They are merely carried. . . set down, picked up, and dropped again (do over)


Make no mistake. Everything in the mind is in rat’s country. It doesn’t die. They are merely carried, these disparate memories, back and forth in the desert of a billion neurons, set down, picked up, and dropped again by mental pack rats. Nothing perishes, it is merely lost till a surgeon’s electrode starts the music of an old player piano whose scrolls are dust. Or you yourself do it, tossing in the restless nights, or even in the day on a strange street when a hurdy-gurdy plays. Nothing is lost, but it can never be again as it was. You will only find the bits and cry out because they were yourself. Nothing can begin again and go right, but still it is you, your mind, picking endlessly over the splintered glass of a mirror dropped and broken long ago.  That is all time is at the end when you are old – a splintered glass. I should never have gone to that place, never have accepted the engagement, never have spoken….

~ Loren Eiseley, “The Rat That Danced” from “All the Strange Hours. The Excavation of a Life.”

Image: via Starwill


  1. Oh this is a bit depressing? I should have never read it ha! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. such a wonderful description of the nature of memories. my post today is about a memory that was triggered yesterday by an old friend of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with Karen…this is a bit tough. An evocative description of memory, to be sure, but….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same response as to Karen above:

      Laughing. We are so human, so different. I thought EXACTLY as you did. Now, check out Beth in her comment above. We all read the same passage – and take something completely different away.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s true we are so different! and when I read it again this morning I can see this is a perfect description of regret and guilt and the heaviness and pain that creates within us when we carry it through life. “Truth takes a first step in “letting it go”, and for that reason sometimes a difficult one, too.” 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • And for some reason, this Kierkegaard quote I shared with Alan a few days ago came to mind (seems to come to mind often):

      Delusion is always floating; for that reason it sometimes appears quite light and spiritual, because it is so airy. Truth takes a first step, and for that reason sometimes a difficult one, too.”

      ~ Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Ohhh, very apt…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have to say, I rather enjoy the droppings of those “mental pack rats”. Even the bad memories can be cherished…they continuously have something to teach us. I don’t have many regrets…they all led me to a special place of comfort. ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  6. This is gorgeous. and true. and not true.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. We move forward – nothing should be as it was. It’s funny too how time allows our minds to diminish the negative and remember the good.


  8. Okay … I’ve read this 3 times now and it unsettles me. Going over memories with self criticism and regret is futile, and downright unhealthy. This isn’t living in the world. Its living in the head where thoughts run amok like rats.
    And that’s why mindfulness practices and yoga are so welcome.
    Thanks for the stimulant DK 💛

    Liked by 1 person

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