Here I am, in 2019, looking back on 2018. The future is already here with days tripping over days at a rapid pace. How can I keep track of the past if I can’t even keep up with the future, which becomes the past, before I blink an eye?
The story of my life is trying to model others. I suppose this came about from being the sixth child of seven. Those in existence before me, already knew who they were, when I arrived. As for me, I wasn’t quite sure of myself and spent most of my time emulating, imitating and trying to figure out this enigma of self. Four of my siblings being boys, inevitably meant I became the quintessential tomboy. Never completely sold on the male identity, I was extremely feminine, as well. Everyone kept trying to tell me who I was, but somehow they were wrong.
We were lucky to have loving parents to help us feel secure, and turn into decent people. We came from the ideal family, even. Living in a small town, many of our friends envied our altruism, and wanted to be a part of us. So my parents pretty much opened their doors, and let everyone in. We used to call the place, Grand Central Station. Such was life.
Now I am preceding 2018 by decades. The memory won’t stop. How do I remember? Simple, I write things down, and look back. It’s a good way to know yourself. I think of my dad while he was in the Army from 1941 to 1945, and how he kept a diary the whole time. He tried to write faithfully everyday, but when the duties of combat called, he had to stop, and encapsulate a period of time in one entry later. His diary was his companion. It kept him close to himself. He never lost track of who he was, which was important in war time, when the bombs hurled over head. There’s nothing like your thoughts in one place to keep you grounded.
I am grateful to my parents for instilling the art of self actualization through journaling, and other artistic endeavors. Ideas, activities, feelings, travels, facts and dreams all get recorded to inform me of who I was when I was writing. Bad things turn out to seem not so bad. And, it’s useful when you want to know who you were with, where you spent time, and why you did the things you did at a given moment in time. Looking back at old entries is a magical way to experience the present and head on into the future. Day, after day.
Jupiter’s day in December. Midmorning – quiet. The subtle sound of an airplane was heard overhead and the simmering of the oatmeal on the stove sounded. A blue brightness surrounded. At 27 degrees it was cold, but as the afternoon wore on it never felt too cold to walk around outside. In fact it felt great to breathe the air into my lungs on my walk. A slight breeze rustled all day through the deep green hemlock promising a star would shine in the sky. The sun rose at 7:02 and set at 4:18 tagging on a couple more minutes of light. There was a new moon. A new moon, and another day were set in motion.
On a walk this morning up the street, the sun was shining and the temperature was pleasantly nearing some 50 degrees. The wind blew at varying tempos, fast, medium and slow. The rays of the sun came bouncing down to earth, dodging shadows in search of objects to reflect upon. The brilliance glistened silver on small sage leaves of olive bushes dotting the landscape. A nondescript tree had tiny reddish-brown leaves that whirled and whirled like tops. They hung on fiercely to the branches. Wind and sun converged in the air as I remembered fragments of a dream from the night before, where I inhabited a town of mean spirited, and kindred folk alike. Where a child lost in a sea of water called his mother for help. Others swam against the current, upstream. I roamed in and out of empty homes trying to find a place of friendship, when finally peace-loving souls welcomed me in. Relieved to be awake, reality reassured me I was alive in Autumn.
Excerpt from a novel by W. Somerset Maugham, “Of Human Bondage” Copyright 1915
Context: Philip, an entitled student was surprised at the ingratitude of his teacher, Monsieur Ducroz, when he gave him a ten-mark instead of eighteen pence, the usual pay. He felt pity for the old man who appeared ill and broken-spirited.
Place: A study in Heidelberg, Germany
He (Philip) was taken aback to find that the old teacher accepted the present as though it was his due. He was so young, he did not realize how much less is the sense of obligation in those who receive favours than in those who grant them.
A few days later Philip’s teacher returned to give his pupil his lesson. Before he left, he spoke the following.
If it hadn’t been for the money you gave me I should have starved. It was all I had to live on.
The year’s sad daughter,
A loveless maid,
A lamb for the slaughter,
An empty mirror,
A sunless morn,
A withered wreath,
The husk of corn,
A night that falls,
Without a tomorrow,
The month of sorrow.
Who can tell?
Where you fell,
To dream a spell
Till flower returneth…