Swan

swan

When I was very young, my Mother took me for walks in Humboldt Park, along the edge of the Prairie River. I have vague memories, like impressions on glass plates, of an old boathouse, a circular band shell, an arched stone bridge. The narrows of the river emptied into a wide lagoon and I saw upon its surface a singular miracle. A long curving neck rose from a dress of white plumage.

Swan, my mother said, sensing my excitement. It pattered the bright water, flapping its great wings, and lifted into the sky.

The word alone hardly attested to its magnificence nor conveyed the emotion it produced. The sight of it generated an urge I had no words for, a desire to speak of the swan, to say something of its whiteness, the explosive nature of its movement, and the slow beating of its wings.

The swan became one with the sky. I struggled to find words to describe my own sense of it. Swan, I repeated, not entirely satisfied, and I felt a twinge, a curious yearning, imperceptible to passersby, my mother, the trees, or the clouds.

~ Patti Smith, Just Kids


Photo: Swan by tatsuo yamaguchi (via Superbnature)

Saturday Morning (that hopeful sounding on the roof)

catch-raindrops-rain-mouth

It’s raining this morning.
That hopeful sounding on the roof.
I can almost hear the roots
suck water through their fragile hairs,
raising it through the tough trunk
into the cloud-shaped canopy of the live oak […]

Can’t you remember being a child,
opening your mouth to the rain?

— Ellen Bass, “Sometimes I’m frightened


Sources: Photo by t does wool– “walking between the raindrops.’ Poem – Memory’s Landscape

Saturday Matinee

movie-theatre
The movies on allowance day.

Queues winding round corners, making the feast inside even more fantastic because access to it was so difficult. I no longer remember everything I saw, but the emotions, the excitement, the smell are still vivid. The sound of a bell, the light slowly dimming. Eyes tight shut, the more so for the hands pressed against them; and when finally you looked again, the miracle was already there on the screen. The pictures, the flight from reality, the world of dreams: experiences and people I believed would become part of my everyday life in the future. Tragedies so great that there was still a lump in the throat many hours later. Wonders so great that my feet did not touch the ground all the way home.

~ Liv Ullman, Changing (Knopf, 1976)


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly

butterfly-hand-black-and-white

There were days
when we could catch light
in a butterfly net.

~ Richard Jackson, from “That’s What I’m Talking About,” Resonance: Poems


Notes:

  • Image Source: Journal of a Nobody. Poem: Memory’s Landscape
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

I’d rather live in the instant than ‘gram the instant

12culture-look-sign-2-tmagArticle

This was just that good. Leading me to share more than a few excerpts from Walter Kirn‘s excellent essay titled: Remembrance of Things Lost:

What if Marcel Proust had kept an Instagram account? What if he’d used a smartphone to snap a photo of every evocative morsel he’d ever eaten? Would he still have written “In Search of Lost Time”…

…When I try to recall my childhood…I don’t have recourse to an exhaustive catalog of images and documents. My parents never shot home movies and they took family photos only rarely, on ceremonial occasions when everyone was compelled to smile tautly and mask what was really going on inside them. As a consequence, revisiting my youth can feel rather like a homicide investigation. Working from clues and the accounts of witnesses, including the highly unreliable one who lives behind my eyeballs, I wait for scenarios to form and patterns to emerge. If they seem plausible I delve into them further, especially if the images align with the murky emotions they conjure up. I tend not to question the resulting mental scenes despite being well aware that photographs and secondhand stories have been shown to create false memories. Clear or hazy, bright or dim, my recollections are private, mine alone, and written in synaptic smoke, not subject to verification by instant replay.

…What makes memories precious, even certain “bad” ones, is forgetting, of course. Remember forgetting? …Memory is an imaginative act; first we imagine what we’ll want to keep and then we fashion stories from what we’ve kept. Memories don’t just happen, they are built…the human mind is not a hard drive, a neutral repository of information. The melancholy passage of the years tends to change our values as we age, and the awesome backflips of 13 don’t hold the magic they once did; not when compared to the image of a loved one who has since gone absent, say. If I’d had a smartphone with a video camera back in my early adolescence, I doubt that I would have trained it on the things that matter to me now, like the sight of my mother reading in her blue armchair, underlining passages from Proust.

…One reason that I’ve never kept a journal is that the attention that goes into keeping one is, I feel, more profitably spent on engaging with the moment. I’d rather live in the instant than ‘gram the instant.

A remembrance never formed is worse, far worse, than a remembrance lost. At 52, increasingly forgetful, I sometimes rack my brain for past experiences that I’m positive are in there somewhere and draw a blank. It’s frustrating, but the blank still marks a spot — a spot where a memory used to be and might, if I eat the right cake, reappear. What makes memory magical is its imperfections and its unpredictability; try as we might, we never quite control it. It draws our attention to the margins of stories that once seemed to be the main events. Someday, when my son reviews his footage, what will come back to him may not be his ski stunts but other aspects of that winter day: the voices of his friends, the shadows on the mountain, the face of his father beside him in the car.

Don’t miss Walter Kirn’s entire essay @ Remembrance of Things Lost:


Image: NY Times Magazine.  A 2011 installation of printouts of photos that had been uploaded to Flickr over a 24-hour period.Credit “24 HRS in Photos,” by Erik Kessels at Foam in Amsterdam, KesselsKramer

Those nagging what ifs

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Everyone who gives up a serious childhood dream — of becoming an artist, a doctor, an engineer, an athlete — lives the rest of their life with a sense of loss, with nagging what ifs. […]

Only a very few loves can disappoint you so fundamentally that you feel you’ve lost yourself when they’re gone. Quitting music wounded me as deeply as any relationship in my life. It was my first great loss, this innocent, awkward failure to live with what I heard and felt. For more than ten years I avoided music. It hurt too much. My anger went as deep as my love had gone. I suppose this is natural. In the aftermath of something so painful, we subsist on bitterness, which sustains us against even greater loss.

~ Glenn Kurtz in Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music


Photo: By Majewska via banishedagain

TT*: Wow, I thought. What am I gonna do with love like this

child-sleeping-light

“I thought she was sleeping until I heard her call out from across the room, “Will you bring me a glass of water?” I did. Then in her always-sleepy tone and drawl she said, “Do you remember when you were a little boy and you would ask your mama to bring you a glass of water?” Yeah. “You know how half the time you weren’t even thirsty. You just wanted that hand that was attached to that glass that was attached to that person you just wanted to stay there until you fell asleep.” She took the glass of water that I brought her and just sat it down full on the table next to her. Wow, I thought. What am I gonna do with love like this.”

Dito Montiel, “One Night,” A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, A Memoir


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Photograph: Adriana Varela

TT*: “This is living,” he said, “huh, Charlie boy?”

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I watched the whole performance from a tiny table by the window. We’d done our business at the bank and now we each had big piece of chocolate layer cake, thick with icing. It was yellow cake. I don’t know how they got it yellow but they did and the yellow was beautiful against the warm brown frosting. We loved that chocolate cake. This was a good day, a really good day, and I knew what was coming next. My father stared for a long while out the window, at what, I don’t know, but I waited, waited for his famous phrase, sure it would come, and when his reverie broke and he returned to the bakery and our little table, he smiled at me, then looked down at his cake, and there it was, sure as rain.

“This is living,” he said, “huh, Charlie boy?”

~ Charles D’Ambrosio, This is Living. Loitering: New and Collected Essays


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Image: Add a Pinch

TT*: Hear the playing cards slap in the spokes

bicycle-memories-ride

The child is riding her bicycle up the hill. I stand and look around; the thick summer foliage blocks the road from view. I turn back toward the river and hear the playing cards slap in the spokes. They click and slap slowly, for the hill is steep. Now the pushing grows suddenly easier, evidently; the cards click and slap. At once, imperceptibly, she starts down. The pace increases. The cards are slapping and she is rolling; the pace speeds up, she is rolling, and the cards are slapping so fast the sounds blur. And so she whirs down the hill. I can see her through the woods downstream where the road evens out. She is fine, still coasting, and leaning way back.

~ Annie Dillard, “Aces and Eights.” Teaching a Stone to Talk.


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Image: Maurizio Raffa via Sensual Starfish

Throwback Thursday

marble


Source: Your Eyes Blaze Out

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