Musings About Memories

I have been awash in memories for the past few weeks.  One influence that has led to this circumstance was an article I read that reflected on this kind of question: When one loses one’s memory, does one lose one’s (sense of) self?  This question remained foremost in my mind such that I was motivated to do some Internet research about that very question.  While there are variations in scholars’, researchers’, and medical professionals’ positions on the place of memory, there would seem to be unanimity that memory is one of the core dimensions of personal identity. 

I have had that confirmed in my own life in the past few weeks.  One of my Jesuit contemporaries, whom I have not seen in many years, is gravely ill with cancer at the moment.  As it turns out, many of us who were together in our early adulthood years as young Jesuits have reached out to our friend with prayers and good wishes although our life paths have diverged dramatically over the years.  Almost universally, the sentiments expressed involve shared experiences, shared memories.  Most of the experiences recounted are ones about which I had not given any thought for years, in fact had thought I had forgotten.  Yet I had certainly not forgotten; the memories had a profoundly positive spiritual impact for me.  Gratitude was at the core of my response.  And now we are anxious to renew connections even more. 

On a more global level the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has brought to mind and heart the central cultural and social memory for my baby boomer generation.  For our students it is not a memory, it is at best history- and distant history at that.  I did the math, and the Kennedy assassination is to our current students as the beginning of World War I was to people my age.  Even the iconic and tragic events of September 11, 2011, occurred before almost all of our current students were born.  How different are the perspectives on memories from generation to generation.     

Another powerful personal experience of memory was a message I received recently from a former student.  He in turn had recently connected with another of my former students at the same school.  They reminisced about- among other things- yours truly.  The details of those reminiscences are very meaningful and powerful for me.  My friend concluded his message with the following sentiment: “It’s a small world isn’t it?  Life’s circumstances conspire to produce memory snapshots that serve as a reminder of those special people who have richly blessed our lives, who seemingly have come and gone, but we now see have never left.”  I cannot say it any better than that. 

By their nature memories have staying power.  If we are to be enriched for the long term by happy memories, we have to help create them.  Here’s hoping that the Thanksgiving holiday will provide an opportunity for each reader to do just that.

Until next time… 

My best,

Leo

Friday Afternoons

I am a list-maker.  This really helps me stay organized and accountable.  I keep an old school At-a-Glance Daily Calendar on my desk.  Each afternoon I assess how well I did at crossing items off my list and then compose the list for the following day.  I confess that some items have lingered on the list far longer than they needed, but by and large this practice has assisted me in being more efficient, conscientious, and thorough.

Yesterday it dawned on me that I had not blogged for a few weeks and so I added that item to my calendar list for today.  Usually I put the word “blog” on the calendar because I already have a topic in mind- not so in this case.  Now, as late afternoon has arrived, “blog” has not been crossed off the list.  And I do not plan to leave my office until it has been.

Lengthy pause…

Success in life, career, and education is incremental and emerges only over time.  I understand and accept that reality, but I also have a strong need for moments of completion and closure.  Friday afternoon in a school, as quiet descends on campus, provides a weekly opportunity for just that kind of moment.  So I happily have taken some extra time to reflect more thoroughly on the events of this past school week.  The very act of reflection, done more carefully by me today than on most Friday afternoons, inspired a clearer sense of the richness of the past week.  The list of important moments- personal and professional- is a lengthy one: What a richly textured and blessed life I have been given.  So I head into the weekend with the sense of completion and closure on another wonderful week at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School.

And I also head into the weekend with a smile on my face.  I am completing this blog entry so late that my “Friday afternoon” musings won’t be posted until Monday morning!    

Until next time…

My best,

Leo