I don’t remember a time in my life when I was not awe struck with fascination at how human beings processes their every-day-life, personal experiences. I believe man is created in the image and essence of God: we are spirit beings with a soul and mind all contained in an earth suit (body) which enables us to interact with the world around us. I believe all parts of the human receive external input; filter the input; logging that input away within the being giving us what we call memories.
Some bring smiles, some tears. I believe all experiences are what form a whole human being and I have just a few to share from my own early years.
My first conscious memories before the age of five, we were in Texas, Galveston, I believe. A typical median income, residential neighborhood where I was safe to roam.
Across the street from our home was the home of my best friend, if a 3 to 4 year old can have a best-friend. It was at her home I would have my first (almost) sleep over. Although I was only across the street I felt I was across the universe. My friend lay sleeping, warm and safe, in the heart of her own world while I sat in the bed next to her whimpering longing for my own world a full universe away.
I recall the sweetness of my friend’s mother who was so very patient with me and tried everything she could to make me comfortable in her home, yet my mother would make her first midnight rescue mission across the street to save her teary-eyed, home-sick daughter.
At that same home one of my first allergies was revealed. Along my friends driveway was a mammoth oak tree. At the base of this tree was an earthen pyramid that I was completely taken with. After staring at it for some time I realized there was business going on inside this thing! I watched little critters move the equivalent of mountains. It was more than I could take, standing there, only able to see the surface! I had to see what was going on below. Taking a stick, brushing at the mound with my friend following suit, we soon learned how aggressively and with what power these little creatures act to protect their life’s work. Thus began little girl screams; parents running to asses the situation; little girls being stripped down in the driveway and sprayed with a hose until the ants were removed. The drama of the initial contact and consequential violent reaction within my body drove home the reality that red-ants are tiny yet powerful and are better observed in little glass ant farms.
Galveston Bay holds fond memories of family and friends picnicking and swimming. Swimming was not something I had yet mastered. I remember having to wear a life vest. Mine was not the fun little character themed flotation devices that kids get today. No, just a normal, safety orange, don’t-drown-if-you-fall-in-the-water, bulky life vest.
One of those friend filled, good food, little-girl-giggle trips to the bay suddenly turned dark as some well-intended parent decided it would be a good time for a swimming lesson. Life vest buckled tight, I was marched to the end of the dock, dropped into the bay and told to paddle back to shore.
Unwilling to make the paddle, wanting out of the water immediately I took, what seemed to me, the quickest route out—the dock from which I was dropped in. That was the day I was introduced to barnacles and how, even though they cannot move about freely like an ant, they can inflict severe wounds to any and all that come in contact with them. After what seemed an eternity clinging to the barnacle covered piling of the dock, being sliced open all the while by said barnacles, I was pulled from the water bloodied and screaming.
I have to pause and ask, isn’t it fascinating how pain burns memories in? I know that within those same years in Galveston, Texas many wonderful things happened to me, but I can recall so little of them. I know those bright, happy moments are in my being somewhere though.
One of those shinning, happy memories from this time in my life is of a sweet, older couple who lived several doors down and across the street. They had a small dog, a strawberry patch, bowls of peppermints and candied orange slices. I distinctly remember the joy of picking the strawberries, playing with the dog and sitting at their kitchen bar deliberating over which sugary treat I would indulge in.
The day I and my family was pulling out to move to another place these sweet, grandparental, neighbors walked down with a plastic tub filled with peppermints and orange slices. They saw us off with kind words, a kiss on the cheek and the tub filled with “sweets for the sweet,” they said. I remember the tears.
I know there are volumes of psycho-babble written about why we retain certain experiences in our conscious memory and why some are buried so deeply that recall is almost impossible. I have read and studied some of these theories as human nature is my obsession. As the point of this writing is not to prove or disprove one or the other of the dozens of theories I will stick to my own experiences and things I have come to know to be true. Truths I derived from the earliest of age on through today.
Pain is a very good teacher. I do not understand why this has to be so. Why it is part of the human beings ‘Standard Operating Procedures’, but it is, non-the-less true.
I am sure at some point in my early childhood some adult somewhere showed me an ant mound and warned me of the dangers within. I did not log that warning away because it did not come with pain.
I am also quite confident that when I was unwillingly tossed into Galveston Bay and told to paddle to shore, some adult seeing me paddle instead, towards the dock where ultimate pain and suffering awaited, hollered for me to go to shore and not to the dock.
In my determination to do what I wanted to do instead of what was being asked of me I would not hear the warning, I would not see what they were warning me about. I suffered the consequences of not listening, not seeing and I learned.
I learned on both occasions lessons about laws of nature. How I can and cannot engage certain parts of the world around me, regardless of what I wanted or didn’t want, without dire consequence.
Question. If pain is what burns memories in leaving me with valuable life lessons then why does the sweetness of my friend and her family and the older couple down the street remain within my conscious mind? Why is their love woven into the fabric of my being?
I believe it is because love, according to it’s original definition, was to be THE WAY. The way human’s grow, learn, interact with each other and the natural world around them.
More on this and the next installment of my little life to come…