Memory

Memory perserves . . .

September 11, 2005

When I began today's journal entry, I couldn't help noticing the date, and remembering 9-11. Perhaps in contrast, the destruction of two twin towers and parts of the pentagon pale with the destruction of nearly an entire city. One was done consciously by terrorists and one was done impersonally by nature. New Yorkers reclaimed their city. Perhaps New Orleaners will reclaim their city, or they will move on to make new lives elsewhere. One thing they will reclaim, no matter their life choices, is the memory of their times there.

A thing, a person, a place may be taken from us, but what can't be taken away is that that thing, person or place DID exist. It is in our hearts where the significance lives. Thus it was, after Laura died, that I found comfort in an old Egyptian writing:

"Stars fade like memory the instant before dawn.
Low in the east the sun appears, golden as an opening eye.
That which can be named must exist.
That which is named can be written.
That which is written shall be remembered.
That which is remembered lives . . ."

- from the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.

That which is remembered lives.

Pardon an old poem:

MEMORY

Memory
Gathers up
    pieces of the past
to be placed
    like precious heirlooms  
gently
    into the velvet-box
of the heart.
And taken out
       fondly:
Time's treasures.

JAL, © 1985

Written twenty years ago. Dang! Who knew that time would go by so fast? I certainly didn't, twenty years ago. But it does, whether we are aware of it, or not. The unaware let time slip through their hands like so much water. And that water they might wish for when they are old and parched.

I live in the present, but it is all the memories of my past which are there in the subtle background of my consciousness. All that I have experienced is held in the hand of memory, the happy, the difficult, the triumphant, it is there. As I remember the past, I also embrace the present being more aware of the growth that has occurred. Without those memories, I have no measuring stick by which to measure this.

There's a Chinese proverb which declares "The best memory is not as good as pale ink." That was penned by a writer or artist who 'froze time' so that a previous moment could be perserved as it was. It's been nearly nine years of chronciling my life. Nearly nine years of savored bits. I celebrate each one. It is the mind of the writer which collects these bits. I do not live for 'the record'. But this record serves as a scrapbook of hoarded moments. The words and images cue my memory. It all comes back to memory.

This Spanish filmmaker said it so well:

"You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all, just as an intelligence without the possibility of expression is not really an intelligence. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing."
Luis Buñuel (1900–1983), My Last Sigh, ch. 1 (1983)

And so I savor these hoarded memory-aids, this record of my path.


crop of an old picture for the Mirror Project

Xeper!
scarab, sacred symbol of evolution, regeneration and transformation . . .

© Joan Ann Lansberry
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