Histories

“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”  This lyric from the final song in Hamilton, captures not only an important question about our history but also about our present.

There are different versions of our histories – within our families, our institutions, our country and our world.

In many ways, it is less important to reconcile our complicated personal and national histories than it is to at least spend some time examining them.


Grace

Several months ago, I was listening to Marc Maron interview Glenn Close for his podcast. It was fascinating on many levels — for example, who knew that the actress was raised in a religious cult? 

One story, in particular, has stuck with me. As a young address, Close was an understudy looking to make her Broadway debut. One particular Saturday, the director, Hal Prince, told her that he was thinking of letting the leading lady go and was going to make his decision after the matinee. …


Grandma

In conjunction with Women’s History Month, my 11 year old daughter came home from school with an assignment to write a paper about a female member of her family that was no longer with us.

She chose her great grandmother, whom she never had the chance to meet but shares a middle name.

As part of this assignment she had to interview at least two members of our family who knew Nana using a series of questions supplied by her teacher.…


Revisit

Last week, during winter break for my children, our family drove into New York City, for no other reason than to take our dog for a walk. While it was his inaugural stroll through the city streets, it was an opportunity for me to revisit old haunts and places that I called home for fifteen years.  

My memory is not what it used to be. Presumably it’s preoccupied by short term demands for my attention that usually arrive these days via email, zoom calls and, more importantly from my children and family.…


Roles

If an actor is defined by the roles he or she takes on, then by all accounts Chadwick Boseman was a man defined by dignity, strength and justice. Playing Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and the Black Panther, among others, Boseman’s talents were undeniable – as were the many ways in which he chose to share his gifts both on and off the screen.

His death last week of colon cancer at the age of 43 stopped me in my tracks – not just because it was a tragic loss of a talented person in their prime – but because the same disease has wreaked havoc in the lives of my family and friends.…


Here

I love the Beyonce song, “I was here.” It’s an inspiring and anthemic reminder and call to action regarding our purpose. Consider these lyrics:

I wanna say I lived each day, until I die
And know that I meant something in somebody’s life
The hearts I have touched will be the proof that I leave
That I made a difference, and this world will see

I was here


In this context and most, “here” refers to the specific time and place that we occupy. 


“We are the flood and we are the ark.”

The last paragraph on page 194 read, “The most hopeless conditions can inspire the most hopeful actions. We have found ways to restore life on Earth in the event of a total collapse because we have found ways to cause a total collapse of life on Earth. We are the flood, and we are the ark.” 

I paused before moving on to the next chapter and looked up at my oldest daughter finishing breakfast.…


“Best in” vs. “Best for”

As the decade comes to a close, there are no shortage of “Best of” lists — best stories, best films, best songs, best books, best teams, best players etc.

Perhaps you’ve also done your own personal best of the decade list. It would probably be filled with milestones, accomplishments, vacations, and events.

What we don’t see are many “best for” lists.  In other words, what were the best things done for someone else?


What are your greatest hits this year?

With just one month left in the year, it is natural to look back at the previous eleven. For some it will feel like a blur, others a slog, others yet a mixed bag.
 
In the context of our life, it is likely that only a handful of memories from this year will remain lodged in our consciousness this time next year, joining the handful of others from each previous year of our lives. …


Would you like more or have you had enough?

In his brilliant new book, We are the Weather:  Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, Jonathan Safran Foer recites a common definition of the American Dream as “having a better life than one’s parents – better primarily in the sense of affluence.” 

He describes how his grandparents had a better home than his great grand parents and how his parents had a better home than his grandparents AND how he now has a better and more valuable home than any of them. …