Another Day in the Country
© Another Day in the Country
I woke up this morning thinking about Dave, a work associate of mine from 45 years ago.
He actually was my boss, and it was one of the first experiences I ever had working with a man who treated a woman as an equal, even though in pay grade or authority, we weren’t.
This was the era when the Women’s Rights movement was still new and unusual. In religious circles, where I found myself, “women’s rights” were suspect.
In society men had grown up, inadvertently, as a privileged species; but Dave was a thoughtful, egalitarian man. I admired this gentleman. Knowing him changed my life in subtle ways.
I was wondering whether he was still alive and decided, on a whim, to Google his name. This digital age is amazing!
The first name that appeared on my screen, complete with a picture, was of a college professor in California. The first and last name fit and the state fit. Working at a college fit. Being a history professor? Maybe. This guy even looked a little like Dave, only 40 years ago.
“Too young,” I muttered to myself. “Keep searching.”
Interesting fellow, this younger Dave who I discovered accidentally. He obviously is well liked by his students and appreciated in academic circles.
He’s written three books — one caught my eye about the cowboy barons of California and the beginning of big ranching enterprise in San Francisco, “Industrial Cowboys.”
I perused the book and even wrote down a quote.
“Memory is a tricky tool for reconstructing the past,” he wrote. “It speaks with the authority of individual experience unchallenged by contrary data or dissent.”
I often think about the part that memory plays in my story of Ramona. At the age I now enjoy, there are few around to dispute the information I recall. What if I were getting it all wrong? It makes me more cautious when I tell stories of our ancestors.
But, I digress. The wheels are still churning on my computer, hunting for information about my version of Dave, the witty, energetic, charismatic, snappy dresser who was dean of students at a college where my husband was chaplain, and I managed the student campus center and taught a couple of classes.
The computer was still working on my request for information. Several options occurred, a fork in the road to hopefully put us on the right track.
“Was he related to someone named Jane?” the computer asked.
“Yes,” I answered, Jane was his wife, and the wheels kept turning.
What I wanted here was a current address. I yearned for the days when everyone had a land line. You could call out your city to the telephone operator and then give someone’s name and be fairly assured you’d receive a current phone number.
There’s flashing on the screen. Something I have to do beside wait. This comprehensive report I was about to receive would include criminal activity, felony charges, tickets issued.
“Do you agree to keep this information confidential?” the screen asks. I’ve got to check a box.
First of all, this wasn’t the Dave I knew. And how would checking a box insure my confidentiality? Anyone could check a box and then misuse information. I chickened out and closed down the search. Surely all of this was nobody’s business.
I sat quietly in front of the keyboard for a few minutes. Maybe I’d Google my own name. So, I put in my formal name and the first thing that popped up was an obituary from a newspaper in Cleveland, 2018.
“Well, so much for that,” I muttered.
In this day and age, everything appears on a computer screen, it seems. Luckily, I’ve always purposed to live my life in a way that there was no discrepancy between who I was privately or publicly. It seems that in this time of history there is very little that resides in the private arena of life.
“Is there anything,” I wonder, “considered to be private?”
People distribute their family pictures on public media and daily give voice to their opinions and frustrations on the Internet, incessantly, and all of this becomes part of histories public record, whether you intended it so or changed your opinion five minutes later.
Anyone can say almost anything, pretending it is true in this world of constantly streaming information where even blatant mistruths stand as solidly as truth.
I’ve always had a tendency toward skepticism. I’ve been the kind of person who offers the benefit of doubt to someone or something until one’s actions or service record speaks for itself, but now when information comes thick and fast, we are called upon to be even more discerning. We can’t always wait to see how something plays out.
We have to decide now: What information can we trust? What principles in life do we know to be true? What attributes in ourselves and others have we come to believe in? How much are we swayed by the media?
It’s another day in the country and even though I haven’t found Dave to tell him how much I appreciate his influence in my life, it’s a good day to give thanks for all the positive role models we’ve encountered.