BY MICHAEL RETTIG
In an increasingly fast-paced world, in which success is often measured by one’s monetary gains, it is important to remember to live with intention and awareness. On Tuesday, March 6, 2018, Megan A. Jendian delivered an apt reminder of this “intentional living” in her multimedia presentation, “In the [Spring] Time of Your Life;” an exploration of the concept of “time” as expressed in both William Saroyan’s literary writings and in unique features of the Armenian liturgical tradition.
On behalf of the Armenian Cultural Conservancy (ACC), Dr. Matthew Ari Jendian, professor and“department chair of sociology and director of Humanics@FresnoState, welcomed nearly 100 guests to the enrichment program at Woodward Park Regional Library, encouraged supporters to become members of ACC, and introduced his sister Megan as the evening’s presenter.
According to neuroscientific research, the brain perceives time differently based on one’s awareness and engagement with the present. Through highlighting the significance of the name, characters, and content of Saroyan’s 1939 play, The Time of Your Life, Jendian shared several examples of his sophisticated understanding of time and art which is often overlooked by his reviewers. Saroyan believed that successful art alters one’s awareness of time by intensifying one’s experience in the moment, thus creating a sense of timelessness.
As noted by Jendian, and detailed in David Calonne’s study of Saroyan’s writings, My Real Work is Being, the central philosophical concern in The Time of Your Life was the struggle for “true being” against the spiritual desert of modernity. Saroyan clearly stated: “My intention in creating art is to remind people to focus their attention on the splendid things: purity, innocence, natural humor, and the indistinctive capacity for renewal in thespirit of man.” This point is encapsulated by Joe, the main character in The Time of Your Life: “I want to live while I’m alive.”
In the second part of her presentation, Jendian shared four of many features of the Armenian faith tradition that exemplify their ancient “theology of time”: the cross & architecture, the alphabet (specifically the seventh letter, “eh”), the liturgical calendar, and the elaborate hymnography. Jendian noted that numerous hymns include the refrain “Today” and that the Armenian musical heritage serves as a point of connection that facilitates participation in a present moment that is both historical, yet not fully past.
Connecting us to the presence of the eternal, both Saroyan’s writings and the Armenian faith tradition remind us to awaken, open our eyes, and pay attention so we may revel in life’s moments of grace, truth, and life,” Jendian encouraged during the dandelion tea reception.. “Let this reflection be an invitation – in the springtime of your life – to look more deeply, see more clearly, and perhaps live your life as magnificent art.”
A native of Fresno, CA, Megan A. Jendian is a Saroyan literary enthusiast, graduate of the University of California, Irvine, and holds Master of Arts degrees from St. Nersess and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminaries. She currently contributes as an editor and consultant for several publications. Over the last decade, Jendian has co-created and implemented Diocesan curricula for retreat programs in New York, New England, the South, and the Midwest, provided 2017 Lenten presentations within Armenian communities of Racine, WI and Charlotte, NC, and continues to facilitate adult education seminars for parishes and organizations upon invitation.
Fresno’s Armenian Cultural Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, community benefit organization,“welcomes your membership. For further information, call (559)226-1984 or visit the website:“http://armenianculturalconservancy.org/