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A Perspective on Memory

Memory is a strange and interesting thing.  The mind has a fascinating way of protecting us from that which is too painful to recall and embellishing the things that warm our hearts.  And just when you think you’ve got each category all worked out and filed away…someone from your past sends you a message on Facebook.

I am not one of those people who remained close with all my friends from childhood.  Quite the opposite really.  Not because I didn’t have good friends – because I did.  I have good memories and bad – like everyone else.  We all have happy thoughts from our youth – and nobody escapes childhood unscathed.

The invention of Facebook has created an interesting problem for people like me – who approach each fork in life’s road as a new chapter, leaving places – and often people – behind.  Slowly – as the world becomes more public and interconnected – the past has a way of creeping up in the rear view mirror.  Clearly not learning the lesson that “objects may be closer than they appear”…suddenly it’s upon you. Slam.

I have a tendency to be conservative in my acceptance of “friend” requests on Facebook.  It has always seemed odd to think I’d want to be cyber friends with someone I don’t even want to have coffee with.  But last week, I got a message that warmed my thoughts about the possibilities of re-connecting with the world that shaped who I’d become.  It read exactly like this:


I am trying to figure out if you are the Stephanie from Northeast Elementary. I was in Ithaca from ‘78 to ‘81. I knew a Stephanie in 3rd-5th grade who had French Lop bunnies. She used to hypnotize them by covering their eyes and flipping them on their backs. It was so funny because it looked like they were sleeping. Is this the same Stephanie?


First, it made me laugh out loud – but then it made me think.

It made me think about how we remember the humans we encounter and the impact we have on each other’s lives.  It made me think about how we work so hard to make a specific “mark” on the world or leave a “determined” legacy — but in reality…it’s some small, seemingly inconsequential action that becomes indelible.  It’s the things we do when we’re not even trying that illustrate our genuine nature and human quality.  Are we kind to animals and strangers?  Do we reach out to friends and forgive enemies?  Are we generous with our gifts – even when they are few?

I guess my Grandmother was right – character is who you are when you think nobody’s looking.   And so it is.  Yes, I am the 8-year-old girl who loved her French Lop bunnies and made my friends laugh. The question remains — do I live up to that image as an adult?  Thanks for the reminder that there is always someone looking.

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