I’m thinking about connections, again. I write about this often, about the people we meet along the way. People who touch our lives, if only for a moment. People who affect our choices, encourage our dreams, change our paths–without us even realizing that the person or the moment is significant.
Yesterday, I read a post by Linda Katz called “‘Miss Holocaust Survivor’: Celebrate Beauty!”. Linda officially counts as one of the “Bloggers who I have met,” a small group of people who add to the fascinating connections in my world. I met her before I read her blog, during one of my NYC adventures this past year. I connected with her journey to find the Jews of Europe, to understand why they returned to countries which had basically tried to wipe them off the face of the earth. We talked for a while on the evening we first met, and I have followed her through her blog, because meeting her was one of those moments.
Linda’s post discusses the pros and cons of a beauty contest for Holocaust survivors, a contest which really celebrated the inner beauty of a group of women who survived some of the ugliest mankind has to offer, and moved onto live lives that surpassed the horrors of the Holocaust.
I think their story would make an amazing play.
But this post isn’t about their story. It is about the stories of all the people I have met along the way.
As I read the story, I thought back to my Hebrew School teacher, Mrs. Sekler who pulled me aside one day to show me blue numbers faded into her arm. She told me her story. I don’t recall the details, although I do know she watched her family die. When she shared her story with me, she changed my world because she was a woman who faced evil and still was able to love.
I wish I knew more about her.
There are so many people who touched my life only briefly, but my contact with them has affected me in numerous ways. I am horrible, in that I cannot remember names much of the time, and I only see snippets of faces–an eye here, hair there, perhaps a smile. But, when I look back at all the people I have met, even if only for a moment, I realize how amazing this world really is:
- my French pen-pal who I met while I was in high school. She showed me parts of France that I was lucky to see.
- Akemi, one of my good friends from Japan, who broke all the stereotypes and taught me how to reach for dreams.
- The Russian women who I met in Bali. They packed up and explored the world after the death of their husbands, which made me aspire to a future where I live my life to the fullest.
- Kenro, another Japanese friend, a teddy bear with muscles and an adorable smile, who made me believe in romance and the possibility of finding Prince Charming (no he wasn’t a romance he just made me believe in romance)/
- Rita Smith, my amazing Social Studies teacher in high school, who taught me that learning can and should be joyous fun.
- The woman who took me under her wing during my summer in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, taught me to dance The Shag (badly) and showed me that friendship can be formed through difference, even of age, if you are only open to it.
- Mindy, one of my fellow teachers in Japan, a feisty, tough Australian woman who broke rules and taught me how to live life with gusto.
- The man on a flight back to Arizona from Vermont, who talked to me the whole way about research, life, dreams and aspirations. I usually don’t talk much when I fly alone, but somehow the conversation with him seemed very important.
My list could go on forever, with the hundreds of There are also, of course, people who meet and affect life in negative ways. They count too, if only for the lessons they teach. In this case, I am not naming names even if I remember them:
- My professor from grad school who taught be my first real lesson about power, manipulation, and jealousy.
- The colleague at another college that continued that lesson, while attempting to destroy our lives and careers.
- The boy at a swim meet who made biased jokes forcing me to stand up for myself and my beliefs.
- The family who hated my family throughout my childhood, simply because we were Jews. They taught me to fight against bias based off of ignorance.
Fortunately that list isn’t as long, but it too could continue on if I wanted it too. I don’t want to do that.
I feel like I have met so many more people on this blogging journey, even if I have yet to meet most of them in person. I am so honored to have met a few (you know who you are) and hope to meet more in the future (possibly even at the end of the summer, Tori?)
Who are the people you have met, even if only for a moment, that have influenced your life in some way?