Gary and I were talking this morning and for some reason the conversation turned to a place we used to live. And then to a couple of people who lived there…and then my mind wandered down memory lane.
As you may recall, I’ve moved 51 times. Difficult for me to recall sometimes without my list. I tend to think of the past in terms of places and houses, but those places have all had people who were friends and neighbors and co-workers for however brief a time. And I can assure you that even some of the people I have encountered for just a few months have made a difference in my life and in who I have become. That should be an encouraging yet sobering reality for all of us.
As a teacher I spend a lot of time contemplating my own influence on others. I know that I am not beloved by all of my students or parents. Perhaps I’m not even favored by some of my colleagues. It’s a fact of life that we can agree to disagree with people and still work together. Most adults have also learned that you can like some things about a person while wishing other things about them were different. But whether you love a person, merely tolerate them, or something in between, each makes a difference in your life. I think that’s an important concept to understand.
As I think back to some of the people in my earliest years the first thing that occurs to me is that many of those people opened up my mind and heart to a much bigger world. Our neighbor from Germany with her stories of the war, our landlord from Italy with his strange eating habits, our neighbor from Ohio with his huge collection of National Geographic Magazines, and our employee from Mexico with his dozen children taught me that California was not the center of the universe. The values and ideas of other people make us question our own. The experiences of others help us to understand our own with a better perspective.
I could go on and on, but I think you understand the idea. Each of us is affecting the life and experience of someone else with every single encounter of each and every day. While not all of them will remain in our memory or theirs, each makes a tiny difference. I’m convinced of that. I think our response to that should be to treat each other better.
Be aware that we are making memories.