A Very Full Sense of Time

bill2Funerals always bring out thoughts about time.  I am on the road today to attend the funeral of a old family friend.  Bill Schriefer passed away at the age of 89 after fighting lung cancer.  His wife of 61 years passed away last year.  Bill and Laura lived next door to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, and his daughter Doris was a bridesmaid in our wedding.  Ties that go back 42 years, when I was just a midshipman.  Bill was one of the few people I knew who served in the Navy in World War II, and he became a shipmate for life.

As I have hit 63 years old, and with my own dad passing a couple of years back and my mother growing weaker, it seems natural to think about life lived.  So, an article that crossed my path this weekend that could have not come at a better time.

The September/October issue of MIT Technology Review magazine arrived, with its annual 35 innovators under 35.  Always good reading and always inspiring.  But what really grabbed me this weekend was the opening editorial from Jason Pontin – “Seven Over 70.”  Jason reminded us that we meet older innovators all the time.  Seven of his favorite were:

Pontin noted that Silvers once replied when asked why he did not retire – “I don’t have a very full sense of time.”  I love how that captures life!  And it sums up my shipmate Bill’s life.  When he passed, some of his grandchildren were with him.  Bill lived life to the fullest, and will be missed.  A Navy man, steelworker, father and grandfather, farmer (his garden was an acre wide and took a tractor to maintain…which he drove up until a few months ago), a proud Elk, and a friend.  Bill’s life and example illustrate a life lived with a very full sense of time indeed.

“I don’t have a very full sense of time.”  Back in July, NPR had a story about Guy Clark, who at 71 said “”I know it’s still there to be done,” he says. “I haven’t written my last song, for sure. Nor my best one.”  It reminds me that I have not yet had my best blog post … or taught my best class…or had my best innovation – they are yet to come.  True for all of us.

Fair winds and following seas, Bill.


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Thanksgiving 2009

Linda and I will be travelling to my parent’s home in Augusta, Georgia, to spend Thanksgiving with them and my brother’s family.  Before hitting the road, it seems a good time to reflect on the meaning of this coming holiday.

Woods Hole MA

I have so much for which to be thankful.  First and foremost, a wonderful wife of 36+ years who grows more beautiful every day.  Linda remains my best and truest friend.  Two wonderful daughters, Melissa and Stephanie, who have grown into amazing women, found wonderful husbands, and started families of their own.  Linda and I now have two grandchildren, Elliot and Molly, and Steph is expecting her second this December.  Linda and I thoroughly enjoy being Grandma and Grandpa!

I am thankful for my country, the United States of America.  We live in a country that is not perfect but continues to reach for perfection.  In these uncertain and hard times, I feel confident that our country will rebound.  We just had a people-driven change of government…something other countries can only dream of.  I am thankful that our new President and his team seem to be embracing the online connections and conversations that will only make our democracy more democratic.

I am thankful that I have a job where I can explore and grow.  I have some amazing co-workers…which is probably the wrong word to use…more like fellow journeymen and women.  We build off each other’s creativity and strengths.  This is truly a job that I look forward to each day, and for that, I am thankful!

I am thankful that part of my job involves teaching.  My current students are producing some amazing learning nuggets as they struggle with the same things I am – using this diverse web to create learning communities and opportunities.  It is both fun and rewarding to watch them grow!

I am thankful for the many friends and colleagues I have, some of whom I have never physically met.  Through blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, I have connected to an amazing and supportive community around the world.  Someone in my community is either getting up or going to bed (at the same time).  The connections in Canada, England, Romania, South America, Asia, New Zealand and Australia provide a healthy difference of viewpoint to this Virginia resident that I find refreshing!  It has always seemed to me that “Personal Learning Environment” is misnamed, because without this vast community, little learning would take place at the personal level.  I continue to find the tweets and posts inspiring, illuminating, entertaining, provocative, and refreshing.  My interconnected worldwide network lift me up every day!

My life has been very blessed.  Parents who are still with us and from whom I continue to learn.  Wonderful experiences from growing up in Georgia to four years in Annapolis, 22 years in the Navy, and now 14 years in academia.  As with any life, there have been downs as well as ups.  I am thankful that I was touched with a cancer that could be cured – it makes every day a treasure to be enjoyed.

I shot the picture above on the evening of Stephanie’s wedding, and it is just one of thousands of images that come to mind when I think of what I have to be thankful for.

I wish all of my friends a blessed Thanksgiving!  If you have not, take a second to count your blessings!

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Our Family’s 9/11 Memorial

It has been seven years since I saw a Yahoo news feed that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and then watched with my wife in horror as the events of 9/11/2001 unfolded.   In those days, I was night dean and director of online learning at Gwinnett Technical College, so I worked 2pm-10pm shifts and had my mornings free for online work.  So I learned about the terrorist attack via my computer that morning.

CNN has an article this morning entitled “Creating 9/11 Memorials a Slow Process.”  It discusses the opening of a memorial at the Pentagon and the challenges associated with creating the New York memorial.  Memorials are important, as they provide a sense of closure and moving on to those impacted by the event.

I feel like my family has its own memorial.  One of my daughters chose 9/11 as the date for her marraige.  Steph and Chris are celebrating their fourth anniversary today, and they have blessed us with a wonderful grandson, and a granddaughter is expected around Christmas this year.  Their decision cast this date from one of terror to one of joy.  I know that there are many Stephs and Chris’s out there across American.  They represent what is positive about this country – a determination to move forward to better days.  As I reflect on this day and what it has meant to our country, I also reflect on how our country has rebounded…and that is a good feeling.

Happy Anniversary, Stephanie and Chris!

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