In my life there have been moments and short encounters that looking back were significant in my life. Sometimes, it is a representation of who I am. That is, the encounter supports my own identity and values. Sometimes, that brief moment has an indelible mark like a footprint in the sands of my time.
I always wonder why we remember what we do. Why one memory slides in and stays to be called up at a moment’s notice and others disappear. It reminds me of the genie in the bottle. Rub the right spot on the lamp and a memory lights up from a cloud in the mind. But, what secrets do these memories impart? What wishes do they fulfill?
Today a memory was pulled from my mind in an announcement on facebook. “Today is Jeff Berglund‘s birthday”, said my facebook notification.
I met Jeff in person once at a Sietarusa conference in Portland, Oregon two years ago. He was working as a volunteer collecting items for the silent auction to provide scholarships for students to attend the conference. I talked to Jeff and another volunteer briefly. I don’t remember the conversation, but I do remember I was in a light and jovial mood. This made the conversation fun and entertaining. Somehow, a connection was established and a friendship was made. Just like that.
I attended Jeff’s workshop and he taught me the 2-1 ballroom step. I delighted in meeting someone who, like me, looked at the positive side of life. He was kind enough to listen to my ideas about intercultural communication and mediation; and to be bold enough to give me excellent feedback. He asked critical questions that helped me think deeper and with greater clarity.
Since that weekend, I friended Jeff on facebook and learned that he spends his time teaching people about Kyoto and Tokyo Japan in video. Like me, Jeff loves his adopted culture (mine is India) and is a strong multicultural personality.
This is the point for me. That people make a difference in our lives if only for a brief encounter, or even a second of our time. They create an impact and impression that is often not forgotten. That brief time spent was memorable because it supported my perception of myself. It helped me think through a direction I was taking in my life. It represents and supports deep values and beliefs I either practice or aspire to achieve.
It reminded me of the words Edward T. Hall said to me at the Summer Institute for intercultural Learning. He said, “The most important thing to remember as you study intercultural communication is to care. Nothing else matters.” Meeting Jeff represented that aspect of caring. That encounter highlighted how living in an intercultural world where everyone is different and everyone brings their own unique perspective and their unique blend of cultures is such a vibrant experience. It reminds me why I love people and the stories they have to share.
This is a part of a series of memories I will call snapshots. I will add to these memories as reflections on my life. Stay tuned.