"Your greatest strengths are your greatest weaknesses. "
Student / Teacher / Farmer / Innovator
Pennsylvania - Germany - Maryland - Virginia
NMP#  12.C.4
Wash Post Newspaper Delivery - Giessen Commissary - Peoples Drug - S. Kleins - NFCU - USPS - Northrop Grumman IS - National Memory Project

A group or a nation is known by its people and its people is known by their stories.  Exposure to their stories help us to appreciate the diversity and culture of a group and to find ways to associate with it and bridge gaps that would otherwise lead to unwarranted distrust or hostility and to also prevent us from experiencing and appreciating those people.  A summary record may be a compilation of facts about someone’s life like an obituary or a resume, or it may be a story or a series of stories that represent significant learning moments that helped to define us... our defining moments if shared may help others.  

When compiling a list of people and events that shaped my life, two of the lighter events may be worth sharing here.  The first, as an elementary school boy, was the discovery of a box of books in my grandparent’s attic in Brookside, PA that I was told that I could have.  This opened the world of reading and learning wide open to me and let my mind go where my body never could.  One summer I remember reading a book a day and still wanting more. Today, when I hear of neighborhood programs for children that make sure that each child has at least one book of their own, I remember what books did for me.  That book can open up a world of opportunities for that child.  Once you can conceive of a better place, your odds of getting there have just increased immeasurably.

The second is a lesson in self-restraint and the role of chance or luck in our lives...and "Always Beware of Unintended Consequences!!"  I was raised in a fairly happy family that was always ready to play a joke or prank on one another.  That playful attitude was always there ready to come forward in an instant, but a significant 30 second event happening one morning in the fall in the early 1970’s made me realize that even very trivial prankish actions can carry disastrous consequences.  One of my early jobs was as a systems analyst at Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, VA.  While on deadlines, it was not unusual to work 80 hours or more a week.  One morning after working all night, I left the building in a Dodge van heading home.  It was autumn and the ground was blanketed with leaves.  On one side street, the homeowner had raked together a large pile of leaves and placed it in the street in front of his house sticking more than usual out into the street.  The pile of leaves sitting there in the road seems to be inviting my van to spread them down the street and to watch them get thrown into the air one more time before being collected and taken away by the city for composting or some other end.  Something made me steer around that pile rather than spread it down the street.  Then as I was driving past the pile two small young children emerged from that big pile of leaves!!!  I still am thankful for that uncustomary moment of constraint that kept my life, the lives of the children, and both of our families from careening down a different path from what would have been a meaningless tragic accident.   At that moment, I did learn that all actions however small can produce major consequences.  This was one of my life’s “high value-low cost” lessons unlike many of my other “high cost-low value” lessons.

As we make our way through our lifetime, we often come up with expressions that seem to quickly sum up important things for us, some of my favorite homegrown expressions are:

  • Give a healthy person a crutch and they will limp
  • Memories are life's true currency
  • The role of science fiction is to pull the future into the present
  • You do not know someone until you have seen them under pressure
  • Protect your roots to ensure your future 
  • Do not become a captive of your desires or you will become a slave to your creditors. (A story about how some African tribes search for water is instructive.  They place a hollow gourd out tied to a tree with shiny stones inside.  A monkey coming by, seeing and wanting the shiny stones reaches inside the gourd to take the stones but while his hand goes in unclenched, once he grasps the stones, his hand cannot get through the narrow neck opening of the gourd.  Rather than release the stones and flee, he keeps his grasp on the stones In the tethered gourd and is captured.  The natives then feed him salt which makes him thirsty, release the monkey and follow the monkey to water.   So make sure that the shiny stones are worth it and you know what you are giving up...or there just may be a right time to let go once in awhile.)

Memory Record Manager Contact Information