Denny’s, LinkedIn and Lost Moments

30 09 2016

linkedin-message

I received a LinkedIn message a while ago that simply said “how are you?” Thinking this was just someone I had met at a conference who might be looking for a job, business, etc., I chose to ignore it. (Nice, I know.)

Then, a couple of days ago, I happened to see that this same person wrote another message. It went like this:

“I have to let you know, a lot of my success and my future adventures I owe in (part) thanks to you. When we all ate dinner at Denny’s you, Kim and Eric…I finally felt like I belonged for the first time in my miserable life, and I spilled my water and apologized profusely. Again later as we were all friends (you were all older than me) you sang “All the leaves are brown, the sky is grey” outside the libray (sic) with Kim and you took her teddy bear and pretended to Die againt (sic) the brick wall in such comedic fashion. These moments really became one of the many cornerstones in my life, about friendship and such enjoyment !! I just wanted to let you know you had an impact on my life, since highschool had been horrible to me. Then, my future exploded 🙂 thanks !!”

I thought this was a fantastic message (and though he went on to be an Emmy nominated computer animator and this seemed like an interesting contact to have), he had clearly thought I was someone else. Although Denny’s made me think of college (and many post drunken escapade patty melt excursions) plus the fact that I am a huge fan of the Mamas and Papas, I had convinced myself that he had the wrong person. These facts were merely coincidences. Feeling bad that this person reached out to me with such a heartfelt message that was misdirected, I felt compelled to email him back to let him know both that he had a case of mistaken identity and to not feel as if he were being ignored:

“Hi (name withheld)- that is a great email – I only wish I were with you, Kim and Eric but I don’t think it was me! In any event, I am glad that you have a memory to hold onto that helped to transform you to a better place. Continued success, Marc”

A few hours later, he replied and guess what? It was me!

I actually lived with both Kim and Eric at one point in college and it still didn’t connect with me! I have long lost contact with both of them, but still, how did I neglect to connect all these dots – me who will spend hours on google investigating the stupidest of things yet, in this case, though every single clue pointed in my direction, I didn’t give it a second thought that he had the wrong guy? (That sentence was way too long but I’m too lazy to address it right now.)

It actually made my day to know that something I couldn’t even remember from more than 2 decades ago stuck with someone still. Isn’t this the case more than we actually realize?

When we review our lives, there are moments that provide meaning to us in ways only we could understand in the broader context of our own personal experience. I know that is the case for me. Rarely are they the vacations or “big” events. More often, they are the small moments that probably only stick in our heads – sitting in the back of the orange, Chevy Impala asking your mom to ask your dad to have “the talk”, running through the field to your grandpa to tell him you’re learning trumpet, or sliding down the sloped doors in the backyard that lead to the basement… and the dentist after cracking your tooth.

These moments have no postcard images and even in today’s smart phone obsessed world, would probably not even have an Instagram pic to upload. These are the moments that remain imprinted solely in those internal cranial crevices that are only reachable by those who know the secret pathway to get there – the one that no one else knows about. When they’re shared with others who long forgot about them, they could be a gift.

You matter. You never know when some small innocuous moment could have a great meaning to someone that might look you up on a social media site decades later. Now only if I could get a message from that girl from Junior year who dressed like Suzanne Vega and introduced me to Robyn Hitchcock.

Until next time,

Marc





Feelings (whoa, whoa, whoa Feelings)

4 04 2016
feelings

“Feelings…nothing more than feelings.”

Ok – that title is definitely showing my age (again) but as my son would say, “that’s the deal, yo”.

My son had a friend over tonight and we all had dinner together – me, him and his friend and my daughter. I sat back and listened to them just talk, like normal teens do and I physically felt this tingling rush through my body. It’s the same thing that happens when my kids forget I’m in the car with them and they just are yakking away, in the moment. Or we are on a hike or canoeing – just “being”.

Every time, since they were babies, that I witness my kids just being themselves and interacting with close friends and family, it makes me so grateful to be alive at this very moment. There is nothing that could compare for me because it is pure love. That is what love really is – when you are witnessing those you would die for just being in the moment and embracing the fleeting nature of it all.

I wish I could explain this without sounding hokey or like one of those “new agey” sensitive, ponytail types. I think why it is so profound with kids – mine and those of friends and family I am close with – is that I have this humbling experience of witnessing the development of a whole person. This is something that is remarkable.

It comes during times of profound challenge, too; the group chat that throws your daughter into a tizzy, the bout of intense sadness that overcomes your son for no reason; the realization that you, as a parent, a friend, an extension of someone else, are without answers, helpless and still.

It is all a gift. Each and every second – good or bad. That is the thing that requires pause – to take it in and just be with it and feel it without definition. That is, in the beginning, and I suppose at the end, the most simple and true definition of life and of soul. When those moments arise – and they are few and far between, I am overcome with gratitude.

I am guessing it is easier to be a woman and discuss these types of things but I truly believe that feeling is not an emotion that is particularly aligned with one gender over the other. Just as women still have yet to achieve equality in pay and work opportunities, men have yet to achieve equality when it comes to acceptance in those fundamental and intense emotions that make us human.

That is of no consequence to me. I am just thankful for the good and the bad. The ability, self-acceptance and non-judgement associated with simply feeling is more than worth the struggle of feeling self conscious, embarrassed or ashamed.

A life without feeling is no life at all.

Until next time,

Marc





My Grandpa’s 100th Birthday.

28 06 2015
Me and my grandpa.

Me and my grandpa.

Today would have been the 100th birthday of my grandfather.
He passed away almost 21 years ago but I can say that I still think about him almost every day.
This is a man who never went to school beyond the 8th grade, having been pulled away from school to work on the farm and then, himself, worked harder than anyone I probably ever had known.
He was a great grandfather. He wasn’t a 21st century grandfather like you would see today, perhaps, but in his own quiet way, you knew he loved you. He was no nonsense but not in a self-righteous way. He was simple but not dumb in any respect. He was old-world and strict and yet open minded for someone of his generation.
I have been thinking about him a lot today. The world that exists today is greatly different politically, environmentally, socially and financially than the one he left in 1994 and how would he make sense of it – this man who cranked up his first automobile and drove a school bus after retiring from the farm?
While I would not want him to endure his grandson going through a divorce, as I know it would pain him greatly, I would be willing to have him live through that if it meant the opportunity to meet his grandchildren, one of whom he is named for. That would be a real hoot. I can see his wide, dentured smile now laughing at some of the shit that comes out my 14 year old and the rosiness of his cheeks that was prominent around pretty ladies, like my daughter. I picture him reaching for a plastic bag full of Brach candies to offer them to my kids. (It’s funny what you remember.)
It is easy to lose your way on the journey to and during adulthood. I can’t figure it out. I am really struggling right now – but I am ok with it. It is exactly where I need to be and there are lessons that still await me. My grandfather was never affected by what did not concern him. He was a family man through and through – not necessary easy, not necessarily “enlightened”, not necessarily progressive but reliable, true, honest and forthright. These qualities are sorely missing in our ego driven world where it is as much around perception as it is around authenticity. I don’t know that I can live up to that standard myself but am willing to try.
He was not without his struggles, of which I will never really know as there are walls that remain between child and adult either for the sake of the child or the sake of the adult. However, I can tune into those frequencies better now of what they may be as many might be my own today.
100 years old. That would be something.
I remember his funeral on October 6 in New York state. It was the most beautiful, peaceful autumn day. The light from the sun was crisp – the type of yellow hue that is captured in a painting and was accentuated by the calmest winds and it smelled like fresh autumn leaves. I knew that for all his illness, he was at peace.
He came to me a few days later in what was more than a dream. For those of you who have had dreams that were beyond “seeming so real” but yet unexplainable, you will know what I mean.
I never told too many people about it but it was so vivid that I knew it was not just a dream.
I was looking into a mirror that he and my grandmother had in their hallway when I saw my grandfather walk up behind me. But he was not the grandfather who had grown so frail over the past few years. Rather, it was the heavier, mafioso looking guy with salt and pepper mustache and wavy thick hair, shirt with pocket that always held his eyeglasses case, big belt and slacks.
I was incredibly startled to see him, having just buried him.
He was standing behind me and had a wide grin laughing at me as if had just pulled off the best episode of “Punked” that ever existed.
And then, he was gone and I woke up in my bed.
There was a hazy transition from sleep to wake state and I stared at the top of my bureau with my alarm clock.
I knew he was ok.
Happy Birthday Grandpa. Until next time….
Love, Marc
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