It’s tempting to reduce life to a meme, to a slogan. The process shrinks a big scary world into something small enough to be folded, put away, stored until you need it.
On their best days, memes point you in the direction of truth. On their worst, they are jingoistic rallying cries, desert mirages, a fence between us and them.
Take the 9/11 meme of “never forget.” Nope, we won’t forget about it. The images of the planes crashing into the world trade center is seared into the brains of every sentient being on this planet. But the meme itself seems to be about conveying other meanings, from the triumphant patriotism of “We’re Still Here” to the aggressive bigotry of “Kill Them Muslims.”
Take an organization named Komen, or its founder’s oft-repeated elevator speech about a promise she made to her sister. When we hear the word Komen, we might think pink ribbons and foot races. We might think of poorly allocated assets and wasted potential. But how many of you can close your eyes right now and conjure a picture of the woman herself, Susan G. Komen?
While this bumper sticker way of being in the world releases you from the heavy burden of critical thought, it also imprisons you in a tiny box that values sticking to your guns over staying open to possibility.
I say this all as a way of introducing a remembrance. Not dwelling; although I know there is a fine line. Getting busy living doesn’t mean that you pretend you got here all on your own. So today I’m thinking of three people who’ve had an influence on my life.
Improbably, two of them died of breast cancer on the same day – today – four years ago. They were giants in my online world of connection and advocacy, but also they were gloriously human.
I saw a post today from Joe Neyer’s son on Facebook. Today he would have turned 50 if not for the brain tumor that claimed him last April.
I am honored to have taken a few steps with each of them.
If you have a few minutes today, visit their blogs. Read the articles about them. Breathe in their richness. Remember.
And celebrate by living your life.
Rachel Cheetham Moro, 8/2/1970-2/6/2012, Cancer Culture Chronicles
Susan Niebur, 4/13/1973 -2/6/2012, Toddler Planet
Joe Neyer, 2/6/66-4/23/2015 – Article from Cincinnati Enquirer