Archive | January, 2013

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Fifteen: Fleeting Memories

19 Jan

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Quick Memory Vignettes:  Every so often, a memory will register in my mind–a quick glimpse of somewhere special that I have been, and catch me off guard by its poignancy. Lately, without any real impetus for a specific memory, I am remembering experiences like visiting the museum in Seattle. Suddenly, I am back there.  I am not certain why this particular part of the day sprouts back in my memory because the rest of the day was much more interesting. The Burke-Gilman bike trail through the city was a demanding one, and we stopped all over the city as we wound through the University of Washington and down to the harbour. And yet, this little museum gift shop jumps out in the foreground.

Another example was that while working this past week, I suddenly found myself reliving a walk along the Freedom Trail in Boston and our walk down to the ferry terminal past the Old South Meeting Hall. Another recollection was of a heli-hike up the Purcell range to the Sunrise Lake Chalet.  Instantly, I felt as if I was right there summer-skiing on the glacier snow in my hiking boots.  I also found myself reliving a few minutes in the sleeper car down to Luxor in Egypt.  It is this quaint little train cabin, and the rattling of the train over the uneven tracks that re-invites itself into my present more than all of other grand landmarks of the area.  All of the memories sifting through lately are usually very focussed sound-bites of time, and I am momentarily transformed by the recollection.

Is this normal? Is this something like Alzheimer’s, but in the reverse?  Can someone have a problem with remembering things too vividly, and for no particular reason at all? It is somehow fragrant in its effect, as wafts of experience capture my senses and set me back in time and space. I am not certain of the reason for it, and why so noticeably at this time in my life. However, like dreams, if I try to grab onto them too directly, they disappear, and I am left grasping out for them a bit. I have learned instead, to relish in them a bit without thinking too much about why they are appearing. My mind has remembered them clearly, and the vivid ones are those from my travels and childhood.

Simpler Times: I suppose my mind escapes to times where I had the ability to breathe, play, focus and be creative. I did not know at the time of my initial experiences that I would be able to re-trace them in my future with such clarity. These memories reach out and sustain me at times where perhaps I am feeling overwhelmed, and under-stimulated. My mind has decided to entertain me with better experiences telling me to “stop”. “Remember when…” is the dialogue box going on behind the visuals coming back to me. My inner counsellor beckons me to reconsider my present course.

I am meant to be creative, and “do” something with these memories. Perhaps I am meant to write them down so they are not lost. I likely need to capture and transform them into a descriptive narrative that might reach other people who have not had the opportunities to experience these things, or keep them somewhere just for me to pull out of a drawer someday. These ideas are tapping me on the shoulder and I need to listen and to follow to this inner tour guide or counsellor. Many (not all) of these memories include my son, so I don’t think it takes much psycho-analytic brilliance to interpret this as missing his company and cherishing our time together. However, some are not with him, and indicate that there were times where I was able to uncover something valuable in an experience, and it stuck inside of me. The picture albums stay on the shelf, but the visuals are embedded in my head.

Specific Memories This Week:

-Mont Martre in Paris and walking down the hill past a little ancient restaurant where we eventually ate, indulging in food that can never be re-created anywhere else
-Walking adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial Park Reflection Pool, and making my way along the road to the Whitehouse
-Playing soccer as a child, and running with utter abandonment until dark and into the night time with all of my friends from elementary school
-Going to the symphony with my mother and falling asleep in the second half after intermission
-Staying in a little bed and breakfast in Northern Ireland called the Carriage House within a couple of kilometers of my great-grandfather’s homestead
-Waking up in PEI to a snowstorm that had utterly consumed our car. We laughed so hard knowing that we needed to be plowed out of the parking lot of our motel
-Sitting around the wooden stove in my grandmother’s Finnish kitchen. The smells of her cooking in all of its richness still transend time

The Deal: I think the deal we make with ourselves as we go through life is a simple one: Is what I am doing right now worthy of my memory? Some of what we do remember will surprise us, and in the remembering, will tell us what we might likely remember going forward. I suppose the key is to pay attention, relax into our experiences and breathe.

A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen. ~Edward de Bono

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Fifty-Two Weeks Begin Now: Week Fourteen: The Pregnant Pause of Reflection

13 Jan

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The Last Steps:   The final steps of my move away from Calgary, such as formally selling my house in Calgary; giving up my Alberta Health Care Card; transferring my Alberta pension to British Columbia; transferring my doctors’ files and severing these longstanding relationships; giving much of my furniture to my son, and other endings, remind me of the finality of my “big life change”.  I have truly “done it”, and now the reality of it all settles in.  My kitties sit beside me as I sit in front of my little fireplace, and together we contemplate what this all means.  Why did I do this?  Where do I go from here?  With whom do I share the next part of my BC journey?  My son came to visit me, and I think he is proud of my hard work to get here and establish myself.  I think he is a little bit in awe of what I have done, and holds a new respect for my new found independence.  He speaks of my parenting of him with a new sense of pride.   I have modelled to him that a life change is possible with enough hard work and perseverence.

I will admit now that this has been gutsy.  People were telling me that it was, but I wasn’t really hearing them, and understanding it.  There was no time to look over the edge and speculate what I might be losing by leaving at the time, but now that I peek over, I am a little dizzy from the realization that I am here now, and I did it by myself.  I missed a work day last week out of sheer exhaustion.  I slept all day.  It is finally dawning on me the sheer scope of this move, and that the transfer of my 47 years of identity in one place to another place is truly life altering.  I have been keeping up with the unboxing into my two new homes on Pender and Comox and making them feel like home; a new job, and my new BC status in all regards.  However, the dawning of a new life is hitting me now.

Now What?  I was “called” to come here, and now I have to seek the deeper meaning in all of it and savour the changes so that the magnitude of why I am here is not lost on me.  I have been so busy making the changes that I have to now sit down and look out at the vista around me.  And rest.  For example, today I noticed that the snow looks and feels different here than in Calgary.  It holds a new meaning as everyone here marvels at it as it only comes once in awhile.  What a new perspective on the dreaded snow that Calgarians hate seeing so much of the year.  I look forward to reflecting on life in new ways.  I have been exploring and enjoying it, but all of it has not embedded itself within me yet as I ask, “Why am I here?”

No Regrets:  Don’t get me wrong, as I have very few regrets in the change.  I am not pining nor romanticizing the past, although I miss people from time to time.  It is scary to sit and face the future alone and with a blank slate on which to write my new story.  I have a home, a job, but “now what?”  I am confident that there is a “now what”, but I need to be clear and open to understand “what is NOW” first.  I am slowly getting more time to really sit and look and listen.  It takes courage to be alone and really think about things.  It is much easier to stay busy and keep moving.  I need to pay attention to what messages I can get from new people, places and things.  What can I learn from all of this newness?  Everything has a new implication or life lesson.

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way,  creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything  useful.”  Margaret Wheatley