The pictures on the front were taken at the same shallow and meandering river in Ohio – the left foreground image about 60 years after the background group. The woman on the left of the background group (Florence) is the grandmother of the foreground woman. The rest in the background are great aunts and uncles. But, on the day that picture was taken, they were brothers and sisters out for a day of fun on the river. They stood in the present and likely were wonderfully unaware of it sliding moment by moment into the past. They were probably aware of the future coming toward them – anticipation – the picnic lunch yet to come, the freedom to dash about in the river – to make a splash – to make the day their own.
As we stand in the present, the voice of the past speaks to us. We are formed in ways we cannot account for with commonplace notions of cause and effect. We are shaped by history (personal and societal), tradition, life experience, grandma’s ability to sew (and make pretty impressive Halloween costumes), the values of the world around us, and the unfulfilled and unspoken aspirations of those with whom we share life. We see, we hear, we sense, we read, we experience, we aspire, we respond (as life happens) – and we filter and shape it all through our own emerging worldview, our ability to reflect and make meaning, and our creative imagination. We are singular creatures each of us. What each of us has to offer the world and one another cannot be duplicated. The ideas we generate, how and when we share them, what we do (or don’t do) with our talents, what we support in others, what we imagine, how we see and act on truth and possibilities, and what we choose to make (or not) – no one else will ever do exactly what we can and choose to do. We change the world by our very presence – what we do with and for others will define the future.
We stand in the present – and with every thought and action we are creating the future. Amazing when you think about it.
I suppose such thoughts often come to us at the beginning of the New Year, perhaps moreso at the University where the work focuses on shaping the future of the communities we serve, the students who entrust their futures to us, and the University in a changing and prescient time.
So, it’s time to roll up one’s pant legs (or whatever that is Florence has rolled up in that picture) and step into the river of time, as 2012 becomes 2013. We are those who will make the world of 2073, both a wonderful and remarkable challenge. Those who step into the river in 60 years are counting on us. Maybe we should start the work of future making with a good picnic lunch (accompanied by an open heart, substantial and reflective habits of mind, the ability to play kept alive, an active imagination, and a capacity for persistence and hope regardless of what obstacles confront us).
We, the wonderfully singular set of individual talents and minds that make up the Tseng College, wish you a New Year focused forward – full of future-making (and a good number of romps in the river).
Dean Joyce Feucht-Haviar
and all those cause advancers and possibility creators that the Tseng College comprises
Card design: Marketing Communications, The Tseng College | tsengcollege.csun.edu