I have been contemplating lately just how much relationships are the single most influential factor in the course of any life.  And I am proud that I have instinctually lived my life by the wisdom of this tenet thus far.

I think this cherished personal value is most evident in the Writing Studies community I have had the pleasure of building in the School of English Studies at Kean University.  In mentoring so many wonderful students over the years, I have continually learned so much.  I consider it one of the great blessings of my life, to have the opportunity to think and grow with so many special kinds of people.  Simply put, I keep learning and growing because of each and every student I have connected with.  Each year at graduation, my heart is simultaneously proud and a bit sad at the passing of another phase of unique sharing.

It has been a busy past few days.  This past weekend happened to be the 50th anniversary of my parent’s wedding.  My family gathered in their home on Seabrook Island (off of the coast of Charleston, SC) for a special and intimate celebration of their accomplishment.  You can catch a glimpse of the love that has come as a result of their promise in this family collage:

My Mom and Dad’s bond and commitment to each other has yielded great love and growth over time.  And make no mistake, it has not been without hardship.  For what great life has forgone some struggle with frustration, loss, or significant challenge?  But while reflecting on the meaning of their sacred promise some 50 years ago, I have come to the conclusion that the quality of the life you build is directly related to the quality of the relationships you nurture and grow throughout.  And this is not necessarily always an easy thing to get right….

After returning from the special weekend, I touched back down in NJ and made my way directly to Kean University’s Graduate School graduation ceremony.  Journalist Norah O’Donnell addressed my Kean graduate students with thoughtfulness, stating out loud my own private musings during the plane ride back home a few hours before:

Her words seemed an uncanny echo of an important truth.  A truth that we need to remember and uphold more than ever.