Finding Your Feet, A Legacy

December 1, 2023 at 12:00 a.m.
Margaret Larson, long-time national journalist, retired after hosting KING 5’s “New Day Northwest” for 10 years. Photo courtesy KING 5.
Margaret Larson, long-time national journalist, retired after hosting KING 5’s “New Day Northwest” for 10 years. Photo courtesy KING 5. Margaret Larson

Here we are at the holidays and the world is on fire, with peace and goodwill often hard to find. No wonder so many kids and grandkids find themselves adrift and anxious. They’re looking to us for some guidance and, at 65, I’m wondering where to find it myself.

As an optimist by nature, when these thoughts occupy me, I (eventually) remember how to get my feet back under me. I’ve been scrolling through my memories to reconnect with sources of comfort and inspiration. Specifically, I thought about a truly delightful presentation I attended years ago at the University of Washington to hear from Robert Muller, a 40-year veteran of the United Nations. 

Robert Muller, who devoted his life to world peace, served at the United Nations for 40 years. Photo courtesy Dave Mason, Santa Barbara News-Press.


Robert Muller was no slouch. Muller was instrumental in creating the World Food Program and the UN Development Program among many others. He drew on his experience as a survivor of World War II in Nazi-occupied France and his own time as a refugee in his career advocacy for peace. He served as assistant to three United Nations Secretaries-General. And he wrote more than a dozen books in various languages, often on the topics of hope and happiness. I was expecting a dire assessment of the world from him. But he was delightful, full of wonder at the resiliency of human beings, and decidedly sprightly in his outlook.

In the Q & A, a man stood up, looking pained, and recited a sad list of the world’s biggest problems (this went on for a while) and then asked Muller, ‘What are we supposed to do? I mean, WHAT?’ Without a pause, Muller asked the man, ‘Did you pick up the trash on your way to work today?’ He explained that no one is designed to absorb the world’s anguish, but we are by no means helpless. His point was deceptively simple, that we could all draw strength from just looking around our immediate vicinity and doing what was needed. After all the awfulness and suffering he’d seen in his life, his mind and heart were attuned to the opposite. To me, it was profound, a deep lesson in reframing one’s thinking, something that is free and available to all of us. Something we can pass on as a legacy. Eventually, I acquired one of those grabber tools to make this whole quirky endeavor a bit easier. Each time I go out to pick up trash, it’s like a little meditation and the instant gratification can’t be beat. After that literal pick-me-up, I often regain my forward momentum and can model it for the younger people in my life.

So, as we head through our holidays and into the New Year, my prayer is that we find our feet. Think of it as a tribute to Robert Muller. And to Dr. Seuss, who wrote something life-changing on the topic of feet in his classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. He told us, ‘You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’

Let’s choose kindness. And hope. Not just for ourselves, but as a way of holding the door open for the young ones behind us. 

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