Topic Tank Tuesday: Baffling Memories

I don’t understand memories. I don’t. I love them. But have you ever stopped to think about what they are? Why do they even exist? Where do they come from? How real are they? How true? Questions make my mind twirl like a whirling dervish, so rather than spin myself sick, I pick at the issue with a pen and write nonsense about them!

Burst of memories gush into my mind today as I toil, fireworks illuminating dark surroundings in brilliant color-glow only for an instant before they burn away. I want them to stay. I want to gather these moments and weave them into something that shakes and stirs my heart and mind. I want to find every passage a delicious morsel of choice words—a pleasure to nibble upon, or in times of famine to dig into with relish and joy. Strength, I seek, and subtly—rich tastes combined with touches of soft sounds…

Memories arise rapidly, triggered by the strangest moments, events, instances. They are portals peering pensively into the past. Sometimes my view is just a glance, returning only for an isolated instant, but other times the trigger transports me to a familiar land, little visited, long abandoned, where I wander and explore and rediscover for hours on end. Why do we remember some things and not others? How often are those vivid memories true, I wonder? Are they authentic, or are they dream worlds which feel true and real, but are actually stitched together seamlessly from scattered scraps of yesterday, the handiwork of the invisible seamstress in my mind? So many layers of loveliness, loneliness, laughter, people, plans, paradoxes, sewn quietly into the colorful crazy quilt that is my life.

Details, decisions, delicate moments, tears, loves, languages, looseleaf papers, tea parties, homes around the globe, trials, terror, travels, tremendous miles, all tucked tidily away in memory boxes in the attic of my mind.

Memory is a magic window, looking out over the many places I’ve been privileged to roam. Lucky me, I carry the possibility to peak in on the past at any given time. Through the picture window, I am tied once again to every person I’ve ever known, met, seen. Oh, the wonders! I have viewed. I have heard. I have stepped. I have smelled. I have tasted and walked and sat and drank deeply of the familiar unknown. I was a stranger, connected, compelled, comprehending more completely the foreign than in the familiar I’d left behind. I have coaxed a cautious kitty on the snowy streets of Istanbul. I have stood in a dry river bed, surrounded by a sea of slight-framed, lovely, almond-eyed people in summer kimonos and wooden shoes, and seen the night sky explode with brilliant bursts of radiant color. I have been alone on the streets of Geneva wandering on foot from bank to bank, with an ATM card on the fritz and no money in my pocket to pay for somewhere to spend the night. I have spent nights stretched uncomfortably across airport chairs. I have lapped up scenes stolen, I swear, from dreams as I rode the wild Amazon river through the jungle, macaws overhead, egrets on floating meshes of water plants, schools of dolphins leaping beside the small boat as the hull slices through waves. Even if I never travel again, I still win, thanks to the memories making trails through my mind. (12/6/12)

143 The gassho houses in this small village in the mountains in Toyama-ken are the reason the village is a World Heritage Site.

A Gassho house in the mountain village of Gokayama in Toyama-ken, Japan. A dear friend lived in this area and invited me for a visit.


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