30 March 2018

Revisitation

If the truth be known, we live in flux - our minds moving seamlessly between past memories, the "here and now" and future prospects. We just can't stop ourselves and why would we want to?

As I have grown older, I have become increasingly fascinated by memory. I don't think we have any control over it. What comes to the surface is dictated by inner psychology. Fundamental symbolic or psychiatric influence probably underpins these "displayed" memories while beneath them is a vast dark sea of seemingly unremembered events.

You might say that memories that pop their heads out of the water are strong indicators of who we really are.

In this blog, I have visited memory before. I just looked back at a post I made in 2012. Twelve years later the words seem like someone else's but the notions are the same. See Memories .And I also notice that in December 2012 I posted a poem I had written called "Of Memory". Again the words seem like somebody else's. Did I really write it? Back then - in December 2012, the poem only attracted one comment, from long time blogging friend Kate in Tauranga, New Zealand.

She wrote, "I liked this very much. I was glad I knew what groynes were, though, since that was a fairly central image. We don't have them in eNZed. You have a frequent (icon in the visual arts) motif? of regret and might-have-been-ness. It's interesting."

Regret and might-have-been-ness? Kate is probably right but I cannot help myself. That is part of who I really am though I am sure there are millions of  other human beings who share this characteristic and it certainly is "interesting".

Anyway, having rediscovered my poem, I must say that I am rather pleased with it, pleased enough to share it once more....
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Of Memory

Swirling mist 
Coiling 
Or steam rising. 
Images blinking incoherently. 
Snatches of lines once said - 
Chronological tombola - 
The fruits of growing older. 
I saw a face, 
I heard a voice... 
Once. 

Unchosen 
They well up 
From benighted depths 
Far below -
Swirling, spinning - 
People you used to know, 
Sights once seen, 
Places once been – 
Recollection, 
Reminiscence... 
Once. 

Editing 
Is all. 
What’s saved 
And what is lost - 
You never get to choose 
Or count the cost 
Of the life you’ve lived 
Defined by 
Memory’s markers - 
Like ancient groynes 
In the tide-washed sands 
Of time.

25 comments:

  1. Wow. I believe that could be an awesome song sung by Robert Plant. Powerful words that resonate deeply with me.

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    1. To have touched just one reader in that way makes the effort worthwhile. Thank you Kathy.

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  2. That is a very, very interesting post indeed YP. I could pick up on so many parts of it but then my comment would become a blog post in itself. I shall admire your poem (and keep it in my notebook as well) and concentrate on one point: "Regret and might-have-been-ness? Kate is probably right but I cannot help myself."

    When I was a teenager my Godfather told me never to regret because it was a negative emotion. He maintained that regret could lead to bitterness if one let it and that bitterness was the road to self-destruction. He spoke from experience but by the time he realised the damage was done. Since then I have always said "If what's done cannot be undone then let it lie and die." It has worked for me.

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    1. Your motto is a good one but mottoes in themselves cannot defeat ingrained personality traits.

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    2. Of course you are correct YP. However I do believe that if one can recognise and catch a potential trait early enough then, like an illness or a habit for example, it can often be ameliorated. I'm pretty sure the regret trait was never ingrained in me though so I could well be wrong.

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    3. You have always struck me as an optimistic "glass half full" kind of bloke Graham. The way you have tackled your ailments so manfully is testament to that.

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  3. My first memory is of me, still a baby, laying in my cot in the closed-in front verandah of my Nana's home in Rockhampton circa 1945. This might sound unbelievable to some, but it is true. I have no reason to lie.

    A little after that time we all moved to Slade Point, a beach suburb of Mackay. I have memories of the time spent there, too...and, in April 1948 we left Slade Point, and moved back to Gympie seven months before I turned 4 years of age.

    Gympie was the hometown of my grandmother (and late grandfather) and was the town in which my mother was born. I have many clear memories of those early years.

    One's mind is complex, fascinating, interesting....and much, much more. Memories...wondrous mysteries and miracles of life. A whirlpool of images...of happenings...of people...of emotions...good, bad, happy, sad.

    Your poem is a clear expression of insoluble conundrums, one's ability to recall...the workings of one's mind.

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    1. "A whirlpool of images...of happenings...of people...of emotions...good, bad, happy, sad." Yes. That is another good way of describing memory.

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  4. That is one one of the most stirring, uplifting, futile and enigmatic things I have ever read. Breath taking.

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    1. I am so glad that it touched you Christina. That means a lot to me.

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  5. It is interesting to look back at things we've written years ago. I like your poem and the image of the groynes (in the USA we spell it "groins") giving structure to the great wash of memory. In retyping my journals I've been surprised to read memories from childhood that I'd recounted later in those pages, as a thirtysomething man, and that I've since entirely forgotten! Funny how some memories persist for decades and then disappear. Maybe I'm getting dementia.

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    1. Yes Steve - it is strange to read words we wrote long ago isn't it? They can seem like words that somebody else wrote. I do not think you are getting dementia because that is just how the memory works.

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  6. It is a lovely poem, Mr. Pudding. In the re-reading of it, I find new meaning every time.

    I just read an article last week about memory....and how when we tell it or think on it....each time it changes just a little bit to what we wish.....a color might be reinvented....the weather of our memory might be a bit better than it actually was....the hill might , this time, be a small mountain....we might have been loved (or hated!) a little more intensely.....the characters in the memory might have changed from a great number to a small number or visa-versa. So that the telling or the thinking of the memory over years and decades ends up being not the real event but the memory of the event that we wanted and that we want to remember. So that, the last telling of it or remembering of it is not a real memory but what we want as memory.

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    1. I find it very easy to concur with that view of memory. We can reach a point where the authenticity of a particular memory becomes very doubtful. Did it really happen? Was I really there? Poetically, it is an inspiring notion.

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  7. Interesting post, YP. I've read that some scientists think our memories are constantly changing as we re-remember them over and over. I don't believe that is so, at least not for me, because I have a few constant memories from my childhood and they never vary. I have written them down and when I re-read them, they are exactly as my current memory of them is.

    On the other hand, I have read things I wrote years ago and have no current memory of them. Some of them I then recall as a result of reading my notes and some seem like fiction.

    The brain is such uncharted territory . . . I wonder what scientists will discover about it in the years to come, in all aspects - physiological, emotional, mental, and more.

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    1. It's like we have been on the moon and sent probes to Mars and beyond but we haven't yet plumbed the depths of the human mind. It remains mysterious and I for one am glad about that.

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  8. Aha! I see while I was commenting (which took awhile because I kept being interrupted), Peace Thyme made the same observation about memory continually changing!

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  9. A very thought provoking post and a beautiful poem. I enjoyed it and can't help but wonder if you have other poems to share. Memory is such a unique thing that certainly does swirl and spin in our minds. Good or bad our memories affect us in different ways at different times. Some I cherish and others I hate. I suppose that is life.

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    1. The thoughts you reveal here are very much in tune with my poem. Thanks for both reading it and reflecting on it Bonnie.

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  10. This is a post that will make people think. I'm sure most people think they remember everything! On the other hand, as you say, the memories are there . Once in while they bubble up. Also we remember things differently. My brother and I are less than a year apart. It's fun tho talk about things when we were kids and see the different perspectives we have.

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    1. I e-mailed an old family friend a few days ago. He's ninety now. We were on holiday in Italy around 1960/61. He taught me to swim and I remember this vividly but he has no memory of it whatsoever.

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  11. I like your poem. "I saw a face,
    I heard a voice";sometimes it happens though, that I see a face or a hear a voice I recognise but dont remember where.
    Smells also trigger memories for me.
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. I know what you mean about images, including faces surfacing in our memories but we cannot recall the context.

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  12. "Places once been..."

    There's so much aching imagery here. Regret is really the worst thing, the worst, worst thing. I'll be 30 next month and have been preoccupied of late with the kinds of memories I'll have to look back on once I reach my older years. I'm so scared of living a life I can't be proud of.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.