In Part, Why We Do It

It wasn’t five minutes ago that I stood in the middle of a wide open field.  The air was cold.  Crystals of snow tickled my cheeks.  The sky was dark…the trees, etched in fine detail against the street lamps.  Snow crunched under foot.  My border collie, Max, charged wildly in circles.  When his face looked up at me, it was white apart from his dark eyes, sparkling like coal and like everything around me.  The sensory experience brought back two memories.

For one, I remembered walking home from the airplane hangar that doubled in winter, as a skating rink for military children.  My friends and I would laugh and talk all the way home, one at a time, veering off in the direction of a PMQ…home…warmly lit up on a winter’s night, the collective shrinking in size, the longer we walked. Boots, stiff from the frigid air.  That same crunch under foot.  Leaping into banks, harder and more lumpy than they appeared and piled high on the sides of the road.  Snow packed in swaths shone under street lamps like sheets of cellophane.  A recent plough must have just passed by.  We walked down the center of the road.  No cars. No traffic.  Voices echoing.

Secondly, I thought about my own father throwing a ball for his treasured pet, Gus.  I could look out from my window at 42 Market Street, to the huge field across the street and plainly see my father throwing the ball over and over again, repetitiously and Gus, speeding back like black lightening as many times..  As I threw the whizzo for Max Man in MY field tonight, the repeated action brought up a memory of my father and another dog that, at the time and even now, means the world to me.

Childhood.

So, tonight, similar feelings bubbled up inside me.  I heard myself saying out loud in the field, “I want to remember this moment.”

When my first born was in my arms, I held her close and touched the downy fuzz on the top of her head.  Tears slipping warm down my cheek, I said, “I don’t want to forget this.  Let this moment stay with me. Let me remember.”  Tonight that wee child is a beautiful woman with a husband and the ability to cook amazing meals, nestled in her own home, discovering all of this, apart.

This has been happening a lot lately.  On the day when I had to let go of our family pet, I spent the entire day alone with him…observing…touching the small imperfections of his ears…looking at the patterns on his tail and his tummy, wanting to remember…the joys of the 15 year relationship by some how remembering the details of his physical body, his warm breath, his purring, his gestures.

These and many more experiences (too many to relate here) have come up for me recently, but these do not, the revelation make! (Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury).  The revelation is that these experiences, in part, are why we write…why we paint…why we play music.  I think that we do these things as a way of recollection or floating, as in resin, our experiences, our memories, and our treasured sensory discoveries.

Tonight…Remembrance Day 2014 slips away.  We have remembered through music, poetry, verse, stories and the simple beauty of a red poppy.  Through these rituals, our lives as a creative, struggling, discovering, failing, flopping, getting-up-again people are rehearsed and remembered.

I have written about a crystalline winter’s night, so I will remember.

Poppy3

 

I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything

Oh what have we here, he must be three or four,
Shaken out of a boot on its way back to war
And hes not looking for a father or a mother,
Just a seven year old brother,
On this smudged line border camp of refugees,
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
So where are we now, he must be five or six,
Just running around, hungry kids, sharpened sticks.
And he will grow with pain and fear and jealousy,
Taken in by schools of zealotry,
Who train orphans to make orphans evermore.

I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.

You drink the smoke, you ride the noise
You drink the smoke, you ride the noise,
And you say its necessary,
And you forget the ordinary
But I say, on the wheel of time,
Scour the Earth and find the
Orphans of forgetting, all the orphans of forgetting,
Give them stars for math and praise for good play,
Heres a Band-Aid, happy birthday,
Yes of course I did remember,
I remember everything.
Oh come over here, kid weve got all these books to read,
With the turtles and frogs, cats and dogs who civilize the centuries,
And in a world thats angry, cruel and furious,
Theres this monkey whos just curious,
Floating high above a park with bright balloons.

I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
I am the one who will remember everything.
Everything

Songwriters
DAR WILLIAMS

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