Memories are quite puzzling things. Think of it – in the time it takes to blink an eye, a memory can arise into consciousness from its hibernation – quite often unbidden – and carry with it all of the attendant emotions. Encapsulated within that memory, one can find a range of time from moments to years: a first kiss; a concert; a friendship.
The brain is amazing! And yes, I do believe that everything about our conscious experience can — and will someday — be entirely understood at the level of the brain, the most incredible supercomputer on offer.
“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself,” said Carl Sagan.
Sometimes, though, a memory can take hold and not let go. That inability to let go can turn ugly — sadness, despair, anger, resentment — or it can be transcendent — love, joy, peace, contentment.
Sometimes… it’s hard to tell.
Like, thinking about an old flame. Sure, that might be fun, even inspiring, but ultimately it’s a frustration that cannot — and likely should not — lead anywhere.
Or when gazing into the photographed eyes of a long-deceased parent — what an alien mixture of joyful longing and heartbreaking acceptance of fact.
What about pondering the demise of a friendship that ended abruptly in unexpectedly bitter words and anger?
When is it time to forgive?
In that moment — when cheeks are flushed, earlobes are hot, heart is throbbing with adrenaline and sadness, throat is raw from forcing out the vitriol — it seems that nothing could ever repair that ashen bridge.
But perhaps all is not lost.
There is nothing left here for me
Nothing for as far as my crying eyes can see
There is nothing left for me here
Nothing that’s worth me shedding another tear
Those lyrics were written while adrift in an emotional cyclone, mourning the loss of a friendship that gone painfully awry. Every time I sing them, I still feel the sting of their genesis.
A phone call and email this week from the friend for whom the song was written reminded me: ice hasn’t always been so. It was once water, flowing freely, refreshing and clear. Sure, that water might be damned cold at times and not at all inviting, but as long as it’s moving, there is an opportunity to move along with it.
So, spring has finally sprung here in the White Mountains — and the thaw feels good. I still have an eye on the snow that still persists at the shady end of the lawn, but it, too, will eventually have no choice but to succumb to the warmth.
My heart, I am sure, will do likewise.