There are people that pass through your life that shape who you are and how you’ve become who you are; a few for the worse, most for the better. Even the ones who negatively impact you often improve your life as they become the cautionary tales.
Living in a small province like Nova Scotia and a small city like Halifax, it’s very likely you’ll see each other again at some point.
I’m thinking of this for a few reasons this week. It is coming up to the Holiday Season, with hope and joy and possibly even Peace on Earth on our minds. Time to mend fences, build bridges, start anew, put your best foot forward, learn from your past, put your big girl pants on (big boy pants I presume work the same way.)
Another reason ‘you are who you meet’ is on my mind is that I saw this past weekend one of those teachers from my school days – you know the ones. The one or two, or in my case seven, that I’ve never forgotten; whose story I’ve told, whose lessons (and I don’t mean English) I learned, who probably didn’t even realize the incredible impact they had on their students. It made my day; heck, it made my week to see Mrs. J. She was and is vibrant, independent, fun and funny; and back in the late 70’s we girls saw her as the kind of woman we could be. Single and making her own way in the world, undaunted and unfettered, Mrs. J made us actually feel the liberation movement making its’ way into suburban Halifax. I had to hug her when I saw her. There are a lot of very real success stories, personal and professional, coming from our era of J.L. Ilsley High – and many of those can be in some way attributed to the role models that she and a few other teachers were to us. I sure hope she heard my sincere Thank You.
I lately met another woman I knew slightly many years ago. Her lessons must have been tough ones. I remembered her as a sweet sunny girl, and felt badly for the hard woman she is now. In turn, I have been shaped by my recent encounter with her; cautionary tales indeed.
Lastly, I watched the movies Before Sunrise (1994) and Before Sunset (2004) last week, sequentially. If you haven’t watched them, do. In essence, two young people through a chance meeting find their soul mates. In their youthful naiveté, they don’t appreciate that this is a gift that seldom is given, and squander it; they don’t exchange contact information and move along in their lives. It is only upon later reflection that they realize that this was an encounter that has shaped their being; a connection upon which all other relationships are measured and found wanting, a pivot point in the creation of who they have become.
Over the next few weeks, thank your Preacher or Rabbi, hug a teacher, send a card to a mentor, forgive that spiteful co-worker, buy dinner for your long-time friend, tell your Dad or your son you love him, find a long lost love. Most importantly, look inside and see the person you are and realize that we are the sum of our experiences. And we only go around once; flawed, bruised, dinged up, but lucky to be living where we are in the world, and hopefully generally happy.
In 1978 a co-worker at my after school job at Sears gave me a brass key ring that says ‘Super Weird Person.’ My keys are still on it. Thanks Jackie. I hope your life is going well. Merry Christmas.