I haven’t been able to get Aidan’s thoughtful post yesterday about the ways memory holds and haunts us out of my head (I guess it is holding and haunting me).
What strikes me, though, as I run through my own most prized and cherished memories, is how often they are not from the Big Days but, in fact, from the most mundane, regular days. How the things I hold most dear are things that happened in the grout between the tiles of life’s big experiences. Often they are things, moments, people that I may not have even realized were as important as they are when they were happening.
I can think of times in my life, very few, where I have been utterly present and simultaneously aware that I’m living something that I will very soon wish I was back in. Mostly, though, it is after the fact that I realize how special or moving an experience was, and I wish I could have lived it more consciously and with more awareness.
In those few moments when I know I’m living something special, a line from Tintern Abbey always comes to mind: “in this moment there is life and food for future years.” You may mock me for brandishing good old Wordsworth, but that poem… wow, is it full of great lines. In fact it is an entire meditation on precisely this topic: what we remember, why, and how some memories can sustain us.
I also, often, find myself hearing over and over a single line from Colin Hay’s gorgeous song, Waiting for My Real Life to Begin: “Just be here now.” If only I could. I try, oh I try! And when I succeed … there are no words.
I suppose what I am saying is that the memories that I come back to, rubbing over in my mind like a hand worrying a smooth stone in my pocket, are sometimes from days and moments that look utterly unremarkable, unmemorable, on the surface. The memories are often triggered by surprising things: some songs, other songs, certain smells, the way light falls on leaves at certain times of day. If it is the quiet moments of mundane days that end up staying with me, that implies that every experience has the potential to become one of these touchstone memories. Which, in turn, reminds me (yet again) that I need to work harder at being present.