Recently I attended a friend’s 60th birthday in the bush. Many of the guests I hadn’t seen for forty years - the wild, irresponsible university days when more time was dedicated to partying than to books. It’s not an exaggeration to say that no one had changed, and I stepped back in time. OK the blokes had less hair and what they had was white, but the cheeky grins, the irreverent senses of humour were exactly as I remembered them.
They referred to me by my maiden name and had I not been having such a great time I would have dissolved into tears of nostalgia.
A few weeks later an ex-work colleague and I were having dinner. She reminded me of the many times she picked me up to drive to work on the weekends. I HAD FORGOTTEN, but how was that possible? Her car was a tribute to her island origins. The dashboard was festooned with faux bougainvillea and all manner of Tropicana were hanging from her rear vision mirror. I felt I was being transported to an island retreat, and if I closed my eyes I would hear the sound of the surf……until we stopped abruptly and a working day loomed.
We need friends and family to keep our memories alive, and particularly challenging in a transitory world when where we are born can be a million light years from where we “end up”. I was passing a shop in a country town on the weekend that has no doubt changed its commercial enterprise many times, but I remembered that I had left a spinning wheel there to be repaired thirty years ago. Not just the loss of the spinning wheel, but the extraordinary fact that I SPUN WOOL leaves me reeling.
As I marvel at the birth of my second granddaughter I also reflect on the times we will spend together and how much she will remember. I just have to hang around I guess as the thought of the alternative fills me with dread. Defying all rules of life expectancy I will be lowered into the coffin at 300 years of age and even then I will be still trying to prise the lid off!
There are A LOT of chapters to keep alive in our memory as they are the sum of our lives, and as I look back I struggle to believe I have lived so many.
To quote Nick Cave, “Memory is what we are. Your very soul and your very reason to be alive is tied up in memory.”
Nice one Nick, and pertinent to many of us as we age. How do we compress all the years into that tiny cavity between our ears? Remarkably it’s all there and just needs a little prompting.