Remembering

calm days
the swift years
forgotten 

~ Taigi

If I don’t think about the state of the world, if I don’t read the news, if I don’t talk to anyone, if I stay curled up in the small shell of my life, then my days are calm, a slow river without eddy or ripple. I move from chair to desk, from hot tub to yoga mat, front yard garden to backyard garden.

This morning I gazed at the horizon immediately in front of me, perhaps a few hundred yards away, at the tall green conifers – erect, yet languid, upright yet relaxed, limbs stretching out but at ease, and I thought how is it possible that I live in such a beautiful place, where there is so much green, where the trees are my skyscrapers, where the quiet is interrupted only by bird song, an occasional dog or chicken, sometimes a car. How did I manage to make it through 66 swift years, fast as a rushing stream, and make it to here and now?

My daily horizon

Trying to excavate those years in writing is just letting sand sift through my fingers, as though none of it matters, none of it means anything, though back then I was certainly thrown off course, a leaf in a current sometimes, a stone sinking to the bottom. But here I am, bobbed to the surface and irrepressibly ready for more, for the next thing.

This is all a clear reflection of how I sleep. Yesterday, or maybe it was the day before, I’ve already forgotten, I had a bad night’s sleep and I spent the next day thinking everything was terrible, people, the world, the situation we’re in, everything. I noticed all the dust, and the cracks in the wall plaster. I stared at my wrinkles, and despaired at the pain in my hips. I looked at my husband and couldn’t hear what he was saying. I couldn’t wait for the day to end though I had no thought that it would get better. The world was a shambles. Period.

Of course it’s only in retrospect that I see it was exhaustion, the cellular disarray of my body impinging on my mood. It strikes me only now that this morning’s pinch-me moment of how did I land in this beautiful place – that bad sleep can completely upend me and turn me into a blithering idiot, or worse, the kind of pessimistic doom and gloom person that so irritates me, turning every bit of good news into something that impacts them in some dark way. I try hard not to be like that, but there’s some inner DNA or some long ago forgotten or not so forgotten family habit, a father who was critical and judgmental, an emotionally detached mother, who knows, maybe it goes way back to running from Cossacks during the pogroms. 

But I’m letting it all go. I’ve stopped! I’ve stopped excavation, I’ve stopped blaming, I’ve stopped the “what ifs” and the “if onlys.” But what it leaves is a blankness. If you erase the past in a blanket of forgetting, then what is left? The Now of course, but I am not a Buddhist, I am not Zen enough to be completely appreciative of the now. Or maybe I’m just learning it all – this writing, this “letting the water run clear” as Natalie Goldberg (a writing mentor) says. But what does Natalie say about what happens after the water runs clear, or has she never actually gotten to that place, the baggage still piling up like so much dirty laundry, impossible to clean.

I forget more than I remember, that’s for sure. I forget names and dates, I forget why I walked into a room, and now I’m forgetting words and have taken up that demented habit of using other descriptors to get my meaning across.

We used to laugh at our parents when they said things like, what was that person’s name? You know that man? In the hat? And then burst out laughing, oh yes the Pope! Hilarious then, though maybe not so much now, because I can’t even tell you the current Pope’s name. There have been too many in my lifetime. I only remember when I was little, the early sixties it must have been, and the Pope at the time declared that no, the Jews did not kill Christ, and my Catholic neighbors seem to forgive me for something that left me confused and separate, with a clear understanding that I understand nothing.

11 thoughts on “Remembering

  1. This feels surprisingly familiar in so many ways. Every decade seems to bring new ways of being in the world and while it should get easier to navigate, the map print is harder to read and none of the roads head where we think they should. Thanks for being so open and genuine here. It’s nice getting to know you. 

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  2. Yes, I feel like we are getting to know each other through written words… my favorite way, to tell you the truth. Navigating life is quite the journey whether I go anywhere or not. Thanks for being here.

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  3. Nancy…
    I am reading your post in Poland…a land of historic Jewish suffering in recent WW2 time et space. This is the country from which the pope to which you refer originated . So perhaps this influenced his view et gave him courage to address the craziness promulgated about Jews killing Jesus…in any case the ending in your piece surprised me…as always I so enjoy your blog surprises!

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    • The ending surprised me as well! I started with the Haiku and 25 minutes later ended with the pope. Funny how the mind works, eh? Thanks for being here! I’m happy to be following your trips in pics.

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  4. I guess the comfort is knowing you are not alone in all of this. Knowing I am not alone. Living those last years of my mother’s life with her (Including her bad mood days), I saw even as we lived them that I was not adequately appreciating the fact of her aging and was trying desperately to magically believe it wouldn’t happen to me. Knowing that it would. Knowing that it was even then. Knowing that my own daughter would not/does not accept my aging either, knowing that it would one day be her. Maybe it’s a necessary defense mechanism. There’s a lot of “knowing” in this comment. Maybe that is the key somehow. Knowing, ignoring, but still knowing . . . and still ignoring. (Sorry for the rambling comment, it’s one of those days. Haha.)

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  5. Just lovely. I’m in the phase of widowhood that is letting the past go. And I love how you say it here… letting the past go, into the blankness of now. I’m creating a future as much as that is possible, but the now… that’s where my healing is. Thank you…

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    • Thank you for reading and commenting! We keep coming back to the inescapable now even as our lives weave in past and future. Having watched others navigate losing a spouse I’ve observed how full of grief it is, but also one of discovery of strength. Wishing you all the best on your healing journey, here and now.

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