Friday, 19 September 2008

Memory as a Weapon against Despair

This morning presents the kind of fall weather that makes the heat and sog of summer worth living through. Clear sky, green grass, an abundance of late season flowers, brisk temperatures and the first leaves turning red and yellow. It looks like a day to take one’s eyes off of the woes of the world.

And they are many. I see, looking over my last posts, that I’ve been concentrating on them but I think it’s time to look at something else. That is: the way that moments from the past can carry us through difficult hours.

How many happy times will any one person with average luck have in a life time? I have no idea, but I do know that if you can store them up and bring them out when times are rough, you will often find the courage to face life. Not to do so is to lay the ground work for despair, and when despair settles in it can paralyze.

And memories--frequently of fleeting events, periods of time that would be measured in seconds on the clock--last longer than one would ever imagine. As Everett Sloane said in Citizen Kane: "A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since, that I haven't thought of that girl."

So today I am going to try to store up the feeling of this lovely morning. I’ll add it to other moments worth remembering, among them an afternoon in Golden Gate Park when Lee and I were newly in love, the star-filled night sky in Tanzania, many dinners with our children and their conjoints, and a call from my niece saying she thought something I wrote would have pleased her mother/my sister.

There are many others: as I sit here trying to decide which ones to mention—what about the night that Thomas Mulcair won for the NPD in Outremont, proving what I’d been saying about the win-ability of the riding for 20 years had been right?--I realize that they add up to fuel to keep me going for the long run--and in the long run.

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