Ranger Kathryn's Arches

November 28, 2011

Provoking nostalgia

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:24 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve inadvertently stumbled upon a major nostalgia-inducer. My old Nokia cell phone was so ancient, all its data had to be transferred by hand to my new device. One by one, I viewed each name and phone number while tapping them into my shiny-but-intimidating iPhone. The minute I spent on each one yielded a flood of memories — and unexpected insights. It was something of a Life In Review, in collapsed form.

Some numbers I’ll never use again. One person was dead. Others were from a past chapter of my life, and I haven’t stayed in contact. These I passed over without transferring; lessons in letting go.

Some stirred a pang of missing, that old “Why has it been so long since I’ve talked with them?” Lessons in re-prioritizing.

Some numbers are in there “just in case”: Poison Control (added after a colleague was stung by a scorpion),  Sheriff’s Dispatch (added after a ranger was shot last year). Lessons in preparedness.

Some are resource people — archeologist, wildlife biologist. Lessons in the value of inside information.

Some numbers are new friends, ones I’m just getting to know and love. (There is a lot of that in the Park Service.) Lessons in starting anew, being open to and present with each person who enters my life.

Some are old bosses and co-workers. Lessons in networking.

Some are professionals whose expertise has made my life so much smoother: doctor, pastor, plumber, accountant, massage therapist. Lessons in gratitude.

Many numbers are in Minnesota, many are in Utah; others are scattered all over kingdom come. Lessons in global connectedness.

Some are current colleagues, accomplished teammates who help each other perform our duties to the best of our abilities. Lessons in “got your back.”

Some numbers were called so often I still have them memorized from the old days, when you dialed by number instead of name. Lessons in enduring relationship, friendships deepened over years of doing life together. Rootedness.

Finally, a precious handful made it to my “Favorites” list. You know who you are. There’s nobody like you on earth, and just looking at that screen sends warmth through my being. Living lessons in unconditional love.


Leave a comment: What other lessons can you learn from your cell phone?


  1. I may be one of the last holdouts to resist getting a cell phone. As such, I still learn my lessons the hard, old-fashioned way, but the lessons are similar from outdated, handwritten lists and numbers stored in my head. The ever-changing nature of our brief tenure here on earth, and the need to redeem the time, strikes me from the many memories associated with phone # lists. Congrats on your new i – phone.

    Comment by Bill — November 28, 2011 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

    • I know one other man who refuses to own one. This is a choice I respect. In both of you, it speaks of a desire to be more connected to people and places than to an electronic tether. I’m not sure that “congrats” is in order; I’m finding my iPhone frighteningly addictive and may need to join a support group to keep from falling into the black hole of all the apps one can download, the limitless supply of knowledge and resources it can provide.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — November 29, 2011 @ 10:49 am | Reply

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