Memories – how do they serve us?

17 Mar

My weekend is filling up pretty fast so I thought I would share a memory with you. It is a piece I’ve worked on for a book in progress, about my journey – the experience rather than the learning – although we can’t help ourselves but colour the experience with who we have become in the present.

This particular experience is one which I can say is a fond memory, and one which will not be a part of my grandchildren’s experience. They will only ever know it from what I tell them.

Here is the piece. Many of you will find connection with this story in the timeline of your own existence:-

Community affairs were great fun.

 The local families would get together for Guy Fawkes nights, for example.

 We would make our poor Guy effigy out of sacrificed work clothes, socks and stockings close to the end of their patched on patches and darned on darnings’ lives, stuffed with old newspaper and tied with bale string.

Despite knowing the history, it never occurred to any of us to associate the Guy (and our delight at watching it disintegrate in screaming, twisting agony amidst the flames), with the barbarities and moral dilemmas of real events from a long ago time in a faraway place.

We would revel in being chased by jumping jacks, deafened by double happys, terrorized by rockets and delighted by sparklers as the great bonfire roared happily, tossing its wild flaming head, spraying great showers of sparks and belching gusts of smoke in unpredictable directions. (Such wild pleasures are unavailable today – at least to the law-abiding and socially responsible!)

There was always a feed which seemed to us to manifest out of nowhere and it was followed, at our place anyway, by snowball fights around the house and through the wild garden![1]

[1] The snowball tree was an unfortunate victim of the season each year, bonfire or not and it is testimony to its weed-like tenacity that it survived for so long, even after being fenced out of the house yard for the stock to eat – a cunning ploy designed by my parents in later years to cut down on the amount of lawn to mow – and also in deference to the general decline of the Garden.

Nostalgia! How tempted we are to desire a return to the past.

How does nostalgia serve us today when such delights are frowned upon by the ‘Establishment’?

What we can do is bring the feelings of joy from the past into the present, being aware of, and grateful for, the gift that they are. We can bring fun, laughter and community togetherness into any affair which brings people together. It is our memory of the camaraderie and the joy of fellowship from the old memories which can serve us today.

If we continue to hanker for the old scaffolds, we lose sight of the real gift of the memory – the feelings which can serve the moment. By reliving an event which brought joy in the past, we can bring the joy of it to the present; but to focus instead on the physical circumstances of time and place is to deny the joy in the present – it only brings the feeling of lack!

It is from our feelings that we create our world.

That nostalgia serves us is a conscious choice we can make.


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