Memories are made of this
What do you want to be remembered for? This was the question put to me some time ago and with some prompting from several sources I put fingers to keyboard. There was an expectation from my sponsors that I would give a full account of my rather colourful life. On reflection I decided that this would not serve its purpose. With the advantage of my training and practice as an NZIM accredited management mentor I saw a need for a direction finder for younger people in preparation or at the outset of their careers based on my own experience. In furthering this objective I had the advantage of a Hospice North Shore assigned editor. We agreed from the outset that the resulting text should not exceed thirty pages to make allowance for the shorter attention span of the younger generation. Embarking on this initiative I did not anticipate the challenges of transferring recorded and digitally transcribed dialogue into a readable format. What was expected to take only a few hours turned into a major time commitment with several reviews, additions and deletions to comply with the 30 page rule. This work also had to pass Rosemarie’s critical appraisal. To test the practical value of my intellectual effort my editor submitted the draft to her grandson, who had recently graduated from university and was set on entering the workforce. In his opinion it should be prescribed reading for school career advisers. This sounded promising and I decided that a second opinion from my daughter would not go amiss. She recently changed careers and found my advice in respect of her independent business start-up helpful. Undertaking this task made me reflect on the value of the good advice and assistance of several friends and supporters over the years, including several with a close connection to this community of faith. It also gave me the self-assurance that my life had not been wasted on material pursuits, and while of modest, but sufficient means as a consequence, I was leaving something behind that others could build on.
Why am I telling you all this? It is for the simple reason that I encounter too many people, who can remember many events in their upbringing in a loving home environment, but know very little about their parents’ occupational achievements. Very often they have retained a wrong perception of the purpose and consequences of their elders’ employment or professional practice and the outcomes thereof other than in financial terms.
If you have not already attended the Gottfried Lindauer Maori Portraits Exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery I encourage you to do so before 19 February. Our attendance on a Sunday provided the additional benefit of two presentations by direct descendants of some of the artist’s subjects. What impressed me was their knowledge and recall of their portrayed ancestors’ lifetime achievements and their living legacies that inspired them. Opening them to a wider audience also led to a greater understanding of the history of our country and the people, who played a role in it.
Lessons learned from experimentation shared also figure prominently in my current reading of “The Emperor of all Maladies”, a Biography of Cancer by eminent medical oncologist Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee. In it he documents the experiences and achievements of successive generations of researchers to lay a foundation for successful intervention and treatment that still escape us. If nothing else it gave me a better understanding of my illness and the effort and resources required to find a cure. Most of the scientists and medical practitioners featured in the book made this their life’s work.
Putting the lessons learned in a lifetime of gainful pursuits into print, with allowance for changes in digital technology may inspire future generations. I challenge you to follow my example.