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Rotary: Is it Time for a Re-Read?

July 21st, 2010

Note: The first Thought Spot was drafted at a bed and breakfast in Kirksville, Missouri a little over two years ago. In appreciation of all of the Rotarians in Kirksville and their special contributions to Rotary International this year, it seems fitting to revisit that first edition as we begin Building Communities and Bridging Continents.

To Kirksville’s Rotarians, and to every Rotarian who leads by example, inspiring others to new perspectives on Service Above Self, thank you. This one is for you.

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.  That will be the beginning.”
                                -Louis L’Amour, Lonely on the Mountain

English was not my father’s first language. 

And like a lot of second language learners, he was an avid reader.  He especially liked Conrad and Melville and read their bodies of work not once but several times during his life.  As a young man, it was not uncommon for him to drop my mother off at her home after a date and head for a neighborhood diner, book in hand, to read and drink coffee until the night waitress closed up and shooed him home. 

 Later in life, he added Louis L’Amour westerns to his list of favorites.  One of the simple and great pleasures of his day was to settle into a comfortable chair in the evening to revisit a favorite read for a second or third time – or more.

 Why did he prefer to re-read, rather than switch to something new?  I asked him once.  His answer, like him, was straightforward but not necessarily simple:  it was a good book the last time, and he got something new from a book every time he read it.  

 Lately it’s occurred to me that my father got something new out of old favorites in part because his insights changed with his life experience.  The books weren’t different but what he brought to them each time was.

 As we enter a new Rotary year, I’ve been thinking about what we each bring to our Rotary experience, both individually as Rotarians and collectively in our clubs.  Beginning a new year brings with it an opportunity for all of us to take a “new read” on Rotary and on our clubs.  

 Are we truly bringing new perspectives to Service Above Self?   Or are we operating from perspectives we’ve always held? 

 Maybe it’s time for a re-read. 

To gain something new from being a Rotarian by bringing something new to the experience.  And like my father reading in the neighborhood diner, we can change our local perspectives and open ourselves up to a whole new world of possibilities. 


PDG Elizabeth

(originally published July 17, 2008)