It’s funny how small incidental moments that have no real personal meaning to us stick in our heads.
In 1976, I was a freshman in High School.
I remember early on in the year sitting by the window of a classroom that looked out over the student parking lot. Beyond the parking lot was a hill…the edge of the soccer field.
There were these two kids trying to climb the hill.
One was doing alright with the climbing…the other kid was alternately sliding and kind of cartwheeling down…over and over. He was kind of liquid…loose limbed and hilarious.
We were all laughing. I was laughing like I’d never stop.
“What’s wrong with him?” someone asked.
“He took 4 Quaaludes..” was the response to the question.
I didn’t know what a quaalude was.
A kid wants to be “hip”, though….so I pretended to know what would make a kid spend part of a morning rolling down a grassy hill. The answer to the question was “4 quaaludes”.
I don’t know why that joins my many memories. I remember it vividly…and I can’t imagine why.
Memory is a funny thing. It comes and goes and comes around again…kind of like the tide could re-write what it had erased the last time it came through.
I have strong memories of so many things…and then can’t remember where I put my hat the last time I laid it down. I don’t think it’s a matter of concentration…I wasn’t concentrating on some kid on dope rolling down a random hill…it’s just kind of random and magical. Hard to figure out.
The first time I saw my wife I think something internal told me in a silent way that I would remember it forever.
In the moment, it felt like something that was going to shift me somehow…but paying that kind of attention to it would be sort of crazy, wouldn’t it? Ministers talk about getting the “calling”….I think I got a calling that night. It was a strange feeling.
I think that some people think that everything that happens to us is some kind of accident…like something was rolling downhill and we couldn’t get out of the way in time.
I don’t believe that.
We try to back away from things that happen to us…like it really was something accidental that didn’t really mean anything. If we can make ourselves believe that it wasn’t something important…just some strange random incidental thing that happened…we have a good excuse for the times when we’ve screwed things up.
We carry it all…but what we remember is flexible and random.
They say that when a person goes through dementia…goes through Alzheimers…that many times they can’t remember the name of the person sitting with them…but they can remember what seat they sat in when they were eating in the mess hall during the war.
I don’t know why things work like that. Maybe the present has to get out of the way for the past to be able to come swimming up from somewhere else in our minds….I don’t really know.
I have a wealth of good memories.
That is my real wealth if I have any. I’ve been blessed with a lot of really wonderful memories.
Those good memories are the ones I work at remembering.