Thursday, May 12, 2011

Why pretend

Art by Cora. A self-portrait, maybe?

My thoughts lately have been consumed by old photographs and the existences they account for. Spending so much time in Michigan with my grandparents’ photographs has made me contemplate the importance of the historical record. Someone could discover my old journals 100 years from now, and they could be important to them, or more than important. A record of how life was now.

My logbook from Secret is the same way. Even now I look at my nautical log and I’m able to inhabit the space I was in then, understand the weather, the challenges, the sail. I think of this site as a literal web log, a logbook in the truest sense, a record of my thoughts, my movement. I’m tracing my path and recording it in words, words that I hope will be important to someone, even if it’s only my own seventy-year-old self.

I love nostalgia. It’s a feeling no one can quite put in words, an ache that can possess me, overcome me, turn me into another person. It comes on suddenly, when I see backlit photographs, or remember a perfect, incandescent moment from my childhood, or just think of a moment from my past that will never come again. So much of the grief I felt during my grandparents’ funerals was actually nostalgia, a grief for a past forever lost.

I have so much difficulty with the passage of time, accepting that each moment is only here once and then gone forever. Maybe the reason I need to put words on paper, or onto an electronic server, is because it makes me feel like I’m freezing time, that I’m calcifying it at a single moment, like one of those Matrix shots where the camera swoops around the characters as they hover in stillness. Because otherwise we just blink and it’s gone.

2 comments:

Crosby Kenyon said...

Visiting uncle and aunt last weekend in their home they will soon have to leave, I looked out at their backyard and, as I knew it would, time jumped back 40 years, and there were my 5 cousins and me. I lived with them for a time. The past startles me more and more.

"The past is not dead. It's not even past."--Wm. Faulkner

Melissa said...

Indeed. It's amazing how one can be brought back to the past by a place, a fragrance, a song. Faulkner was right. Our past haunts us...