Monday, November 28, 2011

Memories

I started a writing project a month ago. I am recording vignettes of my early life. The project provides an opportunity to be disciplined in a craft and nostalgic about my childhood.  About my mom swearing. About my arm breaking. About my suspicious neighbor giving candy to kids. About old friends and rivals and anything that bubbles to the surface.

Some day I hope to read these stories to my children, even if they're partial and somewhat flawed. I likely exaggerate my accomplishments; I probably dramatize my trials; I certainly miss a quote or scenic detail. The essence of the event is captured, but the specifics are skewed. Time is like a carnival mirror, it has a way of distorting what is true.


On the other hand, as I've practiced the virtue of remembering, another fruit has resulted: accuracy. A few stories into my childhood, and I began to recall the pattern of our living room carpet, the layout of my neighbors backyard, the street name of my best friend's drive, and the pitch of our dog's bark. The more work I put into memory, the more I remembered.

I want to continue to develop this, for we live in a culture-of-the-moment. Here: the art of recall is fading. Now: the science of history is outdated. This would be bad news if news weren't ever-breaking. But it is. So is our culture. Ever-breaking. Always-broken.


But there is a solution to the hectic, amnesic, and broken culture-of-the-moment. Memory. Walter Brueggemann wrote, "Amnesia renders the human community lean without resources, unprotected from the past, and left with the need to invent and reinvent endlessly" (Word the Redescribes the World, 10). So I reminisce.

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