Saturday - June 12, 2010
More Than a Resume - May 2010
May has come and gone. End-of-school milestones cluster on the calendar. Rounds of honors, concerts, recitals and performances jam our evenings in May, because they'll continue right up through mid-June and the end of the school's calendar year!
Speeches are written, certificates filled out, applications submitted, decisions made. People are receiving scholarships, applying for jobs and schools and camps and awards. We fill our names in the blanks, brush off our resumes, polish up our personal stories and professional accomplishments, and reflect on our lives.
Our biographies are on trial. We are being measured, passed over, considered and put in the maybe-pile, or rising to the top and acclaimed. Chosen. Or not.
And yet there is so much more to every person's story. We find different ways to make a difference, whether it's simply showing up and doing a good job, offering a smile with an extended hand, or volunteering to help in some way. Not everything can be narrated by a GPA, an academic degree, a sales record, a certification, a resume, an audition, an essay or an application. Paper doesn't ever tell the whole story. Not even a great multi-media campaign can tell it all.
Our family has peaks and valleys in its own story. At this time of year, there are plenty of highlights. Sarah is performing in dance recitals, vocal solos, saxophone recitals, honors award nights, sports awards, parades and other year-end events. She has a summer job, and travel plans and camps to attend. Dad monitors progress on construction of a new affordable residential project, attends the opening night of a local restaurant that he designed, and welcomes friends to a reception for his photography exhibit at Zumi's. Mom earns colorful belts in kick-boxing and karate...inspired by Jessie and Jessie's mentors.
And Jessie? Although we released some of her ashes from an airplane two years ago, along with rose petals and paper cranes, we saved some...and they will be interred in a spot dappled by the shadows of a row of maple trees, at the top of a hill reached by a flight of haphazard granite stairs, above the town's oldest cemetery. She'll have her own place, with a stone that bears her name...and it won't begin to tell her story or narrate her biography. We'll have to do that for her, through our actions.
Jessie's biography is really in all of her living moments: swim lessons with blue lips, learning to pedal a bike in the Morris parking lot, shouting "ki-ai!" at the dojo, singing Christmas songs in a Moonlight play between scans and chemo rounds, having a crush on a boy in her grade, belonging to the Big 2-3 at Winthrop, earning a medal for playing on a soccer team, reading her first book aloud, trying to negotiate her way out of homework, hiding in the shadows with her black lab Lacey, riding the ski lift to the top of a mountain in NH, wheeling up into the sky on the London Eye, whooping while sledding and snowmobiling, running in and out of the surf at Crane's Beach, dressing as a leopard for Halloween, clicking downstairs in high heels and white gloves for a date with daddy, winning one more game of Uno or Connect Four against aunts, uncles and grandparents, galloping around the field with sister Sarah, playing practical jokes on nurses and doctors, doing mommy's hair in one more crazy hair-do.
And Jessie's biography is also narrated by those who loved and knew her. Jessie's classmates and teachers at Winthrop Elementary offer up another week of community service on their campus, at the Council on Aging, Caldwell Nursing Home, the House of Peace, Birth-to-Three Center, and the Animal Shelter among other locations. Peers at Doyon wash cars to raise money that will help build a school in Pakistan. Older classmates and friends will ride in this year's bike ride. Younger kids will show up for a bike safety obstacle course at the high school. Her older sister Sarah organizes fundraisers and gives out scholarships, and will go on a week-long youth group service trip to NY to work among people living with HIV and AIDS. Her parents volunteer at the hospital and raise funds to support other families who now face the challenges we once endured, especially through our foundation's Coast of Hope bike ride on Sat, June 19.
We are each so much more than a name on a stone or the answers filling in the blanks on a piece of paper. We each take up time and space. We touch many other lives. We are bound by knots and webs into a connection of lives and community, into a spectrum of time. And even when we pass beyond mortal senses, we continue to change the world.
As June approaches, oil continues to hemorrhage into the Gulf. Species are threatened or dying. The tide will probably move up the East Coast over time, threatening not just the fishing industry...it will touch all of us eventually, and meanwhile the impotence of watching ineffectual attempts to stop the flow makes us crazy. 15,000 volunteers are trying to clean up a mess whose gushing source hasn't yet been contained or healed!
In our community, one young child is going through the final rounds of a cancer treatment protocol, awaiting news of continued remission. In email, we receive information that another family connected through friends and colleagues is now grappling with a neuroblastoma diagnosis in their toddler. And a friends' son is now going through a bone marrow transplant, after numerous setbacks and delays, because his leukemia returned.
What do we do in response to such events? Whatever we can. Whatever is possible, while maintaining some internal balance in our hearts, souls and minds.
We cannot know how brief or long our life spans may be. Whether we'll get the chance to learn to read a book, write our own name, ride a two-wheeler, swim and sing and dance, travel around the world, fall in love, get a driver's license, call home and ask for a ride when we're in trouble, paint a painting, write a poem, put a stamp on an envelope or hit the send button on an email as we send off our curriculum vitae or our newest creation, then hold our breath as we await an answer we might dread or dream of...whether we'll see the oil spill cleaned up in the Gulf, or the end of more species, or the discovery of a cure for cancer and the eradication of polio, safe ways to provide potable water wherever it's needed, clean sources of energy, affordable homes and sustenance, healthcare that is accessible to everyone...the freedom to speak up and disagree and build a world together, honoring our differences...we cannot know. But we can try. And believe.
Our lives are more than a footprint on the beach or a signature on a page or a name on a certificate or a shadow in the late morning or ashes on the wind or dates on a stone. More. Our biographies aren't static. We change...all the time.
And although we don't know all that is coming, we ask questions. We open ourselves up to the possibility of finding out, and try to be connected, engaged and involved with life all along the way.
Bright Happy Power™
Coast of Hope BIKE RIDE **CLICK HERE**
The journey continues.