Thank you so much for all the kind comments and supportive emails. I do feel so sad, as does the housemate who knew and loved Trish as I did, but it was a friendship without regrets or shadows and I am glad she is no longer suffering so much. And yes, . I shall miss her more and more as the years pass and she is no longer there in my life, that laugh on the phone, that quirky quick mind brightening the day, that love she had for all around her.
Unexpected encounters with the sober self. I see the musician Neil Young has decided to sober up after 40 years and is a little bemused by what he finds:
“The straighter I am, the more alert I am, the less I know myself and the harder it is to recognise myself,” Young explains in his forthcoming memoir, Waging Heavy Peace. “I need a little grounding in something and I am looking for it everywhere.”
Ain’t that the truth.
How do we relate to the past and to our memory of the past? I was wondering about this while reading Syd’s account of going back to his hometown and deciding to pay a visit to the graveyard where his parents and their parents lie buried. We honour the past, we don’t turn our backs on the past — and yet we resist any temptations to live within the tyranny of the past. Came across another thinker who has written on this, the historian who wrote about Rwanda’s genocide, Philip Gourevitch:
But what really interests me ultimately is not to record the past, so much as how people live with the past and get on with it. There’s a kind of fetishization of memory in our culture. Some of it comes from the experience and the memorial culture of the Holocaust—the injunction to remember. And it also comes from the strange collision of Freud and human rights thinking—the belief that anything that is not exposed and addressed and dealt with is festering and going to come back to destroy you. This is obviously not true. Memory is not such a cure-all. On the contrary, many of the great political crimes of recent history were committed in large part in the name of memory. The difference between memory and grudge is not always clean. Memories can hold you back, they can be a terrible burden, even an illness. Yes, memory—hallowed memory—can be a kind of disease. That’s one of the reasons that in every culture we have memorial structures and memorial days, whether for personal grief or for collective historical traumas. Because you need to get on with life the rest of the time and not feel the past too badly. I’m not talking about letting memory go. The thing is to contain memory, and then, on those days, or in those places, you can turn on the tap and really touch and feel it. The idea is not oblivion or even denial of memory. It’s about not poisoning ourselves with memory.
And as I busy myself gardening this morning, going out with a small spade and watering can in the sunshine, I’m very conscious of the present becoming past, time flying past. The conundrum of time. The sweet Celtic melancholy of Enya’s Only Time in closing, then…