Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday Mantra: Memory Management

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Everything takes time

Recently, I was browsing Pinterest when I came across a picture of an antique coin dish, the exact coin dish that used to be my grandfathers. My memory instantly went to their house, their bedroom with their dresser, where the coin dish would sit, filled at the end of each day with the change out of my grandfathers pocket along with a pocketknife he always carried. The dish, emptied every morning when he got dressed, used to seem inconsequential. In fact, until that very moment when I saw it on Pinterest, I hadn't thought of it at all. But something stirred inside of me at its image. Some great sadness mixed with a fear. To properly explain this I have to work backwards.

-3. The second thought I had was this: Where is that dish? Did I discard it in my rushed sorrow, when the only way I was able to survive life after my gramma died was to spend countless hours cleaning her house and sorting through boxes and organizing organizing organizing? That didn't sound like something I would do, but much of my memory of that time is a blur. Where was the dish?!

-2. The first thought, however, was actually a memory. The wrong memory. My brain took me back to my grandparents house as it used to be, years and years ago. It took me to the house as it always had looked, with the same furniture and same carpet and same walls. And my mind, in those brief seconds, searched through that house, through my grandmothers dresser drawers and the bookshelf that held knick-knacks and my grandfathers nightstand. My mind went searching through a house that no longer exists in that form.

-1. My mom and I now own that house. Owning it was something that had always been of great importance to me. My grandparents knew this, but not everyone in the family understood. A cousin of mine once questioned why. "It's just a house." Not to me, it wasn't. Nothing that involved my grandparents was "just something" to me. The house was old, older than me, and it needed new everything. So new everything we've given it. New floors, new walls, new furniture, new fixtures, new new new. Aside from the structure of the house, it doesn't look the same at all. While I've come to accept this - the much needed changes - what disturbed me was that my memory still hasn't caught on to that yet. So much time was spent there, so much of my youth, that anytime I look back on the house, even if I'm trying to remember where I left something from my most recent visit, the first way I think of it is the way it used to be, years and years ago. I mentally search through drawers that no longer exist, through cupboards that have changed contents, through images of the past. Then my brain catches up and I remember it as it now is.

0. I can't explain this- the time lag, the delay in my mind. My only assumption is that when you've lived life a certain way in a certain place with certain surroundings for so very long, your brain has to catch up. It has to see the new life, the new place over and over and over again until it stops remembering the past. Memory Management, is what I'm calling it. The work your brain has to do to catch up to the present. I wonder how much of life is spent like this. How many habits, actions, and thoughts we have that are stuck in the past because the new habits and actions and thoughts have yet to break through and take hold. To take charge of "what was" for "what now is." I think this might explain a lot about life, actually.

1. I used to recite this poem over and over in my head after my gramma died. It would simultaneously reduce me to tears and comfort me. It still does.

I am not there. I did not die.

2. One day my memories will no longer be there, not as many and not as crisp and clear as they are today. I will forget her antique furniture. The sound of her voice. The sizzle of her skillet on the stovetop. The old settee, the brown walls, and the sticky cupboard handles will all vanish. One day my memory will catch up and I will remember first the way the house looks now, in its shades of blue and white and gray. The quiet of it. The silence when I first walk in. I will remember second the way it used to look.

3. I went to my grandparents house and I searched all over for the coin dish. I searched the new dresser, the new drawers, the repainted bookshelf- nothing.  My mom came over and I asked her if I'd given it away, if my uncle had it, if I'd boxed it up. She walked into the living room, opened the china hutch, and there it was- beneath a notecard holding its new contents in its new place.

I took it back home with me.

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