This week an 89-year-old woman gave me a book to read by Erik Larson, The Splendid and the Vile. It’s about Churchill’s and Britain’s Defiance of Hitler. It’s a documentary of sorts in book form. It seems that it was a national imperative and project that began in 1937. Hundreds if not thousands of Brits kept diaries to make observations about the war. From this vast store of written first hand accounts and impressions that the book is drawn.
It’s hundreds of pages long. This morning I was recounting two tiny decisions or events that were pivotal in allowing me to exist at all.
The first involves my Grandfather in Vienna who along with his family were being deported in 1942. German soldiers heading to the Balkans needed housing in Vienna and the most reasonable thing to do was to deport Jews. Now they weren’t told they were being sent to concentration camps. Oh no. The story was that the Germans had prepared nice little farms and villages in Poland where they would have ample room to grow vegetables and every village would have it’s own doctor. Grandfather along with his wife and 3 daughters, my mother the youngest at 8 years of age, boarded a passenger train headed for a new little farm. Each person was allowed one small bag. My Grandfather had the foresight and I am sure as did many others to pack a trade tool. They had heard through the grapevine, that they might be headed to a concentration camp or work camp. They hoped for a work camp. In the middle of the night, in the Ukraine, the “passengers” were told to disembark in the middle of nowhere. A train of cattle cars were brought alongside and the hopes of a little farm in Poland vanished. In inhuman conditions, young and old, healthy and in-firmed were loaded for the rest of the journey to Minsk.
Then came the sorting.
Healthy and skilled workers were allowed into the camp. Old and in-firmed and children were less fortunate. No use for them. Extra mouths to feed weren’t on the list, if you couldn’t work. There’s was to be a one way ticket to the afterlife. My mother was 8, so she was shunted to the one-way ticket line, when my Aunt who was 18, interceded and convinced the SS officer to allow her little sister to stay with her father and mother. Grandfather at the appropriate time displayed his mason’s trough and said, “Ich bin ein arbeiter.” [I am a worker.]
The family remained intact for a time but Grandmother and the eldest sister, Regina, were eliminated. A big loss for a small family. Yet 3 of my relatives survived the camp with a total number of only 16 known survivors of the Maly-Trotstinets camp. Life is precarious and we only have the present moment to live in. The past is archived. The future hasn’t happened yet. The decisions we make in the moment carry great weight.
My grandfather’s foresight to pack a tool to prove his usefulness and my Aunt’s willingness and courage to speak up to the sorting officer were tiny little pivot points in a long journey that provided a means for my forebears to survive and for my mom to make it to America in 1950. Otherwise, I could not have written this.
You’ve heard me say it before, that big doors swing on little hinges. Along with “a stitch in time saves nine.” Not to forget “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Why are these little things important? In the grand scheme of life, certain seeming insignificant decisions, habits, attitudes have great weight and bearing on the results and outcomes we achieve.
Our game of health has rules and the best way to win the game is to increase the odds of having favorable outcomes. That’s why I am a health coach and why I provide a supplement service to help people get better outcomes. Six capsules of True Omega-3 a day may seem like a lot to do in one day but we divide it into 2 or 3 doses and it’s less than a minute a day to complete the mission with the outcome that you get better blood lipid profile scores, you have cleaner, clearer arteries and you’ve increased your chances of living a long and healthy life! Not bad for a minute of work each day.
Don’t overthink it. Just do it as Nike famously says a million times a day. You can thank me on your 95th birthday.
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I know everyone has a story of how life changed for better or worse based on little seemingly insignificant pivots. I’d be grateful if you write to me or leave a comment.