Dear George Bailey,
This year, for Christmas, I want a pool in Rutland, VT.
I know, I know. You’re not Santa Claus. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I wrote to Santa Claus. In truth, I am not certain I ever have. But, it’s Christmas! Letter writing and list making about the things you want seems to go with the territory. As I was thinking about it, I realized that I didn’t want to write to Santa about this particular wish. It seems to me that I could really use your help, instead.
I suppose I could just write it on a list and drop it in a bright red mailbox and send it to Santa. But if I got that wish that way, what would I really have? An indoor aquatic center. All to myself. I’m not sure that many people would use it. I’m not sure that anybody would realize the benefit. People wouldn’t just automatically arrive. Swim teams wouldn’t pop up the day the doors opened. Community doesn’t happen because it suddenly has a place.
Every year, I watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Every year, I’m reminded that a single life has a huge impact, really makes a difference, even changes the world. That kind of change doesn’t happen overnight with a wish come true. It took you years of building. Years of staying. Years of work – long, hard, sometimes thankless work. It’s not particularly glorious, but you’re a hero to all of the people who mattered most.
Oh, and wasn’t it worth it? Wasn’t it all worth it in the end? To know, with such certainty, all the good you did? All the lives you touched? Because you built something. You built it, over time, ever so diligently, and in people first. That’s where these things always begin; on the inside. The inside of passionate, devoted dreamers. The heart of a good, honest, hard working man.
I think, maybe – that’s what Rutland needs. Not Santa Claus. Not something instant. Not a dream come true. I think, George Bailey, that we need somebody a little more like you.
So I’m asking you. For a pool. For Rutland. Because you’ll build it, George Bailey. You’ll build one.
From the inside out.
And that’s just what we need.