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Monday, June 7, 2010

Inside Memory - Part 1 - I Remember

Inspired by Timothy Findley's book Inside Memory: Pages from a Writer's Workbook, this is post #1 in a series of 4 based on memory, relating to my 30th Birthday Month.  

The above quote (on the right) is from the Timothy Findley book. The section in that book that most speaks to me is the first one: Remembrance. It is the section which I will be pulling quotes from for this series. 

In Timothy Findley's book, he discusses the work of Anton Chekhov (a Russian playwright, short-story writer and physician):
 "Chekhov discovered the dramatic value of memory  - that a woman in tears remembers happiness; that a smiling, laughing man remembers pain. This gives you two views in one: depth and contrast. But, there's more to it than that. Memory, Chekhov also discovered, is the means by which most of us retain our sanity. The act of remembrance is good for people. Cathartic. Memory is the purgative by which we rid ourselves of the present."
What are the feelings that the above two photos evoke for me? The bottom one, as I recall, was taken in Houston, Texas, at a Burger King or McDonald's playground. I remember feeling happy that my brother wasn't being mean to me for a while - he and I were a team in a way, together, apart from the other children. I spent most of my childhood feeling like he just didn't want me around. The photo makes me feel both sadness and happiness. 

The one on the right was taken in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I went there, from Houston, in 1987 as part of a Western Canada trip to visit family. It was my cousin's birthday (she is the girl in the centre who is crying). Having been away from my extended family from the age of 2 until 7 (moved to Houston from Vancouver at that point), I felt strange, having my family's attention. Even at the age of 7, I was a bit of a loner, used to spending time alone. My cousins (the 2 at the centre) actually wanted to play with me. This was a very strange thing for me. Years later (when I was 12), having moved to Calgary, where they moved, I never got used to the idea of their desire to hang out with me. 

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