As we sit here in central Virginia, awaiting the nor’easter that is threatening to shut down the entire east coast of the United States, I wonder what our values are. My wife, Linda, Wonder Woman as she is called at St. George’s Episcopal church, is fretting over what will happen if we have even a minor snowfall here in Fredericksburg. I fully understand her concern; with over 2000 pounds of fresh fruit, vegetables, and durable staples to distribute at The Table, she is concerned about getting this food to those in need. This is to say nothing about the storage problems we have with such an active church. Truly, this is an issue that a snowfall will disrupt.
However, and there always is a however; however, we might look at this threatened snowfall for what it can be. Major weather events that completely disrupt our everyday lives can be a blessing. If we take this time to sit back, meditate on where we are, where we are going, we might be able to live with ourselves with greater comfort. We must live in the moment; I know this is a popular expression, living in the now, living in the moment. Take hold of our lives and examine where we are. Several questions will push themselves to the front of your mind. Questions, such as to where we are going, and why. Questions whether our current lives are taking us where we want to be in ten, twenty, or thirty years.
Thirty-two years ago, I was in the photography business – unhappily. As good as business was, expenses for rent and utilities, costs of goods to produce our final products, customers always in a rush, were issues that kept me awake at night. Then tragedy struck: on the way home on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I stopped to make a left-hand turn. The alcohol-induced driver behind me failed to notice my blinker and rear-ended my car, driving my car under the wheels of a very large deliver truck. Six weeks later, I was still in a wheelchair. Five years later, I was the proud owner of a completely failed business. Fortunately, doors were opened for me to draw me into teaching. I ended my depressive solace by becoming a history teacher at New Providence High School in New Jersey. As luck would have it, more doors opened and I studied for a doctorate in literature from Drew University, and in my retirement years, I am now an adjunct professor of American literature at Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg.
The strange thing about this is that I had gone to college in 1961 to become a mathematics teacher; this did not work out, and after a stint in the United States Marines, I came home to help run the family business, which over the years morphed into the photo business.
I was not living in the moment; I was taking the way I thought would lead to a comfortable life. During my 25-plus years in business, I did many things outside to enrich those I knew. I had photography classes; I rented space to amateurs to develop their own photos in my labs; I worked with the local school systems to enrich their high school photo clubs and courses. I taught Sunday school at Christ Church in summit off and on for twenty years; and I lead the Christian Ed program at Christ church for many years. Do you see a pattern? I was edging towards teaching subconsciously. I was not actively listening to my inner voice, and therefore, I was not living in the moment, or what I refer to as living in the now. I never really took the time to learn what I really wanted to do; I was too busy doing, not thinking. . . until that fatal night in 1985 caused me to think and consider my options.
I have been honored to be asked to be the key-note speaker at the Academic Awards ceremony at Germanna Community College in April. I’ll bet you cannot guess what my message will be for these bright up-and-coming future leaders of our society, be it local, national, or ever international. These are young students from all backgrounds, all ethnicities, and all religions. I have been blessed to have some of them in my classes. They are the future of Virginia and the United States, and, they are the best students I have been blessed to mentor.
That’s all for today; enjoy your day Far from the Madding Crowds.