The importance of remembering: if not now, when?

Editorial & Opinion, Wednesday, November 14, 2007, p. A8

Where did October go? I remember Thanksgiving and trick-or-treating, but if not for that, I’d think I’d been robbed. I simply don’t remember the month; and this is happening more and more to more and more of us. The busier our lives get, the more likely we are to miss out on living.

Blame it on kids, cost of living, consumption patterns, work deadlines, and endless to-do lists, many of us are working towards the future and missing out on many important todays.

Personally, I wonder if I’ll remember to schedule in my nervous breakdown, because now is certainly not the appropriate time for it to happen.

Remembering is a very important part of our existence. It roots us to family, culture, traditions, and society. So here are a few things worth remembering.

Remember to say please and thank you. As Canadians, we are known for being polite: let’s keep it up and remember the magic words. The importance of thank yous cannot be underestimated in both our personal and professional lives. Take time to notice the little things, and comment on them: your wife’s new hairdo; the house being particularly tidy; the kids being funny or loving; your colleague finishing something before deadline; a stranger holding the door for you, etc.

Remember to forgive and apologize. There is no prison more tortuous than the self-inflicted one of anger, grudge carrying, and resentment; especially when it’s so simple to let it go. Be the bigger person and walk away.

Remember to stay in touch with friends and family and establish a work-life balance. A friend’s wife once said that no matter how important you think you are at work, if you drop dead tomorrow the workplace will move on and you will be forgotten relatively quickly. Your family and close friends, on the other hand, will notice your absence, be affected deeply, and mourn you for years, if not for a lifetime. So put the time in where you should. Pick up the telephone, send an e-mail or letter. Book a trip, plan a visit, and invite people to dinner. Connect, stay connected, and be present.

Remember to be passionate about what you believe in. We have one life, one chance at being memorable, one chance at contributing and making the world a better place. Don’t be afraid to take a stand; don’t be afraid to swim against the current. Chances are, if you blaze the trail, others will follow. Remember that you can make a difference: blindly accepting the status quo is not good enough.

Remember to be thankful for your wonderful life (this is different than saying thank you, unless you are looking to the heavens when you say it). No matter what trials and tribulations you are facing personally, or as a family, we are living in a blessed time. It is a peaceful time, with an overabundance of everything.

Nov. 11 gives us the opportunity to think about how wonderful our lives are because of our veterans, soldiers and peace keepers, and to remember those who died too young. There will always be world conflicts, but really, what major tragedies have we faced in Canada in the last 60 years? Hopefully, it will be a long time in the future before we look back on this time and realize how good we had it.

Remember to respect others, their cultures and their differences. Treat others as you want to be treated.

Remember that you aren’t owed anything.Remember to recycle and reduce consumption. Remember to live healthy: exercise, and eat your fruits and vegetables. Remember to find time for yourself and for yourself and your partner. Remember that children spell love T-I-M-E. Remember that this is not a dress rehearsal. Remember that words can hurt. Remember to be yourself.

Remember that one day, not that far in the future, you may not be able to remember.

Remember to act the way that you want to be remembered. Do you want to be remembered as petty? Unethical? Self-serving? Mean? Selfish? Busy or distracted? Or do you want to be remembered as kind, honest, generous, having integrity, being hard-working, a loving friend, partner, family member, and community-minded?

Remember that it is already Nov. 14. Did you remember to respect two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day? If you did, did you remember to think about our wonderful quality of life in Canada and the sacrifices made by our soldiers, peacekeepers and veterans? Or did you start thinking about what you had to accomplish this week?

Time is not slowing down. Soon, if you’re like me, you’ll be forgetting years, not months, weeks, days, hours, or minutes. Cherish them all. Remember to remember. And my heart goes out to those who forget.

Nadine Robinson is a freelance writer and a marketing and communications consultant. Her column appears every other Wednesday. Contact her at

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