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Past, Present & Future

I was going through emails this morning as if clearing my mind of thoughts that were no longer useful or necessary and leaving room for the important and the essentials. I came upon my Serendip collection of emails—sent, received and drafts mostly from years past, when in communication with Paul Grobstein. Unlike other emails, none of those relating to Serendip, were appropriate for deletion. There was nothing to throw out, nothing that did not hold meaning and significance since the year 2008, when my first contribution to Serendip was posted: “Disability: Images and Thoughts.” It’s as if there was no break in time since those first communications with Paul, Laura, Alice, and Ann at this very special online crucible of knowledge, creativity, playful thinking, and profound utterances. Having had to concentrate on my work as a school social worker, studies as a doctoral student in disability studies and negotiating a rather complicated and painful breakup of an 8-year relationship, caused me to put aside a number of years ago, an opportunity to contribute to a fascinating undertaking: the Breaking Project.

There have been a number of breaks in my life since that initial opportunity. There was the need to terminate my career as a school social worker, due to failing memory and organization skills, stemming from a closed head injury as a pedestrian when I was in my teens. It was particularly heart “breaking” in that I was never able to apply what I learned from from my doctoral, academic experience and teachings to my profession. I also broke from my residence in Chicago to move in (and move out almost as quickly) with my sister (to save money) in North Carolina, only to find that we were as incompatible living together now as we were as young siblings. Breaking with my doctoral education was an accomplishment after 8 years of attending classes, writing papers and completing a dissertation, but it required me to break from professors, fellow students and a routine I had grown to appreciate and depend upon for stability as someone with ADHD, inattentive type. Another major break was the death of my 94 year-old mother, who until just weeks before her passing, eagerly read each page of my dissertation as soon as I finished writing them. I remember her comment, which was supposed to be one of pride and satisfaction from a parent to a child: “I never knew you were this intelligent!” There have been other painful breaks, especially the passing of Professor Grobstein and my psychiatrist of ten years who never mentioned his battle with leukemia.

All these broken pieces remain as memories from my past (redundant?), but are coming together in the present as iron filings making a swift and ready path to a horseshoe magnet. Making current contact with Serendip as a contributor feels like cellophane tape holding those iron filings into place. So what this means is, I would like to ‘stick’ around Serendip once again, and revisit my original contribution on mental health, diversity, art, and the brain from 2008: “Disability: Images and Thoughts” and bring it to the present where we can share insights, engage in mutual dialogue and perhaps even cultivate some epiphanies. By the way, student and visitor comments on my art images and narratives back in 2008, were instrumental in my development of a new concept to the field of disability studies and focus of my dissertation: the Impaired Self. Who knows? Lightning might strike twice and bring profound insight from our collective thoughts, which could find a way into the book I am currently writing on the subject.

I am reminded of an anonymous quote on the subject of past and future. It seems fitting at this juncture, to put these two concepts into context:

“Inhale the future. Exhale the past.”

To me, it means it is not a requirement to break from the past as much as it is to have benefitted and learned from it. It is also not necessary to force circumstances in our future to occur, as much as it is to approach them. What does it mean to you?

Breaking Project Author/Creator: 
David A. Feingold, Ed.D


Serendip Visitor's picture


I can't inhale for I see no future....

Serendip Visitor's picture

Inhale & know it will be ok & Exhale out the stress & pain

I really appreciate reading this by the return to the Serendip as she has ADHD & achieved a lot & a brain injury I have never used my brain & had a few head injuries through being assaulted & always believing my brain was useless as I often heard this from my parents so growing up yes it wasn't good so Ive struggled & felt no reason to believe anything else I did badly in life & amounted to nothing even failed as a parent so until I was told iam not a nutjob by a professional I want to try to see what iam capable of but iam waiting to do some tests on my brain & to test my cognitive skills if any lol & have it on paper so its concluded once & for all then I will see what I can do with what little concentration I have but I don't want that to stop me from feeling im not stupid .