A living memory

The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside us while we live. (Norman Cousins)

Do you remember those hazy humid dreams of childhood summers? Have you forgotten the schemes and dreams you plotted along life's timeline when you were 7? Do you remember pinky promises and cross your heart and hope to die, all those pacts we made with other little people to become something, do something, before we got old.


My childhood dreams come alive with the smell of horse hair and the huff of a mare's breath on a hot summer day; the prickle of hay on skin and how it smelled like warm sunshine bottled up. My dreams at night were bareback riding and flying through murky skies and falling out of flaming buildings. My dreams by day were all about love: I was desperate to have it, to keep it, to always remember the important things. My knuckles went white with the gripping of love as hard and as tight to my chest as possible.


Life does not feel permanent when you're a child. Everything flits by and is gone on the wind before you've hardly consumed it, long before you can commit it to memory. Each new experience brushes against your skin like the allure of tall grass wet with dew, hands winding through the wheat tops shaking drops onto the brown tumbled up earth below. We don't know how to make connections yet, as children, and so life flies by free-form. It just is. We aren't hunters of explanations and we aren't gatherers of puzzles yet. We are hunters of daylight - craving it down to it's last black shadow on summer nights on damp cut grass of Olly Olly Oxen Free and Annie Annie I Over. We are gatherers of pretty rocks and feathers, beads and old cans from the woods.


I dreamed of falling in love. It seemed uncomplicated and wonderful in an Anne of Green Gables sort of way, as though I would be so magnetically drawn to that one person and he to me and we would be happy once we discovered the love we cloaked under sarcasm and friendship. I didn't know there would be stops and starts along the way. I didn't know I really would dislike my lover as much as Anne ever disliked Gilbert. And I had no idea how compelling and awesome the magnetism of true love is.


I dreamed of seeing things - amazing things, wild things, beautiful things - as many as I could possibly see before I die. To be born creative is also to be born with this inexplicable and undeniable draw toward the creativity of others, the beauty they create. I devoured an entire art history library looking for beauty, and developed my favorites - the spareness of Wyeth and the raw power of Michelangelo's sketches.  I listened to all kinds of music: to this day, my playlist includes songs from my grandparents and parents' generations, as well as songs from almost every genre of modern music.


Life tumbles on, and with every moment it becomes more complicated. Yet, too, as the earth spins, parts and people fly off into history and you travel on into the future down-sized. And there are places and smells and sounds that will always connect us to our core, where we can remember who we truly are, bask in the naked beauty of the soul.

For me, it is hay, and grass cut in summer, and the smell of sun on barn boards and animal flesh. It is the harumphs of happy horses and the whinny on the wind. It is the countryside on a sunny day, lying on your back picking out shapes from the clouds in the azure sky. It is friend's voices and each of their own special laughs.


Where do you go to remember who you are? Are you familiar with that core place within you that holds your essence and your dreams? How do you access it?