Thursday, August 23, 2012

Almost Like Looking Through Pictures

He died, what, 4 years ago. She retired. I have no idea who that is. Oh my gosh, I forgot all about her...wonder what she's doing?

With time on my hands and limited brain power, I thought I'd do the task I kept putting off--cleaning out my Gmail Contacts list. I'm shifting from my PC to Apple products, my equivalent of a new house (and almost as expensive as one!), a perfect time to tidy up.

My list goes back a ways, especially if you count the grade school and high school friends I'm still in contact with after, ahem, almost 60 years. My perusal, in a minor sleep-deprived state, gave me food for thought, contemplating deaths of my sis, relatives and friends. Mortality. Rats. But it's there waiting for all of us.

Seeing names of my "old" interns got me wondering about their lives, knowing that spending months in the foreign territory of a homeless shelter is life-changing. I've heard from them over the years, and it's been a delight. So too with former co-workers, those who managed to keep in touch are the ones I still care about (funny how that works!).

Scratch the names or email addresses that left me totally puzzled. If you're one of them, sorry! You can reestablish yourself by sending me email.

The names that caused me to really pause were those whose lives were/are "on the edge." Unfortunately, I'm referring to homelessness. Kinda like our film on the edge: Family Homelessness in America. Knowing that our world has gotten a tad unforgiving, I wondered about my friends who struggled with addiction, health issues, and irregular/inadequate employment.

Mostly I had fond thoughts of the good people I've met along my life's travels. Yeah, having a birthday, 62, always gets me thinking back and looking forward. Fortunately I have the sweet taste of a bunch of recent feedback that reminds me (and, yes, I need reminding!) that my life is filled with purpose, both now and from years back--I savor hearing from former students, like Victoria, who thought I was the best teacher ever--way back when teaching meant getting your hands dirty with chalk and books were paper pages with ink letters held together by a cover.

Would I have ever thought that my life would be so wrapped in technology? Would I ever imagine I could reach out and give a shout to a friend or family member with a few clicks of the keys? That doing research means typing the question and getting the answer almost before your last keystroke.

With all the progress that we've made, and I believe lots of it is for the greater good, why are we vexed with solvable social crises? Have we made such tech progress that our human relations have faded like memories of names in a hodge-podge contacts list?

Take a look at your contact list--and you don't even have to clean it while you're there. Reflect on the names of people who've interacted with you. Take your mental temperature. Does this experience make you happy or sad? Either way, the choice is ours. Look back, look forward, but don't forget where you're standing right now, and realize all the love and effort that went into that miracle.

Makes me look forward to my next 62 (?) years! Hope you can join me!