By the time this note goes out, you will probably be in the midst of thinking about/preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday. So, let me begin by simply wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving.
I’ve just returned from a trip to Eastern Europe, a vacation trip postponed twice because of Covid. I marvel at centuries-old buildings, churches, palaces, and the paraphernalia of everyday life from men and women who inhabited these places many years ago. And it got me thinking about what lasts.
Certainly, the places I’ve visited have endured all the vicissitudes of life in the Middle Ages, two world wars and countless regional conflicts. Buildings have been destroyed by fires, storms, man-made conflicts and neglect. And yet the buildings stand, silent monuments to man’s ability to re-imagine and re-create new beginnings or enhancements of past lives.
The men and women who created these buildings, tapestries, statues, everyday pottery and works of art are long gone. But the ideas that animated them continue through these physical objects. And of course, generations of families continue real and imagined legacies.
On this trip, I’ve met some very interesting people, including an 82-year-old man I’ll call Rick (not his real name). When I was musing out loud about “what lasts”, he said something that struck me. He noted that from the vantage point of having lived over 80 years, what may last by way of concrete, material things don’t equal value to the people who created them nor to the people who decades later may view them. That’s a great reminder. “What lasts” is partly a question about one’s legacy to future generations.
For me personally, what lasts will have no material markers. I’m being fanciful here, but I like to think that what lasts will be the value we’ve created through our relationships with family, friends, our communities. And those actions typically result in incremental changes that may be hard to detect in the moment. Indeed, they may not be visible for years to come, if at all. I may be way off here, so your insights and ideas are most welcome. Thank you.
With my best wishes