Skip to main content

A time I will not see

May 14, 2015 09:49AM ● Published by Katelyn Nelson

by Roger Breisch

I love Neil Postman’s insight, even though it speaks so forcefully of my own mortality. There will be, in the briefest of moments, a time I will not see.

None of us will be remembered. My children, and a few of their friends perhaps, will remember me, as will the next generation, albeit with far less intensity. If I am remembered a third or fourth generation hence, it will be at most in wisps…an occasional anecdote, image or memory. Beyond that I am quite certain the human whose moniker was Roger Breisch will be long forgotten.

But Postman reminds me of a different kind of immortality. Any time humans imprint wisdom upon one another, each moves into the future carrying the messages learned from the other. Thoughts change, actions change and the future becomes something new. When we have the unique opportunity to touch the lives of children and young adults, there is the possibility some small piece of us will live into a more distant—and different—future. That thought bring tears to my eyes when a teen at Snowball, or a young caller on the suicide hotline, admits to some new thought or understanding as a result of our few moments together.

But that view puts me at the center, as progenitor of messages to the future. What if I am not?

Last summer I attended my 45th high school reunion. Ed Deyman, a classmate, reproduced with pen & ink all 250 portraits from our senior yearbook—his reproduction of my portrait appears above.

The image was large, perhaps 12 by 15 inches. From the moment I saw it, I was astonished how well Ed captured the young man I knew those many years ago. When we returned home, I unfurled the portrait on the kitchen counter. I was struck how the eyes followed me regardless of the angle from which I tried to elude them. 

Suddenly, the ink on paper came to life. As I peered with more care and a bit of compassion, it was no longer simply a sketch on the counter—the person I knew so intimately for the first 18 years of his life was staring at me. It was an unexpected moment of intimacy between two people who knew one another well, but each had somehow forgotten the other existed.

His eyes seemed to look deeper into me than any other I could recall. It was as if that young man could see me, the man he was to become, in the same way I could see him. He was able to examine the life he was to live. I could hold nothing back, since he would see every moment of joy and grace, and live into every mistake, from the minuscule to those that remain intensely painful.

For nearly a year, that young man has stared at me expectantly, and I have struggled to discern what it is he might be asking.

Then recently it came to me. Just as today, I show up in the lives of young people with as much authenticity as I can so they might discern a message that fits their lives, in the years when that image was first captured, there were hundreds of adults whose lives taught me something unique about what it means to be human. “Are you,” that young man seems to be asking me today, “living with integrity, sincerity and love into the messages those extraordinary humans formed within us?”

Suddenly, in the world I now discern, I am the carrier rather than progenitor of messages. It is humbling to remember I am simply the medium through which their wisdom is gifted to the future. If, along the way, I add some small bit of insight to theirs, then I too will live into untold generations yet unborn. But for now, I will try, with integrity, sincerity and love, to be the living message they hoped I might be in order to ensure their lives live into the time they can no longer see. 

Roger E. Breisch is a resident of Batavia. REBreisch.net

 

Arts+Culture, Today Drawing
  • 32nd Annual Craft & Vendor Show

    10/21/2017
    09:00AM — 03:00PM

    This show spotlights a selection of arts and crafts designed and created by the artist and also a...


  • 32nd Annual Craft & Vendor Show

    10/21/2017
    09:00AM — 03:00PM

    This show spotlights a selection of arts and crafts designed and created by the artist and also a...


  • Low Cost Pet Vaccine Clinic in Lisle

    10/21/2017
    09:00AM — 01:00PM

    Every Saturday from 9:00AM-1:00PM the Pet Well Clinic in Lisle offers affordable vaccines, microc...


  • Sculpture on the Prairie

    10/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Fine Line Creative Arts Center is proud to annouce it's first Sculpture on the Prarie exhibit. E...


  • Geneva Park District's Kids' Zone Hiring Event

    10/21/2017
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Join us at Sunset Community Center between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm for our Kids’ Zone Hiring Event, ...


  • Million Dollar Quartet

    10/21/2017
    01:30PM

    Paramount Theatre's rollicking 2017-18 Broadway Series opener is Million Dollar Quartet, the wild...


  • ZOMBIES WANTED

    10/21/2017
    02:30PM — 09:00PM

    Interested in becoming a zombie? We need volunteers, ages 14 & older, to be transformed into the ...


  • Zombie Apocalypse!

    10/21/2017
    04:30PM — 08:00PM

    It's a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! Will you survive? Participants will navigate the land of the un-dead...


  • Comedy at Zanies

    10/21/2017
    07:30PM

    See nationally known comics along with some of the country’s hottest new talents for a night full...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • Live Music

    10/21/2017
    09:00PM — 11:55PM

    Join us on historic Bourbon Street in Jambalaya at Pheasant Run Resort for live bands every Satur...


  • Comedy at Zanies

    10/21/2017
    09:45PM

    See nationally known comics along with some of the country’s hottest new talents for a night full...


  • Nature Tykes (for 3 year olds)

    10/26/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    In this program, for 3-year olds and their parents, grandparents or guardians, we’ll explore the ...


  • Sculpture on the Prairie

    10/26/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Fine Line Creative Arts Center is proud to annouce it's first Sculpture on the Prarie exhibit. E...


  • Little Naturalists

    10/26/2017
    01:00PM — 02:00PM

    In this hour-long program for 4-5-year olds, children will discover the wonders of nature through...


  • Million Dollar Quartet

    10/26/2017
    01:30PM

    Paramount Theatre's rollicking 2017-18 Broadway Series opener is Million Dollar Quartet, the wild...


  • Mandate for Murder

    10/26/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Playhouse 38’s 4th Annual Murder Mystery Politics can be murder! It’s election night and all t...


  • Haunted Who-Done-It?

    10/26/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    We’re teaming up with the Geneva Public Library to offer nature programs for adults in their twen...


  • Comedy at Zanies

    10/26/2017
    08:00PM

    See nationally known comics along with some of the country’s hottest new talents for a night full...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


Neighbors Magazines
Neighbors Magazines, 28 South Water Street, Batavia, IL 60510, 630-995-3482, www.welcometoneighbors.com
Contact us