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Stan’s Stuff

Where has the time gone for you?

Netflix has produced a documentary series entitled ‘Our Universe’ with the sonorous tones of Morgan Freeman as narrator. It’s effect on me was to remind me of how everything has an end. Planet earth will explode/dissolve/or wobble to its destruction in about 1.5 billion years.
 |  Stan Stewart  | 

Well, I can shelve that one. No need to think about it now, but the second episode, which is about ‘Time,’ confronts the viewer with the fact that sooner or later, inevitably time will bring us all down – dust to dust kind of theme.  Yuk – not a comforting thought at all.

This has started me thinking of my journey through time. How quickly the years have gone. So much I have forgotten. I rummaged through my memory to find memories that are still clear. I found a few which are clear as yesterday focused on world events.

On November 23, 1968, when JFK the President of America was assassinated. I was riding down an escalator in Myer Department Store, Melbourne. The ‘Musac’ stopped and a shaky voice informed everyone in the store the terrible news. The escalator kept rolling but my mind was frozen in shock.

On January 28, 1986, we were walking down a concourse of the Atlanta airport. Our small son Walker strutted beside us. On a recent visit to an ‘America Inspace’ exhibit we had purchased a fancy space-themed jacket and astronaut hat which he was wearing with pride.

We noticed that the crowds of people around us were distressed.  A television set told us why. The space shuttle Challenger with seven astronauts on board – including one female primary school teacher, blew up shortly after the launch. Primary school students around the country had been watching.

Not all my clear remembrances are of world-shaking disasters. Some are local and personal. Many of these produce warm and gooey feelings – family occasions, weddings etc., and special events when all went to plan. Some are of personal disasters that still cause inner shudders. And then there are surprises that stand out.

I had only been living in Whitianga for two weeks when a man came hurrying across the road calling my name. I thought I was for it. He wore the Whitianga bloke’s casual uniform, shorts, crumpled shirt partly tucked in, unkempt tussled hair, jandals. He had seen me come out of the Informer office and he called from across the street, “Do you work for the paper?” “Yes” I said. “What’s your name” he called. “Stan” I called back. He came striding across the road. “Now I’m for it” I thought. His hand was outstretched, and I realized he wanted to shake my hand. “You write “Stan’s Stuff” he said squeezing my hands. “I really like that column” he said. His face beamed. That was a welcome I will never forget.

Most days are hard to remember what happened, one from the next. A number of retired people have told me that. And the days are all passing so quickly;  a kind of blur. Are our memorable days behind us? I’m thinking they needn’t be; they shouldn’t be.

Seeing we can’t stop the clock can we – could we, work on making more memorable days for ourselves and/or for others?

The possibility/probability of having more memorable days is the tourism industry’s constant theme. “Beaches, exotic markets, ancient ruins, we can take you there – make it happen”.

“Unforgettable journeys. You pay us and we will make it happen”. Really! I can remember climbing up to the Parthenon – my it was hot; and finding a place to lay my towel on Kuta beach – “No I don’t want to buy a tee shirt!” These occasions don’t stand out as ‘unforgettable’ moments.

In my experience, unforgettable memory blips can happen in an instant. I know I will never forget the young mum with toddler in tow who paid for my groceries when I had forgotten my wallet. I spluttered, she insisted. Now there’s a memory I won’t forget. I wonder does it even cross her mind? Possibly not.

I’ve been thinking about unforgettable moments that are not world events but happen in the sphere of our ordinary life. Suppose we can create unforgettable moments for others.  Could it be as easy as crossing the road to shake a hand or spending a dollar or so to help a stranger out of a jam. Why not?

After thinking about it, this is what I now feel. Unforgettable moments cannot be bought or sold or manufactured. They happen because the care for another person leads to an act of warmth of unexpected generosity.  If I am sensitive, I could create an unforgettable moment for a stranger or friend, or, some random person could make one for me. The only response life will ask of me is gratitude.