|Tiger lilies in the wilderness|
Yesterday I went to the garden store looking for an organic pesticide for the aphids that have begun to appear on some of my flowers. I bought some neem oil for my ailing columbines. While I was at the store, I stopped to smell the beautiful roses in the entryway, and I just loved their incredible odor, as they had opened and released their perfume in the sunshine. I also learned that many roses, hothouse ones in particular, don't have any smell. I wondered if it was my nose or what the story is. The ones I was smelling are bred for their scent, so it was very strong.
Then I went to REI to look for some new boots. (I'm not quite ready to buy, but I wanted to see what version my current brand of boots looks like today.) I kept turning around looking for the rose scent I kept smelling, and there was nothing to indicate the source. After wandering around in the store for awhile, I realized it was my nose hallucinating the strong rose scent. Or was I remembering what I had recently smelled?
Another place in the book Sacks mentions the process of remembering, and how faulty memory actually can be. Some researchers have shown that people don't remember events in the same way as time goes on. Memories are not stored in the brain like photographs or audio recordings of events; memories are recreated when they are accessed. And when we access old memories, they are modified in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways. I know when my sister Norma Jean and I compare memories of our childhood, our recollections can be wildly divergent. I used to think it is because we are different people experiencing the same events, but now I know that time has altered my memories, as well as hers.
It also makes me realize that eyewitness testimony is particularly useless. It's put innumerable people in jail for crimes they didn't commit, because the eyewitness was convinced their memory was correct, and it simply wasn't. Thank heavens for DNA evidence, which has cleared many innocent people. But I never considered how altered my own memory of events and people must be. I know that memories of my mother have altered through time, because I was never as fond of her in life as I am now. All the old hurts and resentments are gone, and all I have left are the wonderful memories, and even some hurtful memories are now affectionate recollections. The sting is gone, and the love remains.
I cherish the memories I have of my departed family and friends. Now that I realize that my memories of them are fluid, not fixed, it doesn't make them any less valuable, but after having been recreated within the chambers of my own mind, perhaps I can forget all the old hurts and resentments I've carried around by concentrating on the good parts and letting the rest be gently massaged into oblivion. Why should I haul out old grudges? They don't do anything but upset me.
Perhaps I can do the same thing with memories of shame and embarrassment I sometimes recall. In a way, I feel like I've stumbled on a technique that might give me peace and contentment about the past that I never considered. If memories are recreated every time I access them, I must also have some control over their effect upon me.
Today I am going to head down to Snohomish and play in the air with my friend Linny and whoever else shows up. I am intending to have a good time and come home tired and refreshed. I don't know how much longer I will be able to keep up this activity, but for now I am enjoying myself tremendously. And building up memories. On Wednesday my friend Jonelle from the hiking group is going to make a tandem, and I will go with her and jump out of the airplane at the same time. Not many people get to enjoy something like that together, so it's very exciting for both of us. Skydiving has given me many enjoyable memories.
It's time to get out of bed and start my day. I always begin my Sundays with this time together with the laptop and my blog. I think of what is most prominent in my mind and heart and try to capture the moment, as I tap the keyboard and read what comes out of my fingers. My partner is still asleep beside me, the tea is finished, and the birdsong coming through my open window is a harbinger of a wonderful day to come.
Happy Sunday to all, and one more thing: I ran across this lovely video on one of my blogging friends' website yesterday and want to share it with you. It's the shadow play of Raymond Crowe, an Australian entertainer (he calls himself an Unusualist on that link to his website). I found it to be simply enchanting. I hope you do, too. It's two and a half minutes of delight.