Travel, summer, rock walls and rasberries bring bittersweet reflection

I’ve always loved reading Ellen Goodman’s columns when I’ve come across them. Yesterday, was another. Her recent column’s theme is one that anyone can reflect upon to divine the relationship to ones own life.

Goodman, while on vacation in Maine, notices the rock walls built in the 19th-century and wonders about the people who made them. She wonders if they knew they were done with a wall when putting one last rock into place. The walls are now in various states of remains. Seeing them prompts Goodman’s reflections on permanence and transience.

The walls are a symbol for our own lives. While thinking about Randy Pausch, the professor who recently died of cancer, but before he did, he created the video and book, “The Last Lecture,” Goodman sees how people have an urge to create permanent markers in their lives. But, the permanence, as seen by the walls, will eventually give way to transience.

She offers up taking pictures of grandchildren as an example. As if snapping a picture of a six-year-old will somehow hold him or her in place.

Along crumbling walls, though, Goodman notices, are sweet berries to be relished. That’s where the bittersweet comes in. With loss, gain can be seen, often in the same moment. Goodman points to a recent birth in her family that has happened at the same time a beloved family member is dying.

So, what have I reflected on through Goodman’s reflections?

I’m thinking about how when we travel to places that we will never see again, as long as we remember them, they will forever stay that wonderful find, that glorious meal, and a sky that was a vibrant blue when we sat at the beach looking out to the horizon.

(In particular, I have a certain few days in Skopelos, Greece the summer after I graduated from college in mind.)