Friday, February 07, 2014

Glory Days

Because I am in a thoughtful mood this morning and have some time to kill before heading off to a Weight Watchers meeting and errand running, I will reflect on memory. We all know about bad memories that can't be escaped. That is post traumatic stress disorder. Is there an equivalant kind of good memory, that keeps the past from being in the past? This is probably a bullshit question, but let's go on with it. Think of the Bruce Springsteen song "Glory Days," about the kids who hit their peak in high school, then descended into ordinary, working class lives. The song is not sad, because the characters in it can laugh over their glory days and their present lives.

I think this emotion would be nostalgia or regret. It could be pathological, I suppose. How often is it?

I have a firm rule that I will not regret the past. One learns from it, if possible, and moves on. There are memories I enjoy -- mostly trips and places, though I have fond memories of favorite people. I can still remember the first time I saw Patrick. It was at a poetry writing group in the Highland Park Library in Detroit. Patrick came in, pulled a can of beer from one jacket pocket and a second can of beer from the other pocket, set them both down on the table and said, "Let's make poetry." That caught my attention.

My most recent story draws on my memories of Afghanistan and Kabul, which are very old memories now.

More recent memories are trips to Duluth and down the Mississippi River or to the Black Hills. We've driven east a couple of times, going across southern Ontario and back into the US at Buffalo, a town with fabulous architecture. Twice we stopped at Niagara Falls, both times in November. They are well worth seeing, especially in the cold and ice, with very few tourists.

I can't say that I want to be back in those times, though I would like to revisit many places. And I would like an extended life span. The only thing I really regret is the 85 or 90 years we get (on an average) in Minnesota. I'd like to see more of the future. I guess I suffer from future regret.


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