Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In need of rose colored lenses


The Chartres style labyrinth, a walking meditation, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

Some people romanticize the past. When they think think back on their lives, what they remember are "the good old days."

I think my memory lens must be faulty because what I remember about my past is usually about suffering or discomfort, unhappiness, awkwardness. It's not like I never remember the good times. More often, though, it's my tendency to remember what went wrong. Weird, isn't it?

The recent string of connections with people I haven't seen in ages is showing me, in no uncertain terms, that my sense of who I used to be, and what my life has been about, is seriously distorted. All my old friends in Tahoe and San Francisco reminded me how much fun I had in both of those locations. Why did I forget these wonderful memories? What is up with THAT??

Yesterday my great gift was a sit-down with an old friend from high school, someone I reconnected with through Facebook. We haven't seen each other in thirty-eight years, can you imagine? We meant to meet for an hour but that hour stretched out to three because we could not stop telling stories, asking questions, laughing. It was so much fun!

One of the greatest gifts of our reunion was when he told me stories about my father. I didn't remember - but he did! - sitting in my living room, being grilled by my father about Vietnam. It made him realize, he said, that if he was going to take a position on an issue, he had to do some research and fact checking first. That event had a huge impact on him, one that still resonates today. Wow.

I thought I had heard every story about my father there was to tell. He died in 1978, after all. Listening to my old friend's observations brought my father back into high def in my heart and mind. Who knew an old, long-lost friend held yet another piece of the memory of my father? It was genuinely miraculous.

I need to stir some fun, joyful, creative and positive stories back into the bitter mix of my memories. My memory pool seriously needs sweetening. As it turns out, my life has not been one long tragedy after all. Wow.

What is remembered, lives. Oh yeah!

27 comments:

Rain said...

Hi Reya! I love that set of photos with your shadow, that is gorgeous. I think it's great that you had so much fun with your old friend! I don't think I even think of the past anymore, in a good or bad way...until someone mentions something, then I have a memory. I don't know how I did it, but my thoughts are always in the present or the exciting future these days.

NanU said...

We can never see ourselves they way others see us. No matter how hard we try, or how true our vision. Even your own version changes. I too have difficulty remembering the good times. But also the bad times. Everything is equally faded. I remember writing terribly deep college poetry dealing with all the horrible things that happened to me, and now I have to ask myself: what -was- I on about?
I'm glad you had this reconnect, and the new view of your dad. That's special.

Reya Mellicker said...

What a great question, NanU - What -was- I on about?

Indeed!

glnroz said...

Oh Ms Reya, i enjoyed your post this morning. I have repeatedly written and said that I am the most fortunate person I know and that is because of people in my PAST and present. I could go on forever about the good things and I sometimes do, lol, ONE , for instance, THE GOLD PUPPY site.Thnx

Liza said...

Hello Reya. Wonderful post/pics AGAIN (I love that chair - vintage and I've always wanted one in powder blue or fire engine red)!
Without my past, I wouldn't be where I am, and who I am today, and I've packed away a bunch of crappy stuff, but I'm not letting it define me anymore. It's easy to go there sometimes, oh yeah! I see it now though, and knowing that perspective is about conditioning, I can change that.
Thanks for this post Reya! Enjoy your day.

Nancy said...

I have the opposite problem, for some reason I forget most of the bad things that happened in my life. My memory has never been very good - but for some reason my brain chooses to remember the positive and forget the negative. A blessing, I think.

We have been hooking up with people that for one reason or another had passed from our lives, only to return now. Most people have good memories, but I remember petty squabbles, jelously, etc.

Maybe we grow up. We literally see things differently in our 50's. All of us choose to let the studpid stuff go, and concentrate on what we liked about each other in the first place.

willow said...

I had a similar thing happen with a friend of mine from school that I reconnected with online. She had some interesting memories of my mother, still on her mind after all theses years!

Elizabeth said...

I tend to think the past was wonderful then have to think really hard to remember what a pain much of it was.
Quentin Bell said I had a gift for nostalgia......
well.
Re your father.
So good to hear stories of him
mine died in 1979.
They say you die twice:
when you actually die and then again when all those who can talk about you have died......

Jeninacide said...

I do the exact same THING. It always takes my good old friends laughing about our past to put something back into perspective. I wish my friends lived HERE. Then I could laugh every day... : )

hele said...

the smell of flowers, the sound of rain, golden afternoon sunshine always brings the good memories back for me. but my thoughts never do.

mmmm, thinking about it my thoughts are still too busy trying to get it right to feel good. luckily the other me can slip away into the wild leaving my thoughts chewing on her finger trying to find the one answer.

Soledad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve said...

Isn't it amazing how people live on in the memories of others? Even conversations that may seem insignificant to us can have great meaning for others. It boggles the mind!

Reya Mellicker said...

It boggles my mind, that's for sure!

As I was lying on the table at the Sufi acupuncturist today, I started thinking, "Oh man! I've wasted 56 years thinking I've had a bad life when really it has been a mix of everything just like everyone else." I was really getting into some self punishment when suddenly I started laughing. OMG. I was doing it again!

A "gift for nostalgia." NICE.

Nancy yes it is totally a blessing. I wonder if these tendencies are hormonally based? Seems likely.

Rose said...

I have dreadful memory, the past is a little misty and foggy for me. I think I remember the story I tell of my past better than I remember the events it was based on. I guess bad events make a more exciting and dramatic story. I think I am slowly learning that I would rather have less excitement and drama, a lot less, and a slower pace....

Phil said...

Enjoyed the pic(s) - I was there a couple of years ago. Normally, I'm not one to say "hey, let's see what's in this church", but my wife and I decided to venture inside and of course noticed the cool maze.

I had forgotten all about it, until I saw your pic, but remembered instantly where that was taken.

tut-tut said...

A wonderful meditation and post. What a great photo that is. I wonder how others see me . . .
(interesting; I wrote "meditation" as "mediation" first . . . hmmm)

Tom said...

yea, i remember the good, and rue the bad--especially the episodes made bad through my own faults.

my folks have a chair just like that...they are surprisingly comfortable, for a metal chair.

Bee said...

I find that white chair very poignant.

As someone who has THICK rose colored lenses, it intrigues me that you tend to remember the bad or sad things. Can you pinpoint a time at which this became true? Did something happen that tainted everything?

I'm so glad that there is much old-new joy in your life, Reya.

steven said...

feet standing at the entrance to the labyrinth, head shadow plays out first. is this all there is? we step onto the labyrinth and see our shadow and deal with it and only it? well yes and no. yes, because dark sad hurt are pieces of the labyrinth as much as joy love give are. but the shadow holds intrigue. why deal with what is obvious when the not-so- obvious seems richer, perhaps more fruitful?! "i'm a good person" pales next to the wealth of "what went wrong to allow those wrongs into an otherwise good person's life? how did i fail - to see the crap relationship, the poor choices, the use and abuse, how did i miss all of that when i'm better than all of that?" reya - your goodness and truthful nature shines out from a thousand miles away in pixels. the actual real unimagined reya must flare like a solar flare! so stand behind and inside your shine!!!! steven

Hammer said...

It appears we may remember more than we remember: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17762-brain-can-access-forgotten-memories.html

Do a little more sping cleaning back there and you just might find a few more boxes of good stuff.

Hammer said...

"Spring" cleaning that is.

Man, I gotta lay off the sauce...

Reya Mellicker said...

Hammer of course I LOVE the article. Hippocampus is cool is so many ways, including its name. And the eyes ... oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Phil, you walked the Grace Cathedral labyrinth? That is SO COOL! It's not a maze, you know, just one single path, the meandering path of the spirit or so they say. There is no dead end anywhere on it.

Wow. I love that.

Steven did you see the nose in the pic, where my feet are at the entrance to the labyrinth.

I would love to do a blogger labyrinth walk sometime. Wouldn't that be fun??

Reya Mellicker said...

Bee? I've always been this way, always. When I first read "Little Women" I so loved the chapter where Beth dies, I read it again and again.

My theory? It's my own personal hormonal mix. Mind over hormones? I'm going to give it a go.

Verily I go. said...

You are always so beautiful to read. Nothing is wasted Dear Reya, Aquarians don't even start to begin until 50. Have you tried those 'rose colored' glasses? More riotous fun. Thanks Reya.

The Crap Blog Detective said...

I dont think that rose colored lenses will work for you.

Reya Mellicker said...

I believe it's worth giving them a try.

lettuce said...

your shadow makes the bottom of the labyrinth look like a nose

... just sayin'

:-)