“On January 1, 1974, I wrote my first journal entry in an actual journal.” This comment by Jocelyn Cooley in Sojourns (winter/spring 2009), leaped off the page, rousing my own memory of that first day of 1974. That was the day I was late for my own wedding. Each of us is connected to time and to history in such unique and amazing ways. For Cooley, this specific date marks a turning point in her budding writing career. For me the date is indelibly marked by a mixture of embarrassment at being late, a shiver of cold at the memory of a -30° F temperature that froze the car in its tracks, and the reality of long gas lines that rendered car travel more precious than anyone of my generation had ever imagined.
What else was happening on that day? John Nessel was putting the finishing touches on his All American college football career at the Orange Bowl. President Nixon was gnashing his teeth over the gall of the American press. A nearly 26-year old Mikhail Baryshnikov was chomping at his artistic bit in the Kirov Ballet. A small child with a distended belly crouched among thousands of starving Ethiopians inching closer toward death. Someone was born that day. Someone broke an arm that day. Someone’s out-of-control car slid into another car on an icy highway that day. Someone endured chemotherapy and nausea that day.
We live lives of infinite variety. Today someone shivers in London while simultaneously someone else photographs a riot of exotic blossoms in Australia. An astronaut circumnavigates our planet, watching as day turns to night and storms swirl between us. Each day is precious to each one of us in some unique way. Too often we trudge through days filled with the mundane bits and pieces of life and overlook the fact that we won’t get a second chance at this day. For those whose days are numbered, the value of a day takes on gargantuan proportions. The prudent among us try not to wait until our days are numbered to cherish each moment, to place each disappointment into the larger context of life, and to see the miraculous events that unfold before our benumbed eyes.
What were you doing on January 1, 1974?
What are you doing today?