Monday, August 2, 2010

Keepers of Memory

In the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge a mariner seems compelled to relate a tale of his killing of an albatross while at sea. The crime arouses the wrath of spirits who then pursue the ship "from the land of mist and snow"; the south wind that had initially led them from the land of ice now sends the ship into uncharted waters, where it is becalmed.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
I always saw it that the man had to have agreement from even perfect strangers - forgiveness on any level, but one professor I had talked about the keepers of memory and if all his shipments were dead the mariner needed others to keep his story alive. It seemed a larger message than one of atonement.

When we are young friendships seem such fleeting things and they come and go in our lives based on our interests, our jobs, a social platform, membership in a club. As we age the friendships that count are those that stay through whatever changes we make in our lives - moves, divorces, deaths, job transfers. Dad said once I should know myself lucky if I could count my true friends on the fingers of one hand. I could add that as you get older losing those friends is like cutting off a finger. You feel handicapped for a while.

And friend no longer defines just those people that will come to your rescue if you need but those with which you have shared significant events, times of transition - Keepers of Memory. I have two significant keepers of memory in my life today that may not be in it tomorrow. And so as I keep up on all the medical trivial that garners an intimate departure these days my mind flashes through the memories we shared. All this so close on the heels of others who left me in charge of their memories we shared.

It is not about how frequently or infrequently you see these significant others in your life but that when they call or you call or you bump into each other at a reunion or party you can immediately slip past the chitchat and go into fits of laughter over that event in the past; cry over a mutual loss; bond all over again almost immediately over a shared memory. So if you are not out making more memories with new people then soon you will be the last one left holding all the memories.

I went to my high school reunion website and was in the process of registering to possibly reconnect with some keepers of memories from way back and got to the question: What was the happiest memory you have of high school? I, without much thinking, typed in NONE. Some people keep memories we don't want to revisit. I exited the site. So I guess my message here is treasure the keepers of the good memories and keep making more memories with new people then soon you will be the last one left holding all the memories. Like the mariner you will find it a very heavy burden.

1 comment:

  1. Losing one's parents is the greatest loss in this regard. Lovely thoughts, you are so right.


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