*In response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Awakening
The WordPress Photo Challenge theme this week is evanescent, defined as something “soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence.” I thought about the many directions in which this could go before settling on memory itself: slippery, fleeting, but a holder of great power.
We filter – sometimes inexplicably – the data that stays with us. It’s absurd that I can remember the inane lyrics to jingles from 1980s TV commercials, but the name of a person I’ve just met immediately vanishes into some sort of mnemonic black hole in my brain.
Our memories aren’t always clearly defined or fixed. More often, they’re stretchy and pliable; they’re coloured by perspective and frayed by time. We equate our own memories with truth – the truth? our truth? – but we have to be wary that they’re inevitably tied to our gamut of emotions and biases.
Despite the complexity and sometimes fickle nature of our memories, there can be no doubt that they help shape our most intimate personal connections, that they’re among the ingredients with which our values and behaviours and relationships are formed. Intentionally or not, our memories continually teach us and play a hand in guiding our choices.
And even when the details of a memory have been dulled or altered by time or circumstance, the complex emotions associated with it will linger, ingrained. A quote often attributed to Maya Angelou (but not verified) states: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If you’ve been touched by the experience of a loved one with an illness like dementia or a brain injury, you can begin to understand the heartbreak of witnessing progressive memory loss. For those afflicted, short-term memories are fleeting and can evaporate within moments. Long-term memories can become distorted or even completely fabricated. Personality and mood can shift and waver unpredictably. Caregivers and loved ones often experience confusion, helplessness and the pain of what seems like a prolonged and incremental state of grief.
For today’s post, then, I chose a photo I made of this tiny spring bloom. The “forget-me-not” as a symbol for those struggling with memory loss seems like rather cruel irony. But ultimately, it represents something deeper, wider: connection and loyalty and remembrance; a delicate reminder of love never lost, despite separation by time, or by space, or even by a memory-stealing illness.
However complicated or messy it may be… love remains.
This morning, the breeze was warm against my face as we walked to school. The birds flapped and fussed, the air carried a sweet, light scent (smelled like joy to me) and I DIDN’T EVEN NEED A JACKET.
In honour of this amazing spring day, I’ll share with you a few of the critters I “captured” during a recent hike. I’m guessing they’re just as excited as I am that spring has arrived.
I hope it’s beautiful wherever you are. Thanks, as always, for stopping by.
The Mr. and I have a long-running joke about my obliviousness. Apparently, at least in certain situations, I’m known for my lack of observational skill.
He teases that I’d fail to notice even obvious occurrences taking place around me, such as, for example, an exploding building or an approaching mob of evil clowns.
I agree that I may be slightly challenged in this regard. Sometimes I accidentally ignore people I know when I unexpectedly encounter them in public places. More than once I’ve had to apologize after the fact to friends and neighbours who have waved to me from afar, only to have me return their greeting with nothing but a vacant, unintentionally grouchy expression.
In my defence: I (usually) have no ill will against these people I’m supposed to recognize. I’m simply lost in my own little world. Evidently, when I’m busy doing something, such as walking or thinking – especially walking and thinking – my brain is only capable of a limited amount of sensory input. Friends and acquaintances, I assure you: my failure to notice you is nothing personal. I apologize for being rude.
(Strangely, though, I’m very observant when it comes to, say, the whereabouts of my library books, which household bills are due when, and whether the bird-feeder needs refilling. Make of that what you will.)
Through my dabbling in photography, I’m learning that the skill of observation can be improved. (Thankfully, because those evil clowns are super creepy and I’d like to notice them in enough time to get far, far away.)
Do you ever notice something for the first time and then begin see it everywhere?
Lines, for example. I’ve never, ever noticed lines as much as I do now, because I want to record them with the camera. Lines in the roads, lines in the trees, lines in the clouds. The grid of windows on a building, the curl of my daughter’s hair, the sweeping curves of hosta leaves emerging from the earth. (A-ha! The accompanying photo to this post! You knew I’d get there. Eventually.)
Being observant is being present. And I’m sure I’m not alone in the challenge of being present – really and truly aware – more often. If photography is helping me slow down and sharpen some of my senses – at least the art of seeing, of noticing – perhaps there’s hope for me.
If I smile and wave back next time you see me at the mall, you’ll know it’s working.
(I’m pleased to contribute this ribbed hosta to Tuesdays of Texture, a weekly feature over at De Monte y Mar.)
Thanks for showing us the way.
💗 Happy Mother’s Day 💗