Friday, August 24, 2007

Passages...a week of transitions

Part of family history is the passage of time, people moving into and out of your life. Memories are precious, yet memories can command your thoughts during a week of transition. One of my former co-workers in Nashville passed away unexpectedly. My boss welcomed a new baby into the world. And, my uncle, John Herzog, passed away last weekend.

Sadly, the last time I saw him was at my Uncle Alex's funeral. While I grew up in Wisconsin, Uncle Johnny, lived in Michigan. I distinctly remember his family's visits to my hometown during the summer months. He always visited in summer and I enjoyed playing with his children, Andy, Laura and Paul.

What strikes me most is that my uncle, who was closest in age to my mother, was someone I did not know as well as my other aunts and uncles. His photo in his obituary certainly showed the same happy and open face, yet was it truly 20 plus years since I saw him? Where did the time go? What memories and stories did he have about our family? Just how fast is 20 years?

Families change and times change. Now my mother is the sole survivor of her immediate family: six brothers, 2 sisters, only one surviving sister-in-law. The next generation has taken its place as the leaders. Can we slow it down? No, but we can choose how we respond to it. We can choose whether we rush to the end of our lives, or we savor each moment.

My weekend plan is to slow down and savor. I will dive into my latest reading material: In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore. I have read only to page 25, but I have found a comrade in my belief that the corporate speed of money making, multi-tasking and maximizing profits can pound us into an oblivion which is not our true purpose on earth.

Symptomatic of the SPEED expectation is the discussion of meal preparation. Is faster, cheaper food really better? Has the world not recognized the damage of rushing our food? If we eat better now than 40 years ago, why are so many people overweight? I will not find all of the answers this weekend but I am ready to start. We need to reverse this trend otherwise our legacy to our children will be SPEED at any cost.

Certainly we cannot stop the passage of time. However, we can make differences in small somewhat subtle ways. If you want to slow down, learn more about and enjoy the people around you while you have your chance, check out this web site:

Can our society learn to slow down? I, for one, want to give it a try. Joy and gratefulness in the moment can lead the way to ease the transitions, both the births and the losses.

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