Anniversaries. We all have them. Birthdays. Wedding days. First dates. First meetings. Happy days. Sad days. And, for most of the year, most of them sit in a darkened room in the back corner of our mind, pushed to the back by the craziness that is day-to-day life.
Except when something triggers the light. These lights of recollection offer an opportunity for reflection. Remembrance.
Today marks one year at my current job. And it has, overall, been a very good year. I can honestly say that I’ve gotten what I’ve wanted out of the experience so far. Through some personal growth, and a lot of self-evaluation, and new skills learned, I’m realizing the decision was very definitely the right one. I miss the people I used to work with, but most of them have left my old job anyway, and they’ll always be dear. But, one year, seems like a million years ago.
But, as always, at least with me, this anniversary started to make me reflect. And then it came to me – this part of November seems to have a strange significance. A weird, nebulous combination of personal, professional and historical significance. A mix of hope, tragedy, triumph and belief.
Thirty years ago, on November 18, 1978, the Jonestown massacre happened. 919 people died in a single day in Guyana, and whether it was a combination of mass suicide, member, or a failure of imagination, it ranks as one of the most tragic days in world history. MSNBC’s “Witness to Jonestown” chronicles the People’s Temple’s growth, it’s move to Guyana, and it’s untimely end.
Just a nine days later, the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk plunged San Francisco into further mourning.
Forty-five years ago, on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. One of the most pivotal events in American History, and still to this day debated by historians, conspiracy theorists and ordinary Americans, JFK’s assassination put a quick end to the idealism of the early 1960s, and plunged America into internal crisis. PBS’ American Experience explores the impact of Lee Harvey Oswald’s Ghost and how the assassination lives with us even today. (Preview the documentary).
Forty-five years later, the election of Barack Obama has drawn more than a fair share of comparisons to the better times of JFK’s term, including the aire of JFK’s Camelot, the idealism of the nation, the spirit of the leader who can change the world, and the hope that now exists for America again – that in fact real change just may be possible.
And then there’s sixty years ago. My mother was born 60 years ago, and thank goodness, given recent health issues, she’s still with us to celebrate. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to play witness to both of these events live.
Which leads to me. November 18 marks one month left in my twenties. And in this last year of my twenties, I think of all of the good times I’ve had and all of the great people I’ve met. And I think ahead. I’ve seen 9/11, I’ve seen Obama get elected, and I’m sure over the next 30 years, there will be more of events that shape history. But I like to think I’ll remember the ordinary days too. I’ll look back at the things that seem mundane now, the way I feel walking to your job, the lobby of the floor where I work, the people you interact with, most of whom will have disappeared in my life.
And I think, which of these days will seem this significant to me thirty years later?
What are some of your most significant days? What makes a day significant to you?