|Ebb and Flow Photographer: Matt Tilghman|
It is fascinating, for example, how a perfectly lovely day can be negatively impacted by the sight of a woman wearing a dress like one my 2nd grade teacher wore on the day of some classroom crisis, an event that slept unobserved in my mind for decades. Where is such a memory stored in the mind and why is it stored? Why don't we remember everything? Or do we, in fact, remember everything but only have access to particular memories?
|"Ebb and Flow #8 (from the Ebb and Flow series). Drawing. Artist: Doug Russell|
I stood alone before these images and felt the loneliness and yearning of a lifetime, while echoes of voices and music clamored and collided in my mind's ear.
A motivation for my Thanksgiving visit this year -- my first visit in almost 8 years -- was to assist in the sort-and-distribute project. With quickened pulse and trembling hands, I jumped in on Day Two. As I worked, it occurred to me: perhaps in my position/role as "outsider" I have an fortitude that makes the task less painful than it is for the "insiders." Or, my pain is of a different kind.
There are few things I enjoy more than standing smack dab in the middle of a jumbled mess and being charged with creating order. As I worked, my fondness for organization would rule...and then be obliterated by a flood of heartache and memory....then rise again and fill me with pleasure and inspiration as the design of workable system emerged. What drives that fluctuating flow? Instantaneously, gripped by a wave of heartache, I lost the sharp focus and bright-burning creative energy that moments before had my fingers flying on the keyboard as I entered data into my spreadsheet. I felt heavy, my hands lay thick and lifeless in my lap. I stared at the photographs...into the eyes of people who love me but would rather not be around me.
In the present moment -- the here and now where I am real, where I have body and mind -- contemplating "back then" -- photographed worlds where I do not appear, existing only as a memory in the minds of the people who do appear, my vitality is sacrificed when painful remembering surges.
I want my vitality. How to not remember.... Or how to become stronger than Memory.