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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Unmemorable



True story…  I had already written this post before I read the daily office, but when I saw this, I laughed… and laughed…  Fair warning, it’s seriously out of context…

Psalm 13:1a “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (NIV)

There was this awkward moment, this morning, when I sat down to have coffee with my friend Erin and looked across the room.  I turned to her and began to ask, “Erin… behind you… is that…” And since we have fallen into an old familiar pattern, where we can apparently finish each other’s sentences and answer each other’s questions, even if they are not complete, Erin replied, “Yeah, that’s Mr. Wilson.  He’s here almost every Wednesday.  I talk to him all the time.”

Well, OK then.  Nothing like starting your morning off feeling like you’re in 10th grade geometry class again.

When Mr. Wilson walked by our table, I jumped up and said, “MR. WILSON!”

I instinctively knew what was coming before he ever uttered a word…

“Uh-oh…  name… I don’t remember who you are…”

I gave my name.  Then my thought process went something like this:

I had you for geometry…  and honors algebra II/trig… and driver’s ed… and I was your TA for a year!  Oh my goodness, I must be completely unmemorable.  Wait, did he just ask a math question?  At 37, I don’t have to answer that, do I?

Mr. Wilson graciously pretended to remember me at this point and asked what I have been doing.  Because they only thing I could think was, “Drinking a mocha at Panera,” I was especially glad that Erin came through…

“She’s raising five kids… and teaching music… and working on a third degree, because she’s always working on another degree…  She’s basically a professional student… and lives in two states…”

Um… yeah… insert me saying, “Life is kinda weird…”

Now, here’s the truth.  I shouldn’t expect Mr. Wilson to remember me.  It’s been close to twenty years, and I am certain he had hundreds of students pass through the doors of his classroom after me.  He did, in fact, make something of a profound impact on my life, because he pretty much saved me from repeating my sophomore year of high school due to lack of attendance.  I was hospitalized for asthma three times that year and risked failure, even though I was an honor roll student, because of truancy.  This made it pretty difficult to pass a speech class, which is how I ended up as his TA.

Well, Mr. Wilson finished off our conversation by saying, “Keep working and paying taxes, so I can stay retired,” and we all laughed and went on our way.

But this interaction got me thinking…  I don’t really want to spend several years of my life with someone just to be forgotten.

I have long since stopped worrying about being credited for anything I do in the world.  I don’t feel the need to see my name in lights or even to have it whispered from across a coffee shop.  If no one ever asks, “Hey… isn’t that L,” I’ll be OK.  And I mean that.  I honestly mean that, so don’t go worrying about whether or not I’m legitimately alright with invisibility as a super power.  I am.  But I’m only OK with this if the things I am doing and saying are making a real and lasting impact on the people with whom I come into contact.  I want to be redemptive.  I don’t care if people remember who I am, but I do care that I’m doing something that matters. 

I recently read a quote by Mother Teresa.  Apparently it was her motto: “I don’t do great things.  I do small things with great love.”  I could definitely live with that.  I hope I can live like that.  Unmemorable can be OK, as long as it’s accompanied by loving action.
 
L.

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