One of the amazements of life in an urban “village” is that a person about whom you know very little can have such a large effect on your life. That was the case with Astrid. And still is.
Astrid Hagenguth lived one or two floors away for me for many years. I knew her as the upbeat, energetic, always forward-looking neighbor on 12. She was not one of those relentlessly cheerful people whose “can do” air sometimes seems oppressive. We would meet occasionally in the lobby, the laundry room, the elevator. It was not hard to imagine her on visits to her home place (I think it was somewhere in the Berkshires) bicycling around to enlist her neighbors in some project that would make it a better, healthier place.
It was when I was attacking the “black hole” that lives under the kitchen sink that Astrid changed my life forever. In the only time I ever remember her coming through my door, she rang the bell and popped in to tell me of a project she was working on and in which she hoped I might be interested. Seeing the evidence of the purge, she recognized that I had reached the tipping point of bottles, spray cans and containers that somehow multiply like prolific rabbits in a small space where a single container of dish liquid had once been the only inhabitant. Without missing a beat, Astrid said…..almost sang with joy…..”Oh look, you’re making room for your good luck.”
She hurried on…..”When you make physical room, you make psychic room and open the way for the good luck to flow in. Be sure to write down exactly what good outcome you want to have happen. Be sure to be specific.”
As I tried my best to look with new and grateful eyes at the deteriorating can of Comet and the silver polish that had turned to concrete, Astrid launched exuberantly into the story of her friend who was once desperately in need of a new job. Schooled by Astrid, she wrote an exact profile of the ideal job in all its glowing detail. And then, she began disposing of all the “dead wood” in her life and home and wardrobe. The new job, in all its near-perfect form quickly surfaced, perfect in all ways….except geography. The address of the office was a bit dicey. But soon, driven, I feel sure, by the strength of Astrid’s spirit, a high profile game-changer moved into her friend’s office building and the good luck continued in a newly desirable setting.
The Astrid effect happened for me when success with a “virtual company” formula moved me to downsize a bricks and mortar office. When jobs had been secured and colleagues retained or progressed to new ventures, the last hurdle was what to do with years worth of files. With Astrid’s promise echoing in my ears I concluded that the physical evidence of ideas born of the mind and heart could be reborn when needed. And so began the filling of huge canvas dumpers the office building sent to the recyclers. That is not to say I didn’t have some doubts/fears. But as the 13th dumper entered the freight elevator, the phone rang; the newest client set a date for a meeting and the future began.
Frequently, as I repeat her advice, scores of people tell me how the Astrid effect has worked in their lives.
So now that Astrid has gone on to savor the eternal rewards of those who foster hope, I soldier on in the effort to ensure that my home more closely resembles a haven than a badly managed UPS office. I think it’s called “making room for one’s good luck.”
And it’s a great trade off. Put the luxuries of space on one side of the scale and on the other, the astounding benefits of living in a “village” that puts you no more than a public transportation trip away from the best in a heartland of culture, worship, art, education, sports, medical genius, dining, shopping, world class museums, libraries, recreation venues, Frederick Law Olmsted’s crown jewel of a park and of course the good fortune of meeting neighbors like Astrid.
Addendum: Pleasantly surprised by the growing numbers of companies committed to helping their customers and neighbors find a rewarding ”afterlife” for everything from documents to designer wardrobes, we continue the exploration so that we can soon bring you a menu of options for maximizing the “Astrid Effect” using 21st Century ways to make room for your good luck with opportunities for recycling that turn papers and lightly used wardrobes into good luck for people you’ve never met. Hope to be back with good news of good choices, ASAP.
Annette Cunningham’s Street Seens appears on Sunday.