…May Appear Closer Than They Are…

Remember the old Meatloaf song? It was always one of my favorites. This weekend, Karen and I talked about the physiological difference between men and women in regards to depth perception. Apparently, women have poorer depth perception than men as a rule. She compared it to the rearview mirror of a car…that objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear.

I thought immediately of the Meatloaf song. Likely because I’ve been thinking a lot about memories.

The first time I recall it happening was soon after I began grad school. I had returned to my parents’ home to celebrate Christmas. The memories were so intrusive at times I thought that I could see myself running through the rooms as a child. I heard conversations that I had had with my parents as a child. The memories were so real I could almost reach out and touch them.

Normally that would have been a really cool experience. Christmas, after all, tends to bring back those sorts of recollections for many people. Since then, however, it has happened over and over, basically every time I visit my end of the family. For the long weekend this weekend, Karen and I traveled to visit my parents. For various engagements and things we needed to do, I drove the surface streets of the town in which I grew up this weekend. Sometimes, I don’t realize that I have that many strong memories connected with that place. Certain streets, certain restaurants, certain buildings bring back such powerful remembrances of events that occurred, and the people with whom they occurred, that they must border on flashbacks. Even moreso does this occur around my parents’ home. As I wandered their property this weekend, my mother showing me all of her “curb appeal” projects, I sometimes had to stop to wander away and remember what that part of the lawn used to look like, and what I pretended it was in my imaginary super-hero worlds: sometimes in the summer, sometimes covered with snow.

I wonder why I’m having such strong returns to childhood and high school days? When Karen and I were first married, the strong memories were of college years. Of late, the recollections are more all-inclusive, hitting every formative period of my history. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not hallucinating. No, really, I’m not. I just think that, at some point, my blinders have fallen off and I have come to appreciate the importance of personal histories.

Ironically, until the last five years, I have never been that interested in personal histories. I have always been more focused on the present and future. The past happened. I was aware of its details, and knew what had preceded the present accurately. I just didn’t see the point in dwelling on it. I think, in fact, that this was my family mindset, due to various geneological reasons I won’t go into here. The past is past. Now is more important.

Since being married, I’ve discovered that being wholly present in the now is dependent upon an appreciation for the then. Knowing that I have a branch of the family that is all my own now is very important in that regard, I think. Providentially, this was the time that I needed to gain that appreciation the most, and it is the time that I have. There’s a reason for that. I just don’t buy into coincidence.

I see myself in the stories of my family’s past. I see my wife in the stories of her family’s past. Those pasts have converged, and it is now our family. There is a foundation for the present. Its not always the strongest, but its there, and it is what we stand on.

As for the future? I’ll just say that I’ve learned to not plan life that carefully.

Photo Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/agude/

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