Some 668 new LED bulbs burn at Ninth and I streets in downtown Modesto, where our newly renovated centennial arch proclaims the state of our well-being to passers-by Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health.
I'll be the first to admit that during the last few "dry years" I've been tempted to see the glass half empty, and even poke a little fun of our auspicious motto. In truth, it hasn't been easy to be a Central Valley resident at such a time. Upon reflection, however, I think it's fitting.
Water. Without it none of us could survive the scorching summer heat, and our lawns and gardens would be wasteland. The foresight of the pioneers who found a way to move water into this valley was innovative and ahead of its time. But it had to be. Water is essential for life. Our water is sold all over the world in the form of produce.
Wealth. Lest you think I'm stuck here, I'm not. Besides the obvious blossoming of the arts in Stanislaus County, and the surrounding wealth of agriculture, we have nature's most amazing resource: people. More than 200,000 of them. Wherever there are people, there is wealth. Every individual is a goldmine of possibility. Just step into a gymnastics studio or sneak into a private music recital or better yet, listen to your grandmother tell her history. We still have yet to scratch the surface of Modesto's human potential.
Contentment. Nestled in our town motto is a challenge. It's a "throw your gloves down and have your man at the ready" duel of the spirit. We have crime. We have poverty. But there's an awful lot of hope pouring through those cracked windows to the tune of more than 50 charities and service organizations alone.
And that doesn't count the ordinary neighbor helping out a friend. You know if you're one of them. As one wise friend of mine remarked while handing out different colored popsicles to my kids, "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit."
Health. Vigor of body and community is related to circulation, or so the ancient Chinese believed. All illness is a congestion issue. Stagnation and blockage are deadly; movement heals. This too is a challenge. The best thing we can do for ourselves is move. Walk. Bike. Run. Swim. Much of that can be done outdoors year round. And the sunshine here doesn't cost a dime!
The original suggestion for Modesto's motto was "Nobody's Got Modesto's Goat." If it's all about perspective, I think perhaps the one we have means the same thing.
Maris is a Modesto resident. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.