A curious thing happened last week when The Dave Matthews Band song Say Goodbye played on one of my Spotify playlists. Now, before anyone mocks the song, (or my general taste in music on Spotify) I do have a point to make.
As the intro played, I remembered all the times I heard that song and every other DMB song in late high school and college (and if I’m being honest a little after college). I said to myself, this intro lasts 1 minute and 22 seconds before Dave sings. Turns out, I was wrong.
The musical intro lasts 1 minute and 25 seconds – not a shabby memory considering the years and beers that have passed since I paid attention to this tune.
This moment then made me think about the other things I can remember with unusual detail.
For instance, I know I saw a ~7:30 showing of Rudy in Fremont’s Paramount Cinemas on November 20, 1993. I wore navy wind pants with a large Michigan block “M” on the left leg, a navy Michigan #21 jersey, and a white Michigan undershirt. Why? Because earlier that day my Grandpa, Dad, and I traveled to Ann Arbor, sat in Section 43 of Michigan Stadium, and watched the Wolverines upset the #5 Ohio State Buckeyes 28-0. We returned home in time to catch the end of Boston College’s stunning victory over then #1 Notre Dame before Mom, Dad, and I went to the movie.
Oh, Glenn Foley was the quarterback of that Boston College team. Notre Dame’s was Kevin McDougal.
Not enough? Well, in winter 1993, I learned this quote by George Washington Carver: “Take what you have, make the most of it, and never be satisfied.” I scribbled it on a napkin and kept it in my desk drawer for many years. I can also tell you that I learned the quote during a speech at my church by former Bowling Green State University coach Gary Blackney, sat at a long, rectangular table just left of the center of the stage, and they served steamed carrots as part of the meal. That was the first time I ever ate carrots prepared that way.
The first time I saw My Girl was on December 19, 1992. I watched the game alone in my basement while flipping the channel between the movie and the Fab Five’s basketball game versus Iowa State. My sister had three friends over and at some point I played the game Mall Madness with them. This is all true.
I find this fascinating because besides the day I first watched Rudy, the other memories are not extraordinary. In fact, they are completely unremarkable moments that should melt into all the other memories of my youth. For some reason, though, I’ll never forget them.
It occurs to me that it’s impossible to anticipate the moments that stick in our brain – the moments that form who we are. We have no idea what words will leave a lasting impression on our children or our students. Just like we never know if a compliment, thank you, or offer to help will leave a positive impression with our friends and family long after the occasion itself passes. Who knows, maybe a joke or a laugh given to a stranger while waiting in line for coffee is exactly what he or she needs to have a better day?
Although we can’t choose if, or when, others will remember our actions, we can choose how they’ll remember them. By treating others with respect and kindness, fairness and appreciation, we can ensure that the memories that do last are ones that will make us proud.