Memories of a Lifetime

"We must choose to create the memories that enrich our lives."
Jim Huling

"I stood in the bow of the raft, balancing myself against the turbulence of the water, and said goodbye to the hundreds of miles of raging whitewater that had been my home for the past six days. Beside me stood my son, Scott, and my daughter, Sarah, also saying farewell."

"I saw tears in their eyes that matched my own as I put my arms around them and knew that the memory of these days would last forever."

With these words Jim Huling, CEO of MATRIX Resources Inc., began an essay titled "Treasured Memories" in SmartBusiness Philadelphia (September 2006) which captured his sentiments about the need to create memorable memories. He challenged the readers to look at their calendars for the next few weeks to see if there are events scheduled which will really matter years later, i.e. an afternoon with a loved one, a weekend out of town, a special celebration.

Or, are our calendars packed with business, nose-to-the-grindstone obligations with nothing but task pile upon task? Wisely, he asks what we remember of those kinds of tasks from the same month last year. How many of those worries and deadlines do we even remember now?

Then he asked us to recall the highlights which we do remember from a year ago, the times we stepped aside from the routine busyness to stop, look and listen to the people that really matter to us. He says, "In essence, these memorable moments were your life; the rest were just the details."

I have been pondering Jim Huling's insights as well as his exhortation, "These special memories and all the others you want in your life, won't happen unless you make time to create them."

Here at Valley Forge Christian College we have been creating memorable moments for 75 years. And as we celebrate our 75th year during 2013-2014, we will be accumulating the stories and reconnecting with the people who made them. Some of those stories will involve the consolidation of numerous small schools into what we are today. Others will be our various name changes which reflect our institutional journey.

Our buildings are named after many of the heroes whose influence kept us going when times were tough. All graduates have a storehouse of treasured memories accrued during their years of matriculation. And as we learn from the exit interviews of each senior class, many of their most lasting memories took place outside the classroom in sports activity, weekend ministry, overseas trips or just the one-on-one exchange with mentors/faculty over a cup of coffee. Tuition can never buy that.

Treasured moments come in all shapes and sizes. Stacey King said, "I will always remember this night. It is the one night Michael Jordan and I scored 70 points." Stacey King said that when he was asked how he felt on the night Michael Jordan scored 69 points and he only scored one.

Many years ago one of our relatives told a story on himself regarding his own approach to taking a vacation with his family. In advance, he prepared every detail of the itinerary including how far they would travel each day and where they would stay each night. Several times his family wanted to take a detour to visit some place they discovered along the way.

But, with great chagrin later, he said that he brushed aside each request because he wanted to stay on schedule. I still remember the look on his face and the tone of his voice as he lamented how he missed what really could have been the best memories of all.

Jim Huling ended his article by exhorting the reader to "make time to create memories." If we don't we will resemble the sentiments of Martin Amis, "When the past is forgotten, the present is forgettable."

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA
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