John and I met my aunt, uncle and my cousin’s family last night for dinner in San Francisco. It was a pleasant evening and we enjoyed seeing each other again so soon after our family reunion in August. I enjoyed the warm, cozy atmosphere of the restaurant and sipped a thick, foamy cappuccino laced with Kahlua. Yum. We talked about my aunt and uncles’ home in New Mexico, the traffic in Colombia where my cousin lives with her family, and how much we ate at the family reunion over the summer. My aunt gave John and I a photo album she made with pictures from the reunion. As I looked over the photos this morning, I realized how much I’ve changed since the summers I visited my cousins out at the Michigan lake when were children.
We’re all older now. We’re adults, some of us with children (or dogs) of our own, but in some ways it’s as if we haven’t really changed that much. We’re still the same people, with mostly the same personalities, just with more responsibilities and more life experiences. After looking at all our reunion pictures, I felt as if I had developed a slightly better perception of family – of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I was able to communicate better with my cousin Chrissy who is my own age. It didn’t seem that my cousins had changed much over the years. It seemed that I was the one who had changed. I don’t know if my family agrees with this or not. Maybe I still seem like the same person I was ten or fifteen or twenty years ago, but I don’t think I am.
I’ve learn to converse better. I’ve learned to be more social. I’ve learned to ask people questions about themselves instead of sitting silently while everyone else does all the talking. It takes effort and it can be challenging at times, but I’m doing it. I saw a great quote this morning on Facebook from the SGI Facebook page that reads:
The important thing is to not be fearful. Boldness builds a strong, undefeated self. – Daisaku Ikeda
I am challenging myself to be bold – to be as bold as I can be. This is necessary for me to be happy in life, to have a wonderful marriage, and to be a successful writer. Yesterday I spoke briefly with a homeless man I see occasionally when I walk Savannah along the bay in Sunnyvale. I had talked with him once before five or six months ago, and when I told him Savannah’s name, he remembered her! I was so surprised. He said to me, “You named her after a night club.” I couldn’t believe he remembered. I didn’t even remember telling him I had named Savannah after the Savanna Jazz Club in the Mission District in San Francisco. I read an article in the San Jose Mercury News about the nightclub’s owner (he wrote a book tracing the history of jazz and blues back to Africa) and decided to name her Savannah after the jazz club. Before we went our separate ways, I asked the man his name and wrote it down in my notepad so I wouldn’t forget. After all, he hadn’t forgotten about Savannah!