Retracing a path of memory that I want to forever hold onto

There is a pleasure in the thought that the particular tone of my mind at this moment may be new in the universe; that the emotion of this hour may be peculiar and unexampled in the whole eternity of moral being.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I am keeping my journal, I am putting words with memory, memory with scene, scene with impression…[This] creates a fruitful complexity. Speculation, reminiscence, and experience, mixed and digested together in the journal, feed new life, new writing…

Robert Hague

Observation, memory and imagination: all writers must employ these in their writing, Faulkner said. And, if you look at journal writing, you will see how the first two, in particular, are involved. The diary or journal is the perfect embodiment of firsthand observation and experience of life joined together and preserved in one single medium with memories and recollections of the past. This is what I try to do in my journals — I attempt to let the past become intertwined and live in the present, real and vital, rather than just pine away for the lost illusions of youth, which is what a lot of reminiscing can turn into.

The main problem is remembering the details of those past events and feelings that I want to recall. I have no trouble writing about the present. As I sit here in the garden, I’m looking all around and observing the setting for these moments in time. I’m taking in, with all my senses, the smells, sounds, and sights of this very pleasant afternoon in early May. There are certain varieties of swifts and swallows which always seem to be darting about in the sky here when I look up. I don’t seem to notice them as much elsewhere. I am looking at a partly overcast sky with breaks that reveal patches of blue. I feel the slight breeze on my skin. There is a fresh smell of shrubs and flowers, even here inthe middle of downtown Charleston. All this I can do. I can sense and experience “the now.” We all can if we try to be attentive to the nuances of life. And, I can capture these moments for all of the time that matters to me by writing about it in my journal or taking photographs, which I do much more than write nowadays.

But let me also go back in time 50 years ago, almost to the day, as I often try to do about this time of year. I travel back to the last few weeks of college those many years ago when I had just turned 22. It was just before graduation. I specifically recall the Paul McCartney song, “My Love,” which was endlessly playing on the radio that month. I remember lying in the grass on the levee of a small bayou near campus, 10-speed bike beside me flat on the ground, eyes closed and face absorbing the wonderful, warm rays of sunshine that are such a soothing balm in spring. The energy of the universe seemed to be radiating deep into me.

I recall that period in my life because I was on the cusp of the freedom that can only come when you are young and have crossed the last hurdle before the doors to the future and adulthood swing wide open. At last, the world beyond high school and college. The road begins its winding course, and you sense that the mysteries of life are waiting to be discovered around each bend and curve in the road.

In May of 1973, I was feeling such intense feelings of expectation and change that I never want to forget them. So I write about that time in my journal, and I remember as I write. I am not saying I want to be that age again because I know I can’t be. I just like to remember what it was like to be that young, and that free, as only one can be in the springtime of life.

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3 weeks ago

I never had that “world wide open” sense of anticipation. It was just a series of events, doing what I was expected to do, one foot in front of the other. I often wonder what would have become of me if I’d any kind of support system or mentor or something. I went to college to become a CPA, but living on my own, having to pay rent and work full time and go to college just seemed so HARD, so I dropped out and took another path, one in which there was no career, just a series of jobs that paid decent. If I’d just had SOMEONE to encourage and support, it could have  been different. I look back and see that it wasn’t as hard as I thought, the REALLY hard stuff came much later. Life is just a funny old thing. I remember  reading about a book that someone wrote called ODTAA. Critics read it and praised or panned it, but no one could understand the meaning of the title and what it had to do with the book. Finally, years later, the author said that it was an anachronym for “One Damned Thing After Another,” which is basically just life, isn’t it?

3 weeks ago

@startingover_1 Love the title of that book, and so true!  My theory on work and careers is this:  you follow your instincts and impulses, even if they turn out to be wrong because the alternative could have been much worse! 🥹

3 weeks ago

P.S. I don’t know if the story of that book is true or even if I told it correctly, it’s just something I remembered. LOL

3 weeks ago

@startingover_1 I’m glad you remembered it!  Lol

3 weeks ago

I have filled out several books that ask me questions about my past…childhood, teenager, young adult, etc.  I loved filling out those books and how they took me back to those times in my life.  Back to the long days of being a kid and using our imaginations in play all day.  Coming in at the end of the day sunburned and smelling like outside.  Getting a bath, supper and then bedtime and the sounds the house made at night.  The teenage years of discovering all about boys and driving and those first steps of freedom.  Oh, to be that young again.  The early days of marriage and motherhood.  So much life to look back on and remember and try to recall the feelings.

3 weeks ago

@happyathome Absolutely.  Enjoyed your comment here very much.  Life when we were young was indisputably simpler.  All of the passages of life that we go through contain the building g blocks of our lives.  Our memories are us!!  I just wish I could recall a lot more from all the stages of life I’ve lived through.🥹

3 weeks ago

@oswego Our memories are us…I love that!!  I have a pretty good memory but as I get older I feel like I am forgetting a lot and that really bothers me.  I’m just glad I have so much written down to jog my memory.

3 weeks ago

@happyathome It bothers me, too.  But I am surrounded by so much, including my writing, that jogs my memory anytime I want to step back into the past for a little while, that there’s no end to it.  I love all the remembered events and experiences, but also the anticipation of a surprise memory or two popping out at me!  🥹😅