Master Chief Morales put my chair in front of his desk before handing me a small recorder. I was his personal secretary, and transcribing was one of my first tasks. Someone could put a gun to my head today and still I’d not be able to recall one word of those recordings. All I remember was pressing play, stop, rewind, play, stop, again and again, in order to capture his memos.

If the words were captured accurately, their tone naturally agreed. When I left, he said I was the best secretary he’d ever had, even though I only worked with him for a few months. Those few months were long enough to know that his use of the word best was really a challenge to be better.

He passed away years ago, but because I was so impressionable, and because his memos were drafted for the purpose of holding others accountable, he’d left me with a sense of wanting to be better at capturing what my spirit, hands, skin and eyes recorded, so that I could report back on life experiences by first taking ownership of the play and stop buttons hidden behind my actions.

There was a pause button on that recorder too, but I rarely used it. It took several decades to understand its value.