that empathy and appreciating those around us, we enhance our own experiences on life's journey. For you see, I believe that by reading and listening to the views, hopes, and aspirations of others, we are able to illuminate the abundant variety of richness we have all around us. And thus, we build within our earthly journey, the very essence of an understanding that, as we walk life's road and travel life's paths, we are enriched by the realization that in life's journey, we "never walk alone."