Prior to sitting down to pen my thoughts, I originally thought the following pages had been a work in progress over the course of my entire life. I now subscribe to the belief that the foundational elements for these pages were actually set prior to my existence. This belief stems from a heightened awareness and appreciation of the preciousness of human existence and the incredible significance of each and every human soul who has, is or will inhabit the earth, including yours! While I will admit that this writing endeavor was on my “to do” list for no less than three summers in a row, I know with confidence that it only now with an increased perspective on the connectedness of my ancestral roots that I can even attempt to give this endeavor the justice it deserves. After all, these words are for you, and every other perfect soul who happens to stumble upon them. I don’t take that lightly.
At my father’s suggestion and funding (thank you Dad), I decided take a short sabbatical from everyday life to write the words on these pages in Vermont sans offspring, piles of laundry, guinea pigs and other daily distractions. And yet, as I sat by the old bay window at the Moon Dog Cafe in Chester with the intent of writing, memories of my childhood summers in Vermont and generations past preoccupied my mind completely. My efforts to remove myself from distractions had gone awry.
After what seemed like several non-productive hours, it eventually occurred to me that perhaps these distractions are actually not deterrents at all. Wayward thoughts can be inspiring, if you let them be. So, I decided to do just that. I invited the bittersweet memories of my past, my kinship to these green mountains and the roots of my family lineage to be the muse  I needed to begin. And, as my father and I stood on the hillside of the Village Cemetery in Rochester, I realized the undeniable connection between my past, the present and the future endeavors that have yet to unfold.
A recent interest in genealogy led me to the Village Cemetery in the hopes of locating the final resting place of my paternal great grand-parents. Before leaving the cemetery, my father and I had stumbled upon no less than two additional generations of family members dating back to the mid-1800’s. It was incredible and overwhelming to be surrounded by the remnants (both physically and spiritually) of the land and the lineage from whence I came.
I became acutely aware of the astounding significance of each and every individual in the family line. After all, the slightest variation to their existence could have greatly altered, or prevented mine all together. I doubt they would have ever entertained the notion that each seemingly insignificant detail of their lives, each and every life event & decision they put into practice was already having an impact on someone who wouldn’t even be born for over a hundred years later.
Perhaps they didn’t have the capacity to realize the importance, or magnitude of their own lives serving as the catalyst for the foundation of mine. It was never more clear to me than at that moment that while my ancestors may have written the rough draft that is my life, only I can fill the pages with meaningful content and make the necessary edits as I see fit. I know that my purpose and responsibility is two-fold. As I live each day writing my final draft (metaphorically), I am simultaneously co-authoring the rough drafts of my children’s lives and my children’s children, and so on, etc… This is an incredible responsibility.
And, so the connection is this…that your life is all about the choices you make each day, about the kind of person you decide to be and the paths in which you choose to travel. The key term here is “CHOICE” and you would be wise to take ownership of this concept as soon as possible. While it is true that “life” does “happen” beyond your control to a certain extent, you are the author of a good majority of it. I don’t believe in fate, destiny or any other form of pre-determinism. These concepts lead to a passivity syndrome that can lead to malaise and mediocrity. I believe in free will. It is with this belief that one is forced to face the reality of their own responsibilities in life. But, this should not be daunting. It should be empowering!
After all, life is a journey in which you only get one go at. Eventually, we will all be a wayward memory, which is an undeniable truth. But, the silver lining that we often forget is that we are the authors of these memories. We actually have the privilege of crafting future memories of who we were by how we live our lives today and the choices, decisions, efforts and accomplishments of today. What a gift! And, this is my gift to you, young friends, as you embark on this extraordinary adventure called “life” in which you are privileged to author each day. YOU are the author, the artist and the inventor. This life is your canvas. Paint it beautifully.