Still engaged in writing the story. It’s a long one. But, am realizing that what I am actually doing is backtracking. (See category A Synchronicity of Foxes, in the list of categories on the sidebar of this site). I am backtracking my own footprints from twenty plus years ago.
Memories are wonderful things. They are incredibly slippery things as well. Last evening, we (my three siblings and myself) met for pizza with my Aunt and Uncle. I am, in fact, her name sake, and she lived with us before she got married. As very young children, we were present when he was courting her, and I was the flower girl at their wedding.
Needless to say, the moment we all sat down to the table, the memories came forward. But, each of us had different ones. I remembered how very handsome this man was when he picked her up for their first date. My older sister, sharing her room back then with my Aunt, remembered how special she felt when my Aunt came home one evening to show her a brand new engagement ring. My younger sister remembered babysitting with their very young children, who have since given them nineteen great-grandchildren with two more on the way. My brother remembered going rabbit hunting with my Uncle’s father.
There was a great deal of laughter and teasing as we backtracked and each told our separate and unique stories. It was a warm and welcomed encounter. As I helped my Aunt and Uncle into their vehicle, I realized that our memories had comprised a great deal of the evening. How each of us remembered specific things, and each was distinctly different from the others, although the four of us had been raised in the same household.
Memories are important because they anchor us, tell us where we have been, and even how we came to be where we are in the present moment. But, again, they can be slippery things: momentarily capturing us, entertaining us, as ours did last evening, and are then gone as we move on to our separate spaces and the places we need to be in the next moment.
Some memories come under the heading: best not to remember at all. And we consciouly or otherwise move to forget. Others seem like bothersome tangents that get in the way of what is going on now, in this moment, and we swat them away like pesky mosquitoes. But, memories have another, far more important function. They carry the DNA of our story. And because we are each individual, our stories are distinct. Just as my siblings memories are different from my own, mine are very different from theirs.
There was a time, long ago, when if one of my siblings would say, “That’s not the way it happened,” I would stop and think that maybe I was wrong, was remembering incorrectly. I have since come to know that we remember what was important to us as individuals. Thus, we remember what impacted us in that particular moment, touched our feelings and the sense we owned of how the world operated, and how we fit into that world. Which only means that my younger sister might remember the yellow rose, and I would be far more apt to remember the bright red tulip.
And again, memories can be slippery, sliding not only into the past, but being affected by all that we have encountered since that past actually occurred. We recently attended an Easter dinner at my nephew’s house. As we were leaving, my nephew was carrying two potted arrangements of different colored tulips. As he was saying his goodbyes, he gave me the bright red arrangement and handed the yellow one to his mother, my younger sister. I remember thinking, “How did he know that was absolutely correct?” Because he has his own memories.
But, as I have already said, memories have a much more important function. They are our reservoir of connections and associations. Many times, they appear, seemingly almost without meaning, yet they are a function of our intuition and can lead us toward fuller understanding. They are our means of backtracking and perhaps gaining a deeper and wider sense of who we are.
As I have been writing, backtracking in my own footprints, I sometimes find myself wondering how I could have missed so much. Writing out the words of those memories, slows down that process of memory, allows it far more time to associate with other things, both past and since then. It is both a difficult and delightful experience.
In my Personal Mythology (see again that list of categories), my intuition is symbolized by two very different creatures. One is a tiny yellow and green dragon, who giggles a lot, and whose name is Tui, short for Intuition, of course. The other is Lilka (meaning “She Who Fights With Honor), a slow-moving, but very precise and dignified snow leopard. The snow leopard is believed, by some, to be the missing link between the big and small cats.
Anyway, because writing slows down the thought process, intuition has an open door to suggest other associations and paths to explore. Things that have happened since then, other knowledge that has been learned and experienced, that can, and often does, inform those original past experiences. When integrated together, the story is fuller and deeper than I at first intended. And I am learning a great deal from all of it. Even learning who might have crossed that backpath as I sniff along its trail.
Backtracking on paper is important and fun. As I do it, I can almost see Tui or Lilka, coming to give me a piece I might otherwise have missed. Tui giggles, and Lilka just gives me that look that says, “This is important, pay attention.” And I do. Because my story is as individual as anyone else’s. But, it also has a depth that might have slipped past me before now.
Do you make note of your memories? Let them blend and integrate to give you a wider experience? Painting them, or even coloring them can provide the same experience.