In "A Promised Land,” the latest memoir by President Barack Obama, there is a passage describing a moment late one night when he is unable to sleep. As Democratic candidate Obama, the time is recalled as a very private one in which he thinks of the people that matter to him most — describing the process as a silent inventory.
He thinks of his wife Michelle, his two young daughters, the senior team, his loyal friends and even the young organizers and volunteers that have brought him to this moment in spring 2008 on the precipice of the Democratic convention. And he writes of the American people who "[placed] their faith in a young and untested newcomer” too.
Although our silent inventories may not always be as life altering, I would contend that for most people, it's not if we do silent inventories, but when. I believe this inventory likely occurs at one of two ends in our "daily living" spectrum: either in a moment of thanksgiving or reckoning, or at one of the lowest, saddest times a human can experience.
In a moment of thanksgiving it is a quiet expression of gratitude for loved ones, their health, support and care. In a moment of incredible loss, it is an accounting of the blessings that remain. I can think of no other activity that is quite as humbling as a silent inventory can be.
And there's no time of day best suited for such an inventory, but now I can relate to President Obama's nighttime reference because the darkness and solitude, being alone with nothing but your thoughts is one of the few chances to deflect this new world so filled with distractions.
So in the dark night, my silent inventory is made of ideas about the present and what I can count upon in the days ahead. It is also made up of thoughts for the future with hope that the unknown will be safe and joyful — filled less with anxiety and fear. It is privately counted, recounted and reconsidered. And sometimes, when I catch myself inserting the silent inventory into words of unexpected prayer, I hope I'll have the faith to believe that we will be better, live better, love better than I calculated the day before.
A contributing writer to the Herald since 2012, Lauren Lev is an East Meadow resident and a direct marketing/advertising executive who teaches marketing fundamentals as well as advertising and marketing communications courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology and SUNY Old Westbury.