“Finally!”

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I was finally able to post my 50th anniversary report to Harvard. I thank especially Des who steered me in a productive direction. I had certainly made too big a deal out of it. Perhaps because, as I mentioned in a previous post, the questions included “what do you consider the most important accomplishment of the past fifty years?” When all was said and done, I realized that I don’t look at my life in terms of accomplishments. Instead, I wrote of my marriage, my teaching years, my family and my faith. It has been a rich fifty years, but very little of it had any relationship to my formal education.

My classmates included Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President and other notables. For many years I felt somehow inadequate when I answered the questionnaires every ten years about what I had been doing. I wasn’t racking up prizes and professorships and honors as were many of my former classmates. But at 71, those things really fade in importance for me. I look instead at the people in my life and am grateful that I put my time into relationships, not outside achievements.

(For the curious, the red arm band on the sleeve of my gown was a protest symbol. Harvard had used the Cambridge police force to deal with campus Viet Nam war protestors. At graduation we wore these arm bands to show our solidarity with our fellow students who had been assaulted.)

16 thoughts on ““Finally!”

  1. Success means something different to all of us, but we must learn to accept our own definitions. I find that my friends who are wealthy and well-known are happy with this success, but often envy the simplicity of other people’s lives. We can live, act, make mistakes etc without our lives being thrown under a microscope or risking lawsuits for a few ill-chosen words. Meanwhile, my friends who are not as successful by those terms, but who otherwise live happy and fulfilling lives, seem to battle with preferring their own path but sometimes wishing for that public level of success. Greener grass syndrome, I suppose! No age group is 100% immune.

        1. Oh, I meant the term literally. I meant I was literally budgeting meals the way one budgets money. Can I afford breakfast today? Or can I only eat lunch and maybe half a dinner? That kind of budgeting. 🙂

  2. I had to go back and find your original post. I remembered it, but I couldn’t remember my comment! I totally understand, and after all, who wouldn’t feel a little intimidated with so many well-known classmates?
    I’m really glad to read about your response and I’m honored that you mentioned me in your post! I knew you’d find a way respond in a modest, but accurate way as you mulled over your report. As it turns out, the things you chose to write about are the things that really matter to you. I guess that’s a part of being true to yourself. Thanks Elizabeth.

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