It’s been wisely said the three most compelling sounds in nature are the surf of the sea on a shore, the rustle of leaves in a forest, and the wind of heaven through a mountainside. Also, as every music fan of Simon & Garfunkel understand, there are the deafening sounds of silence.
These last sounds — not everyone hears them. Or tries to. They are the sounds that echo in your mind if you are a thinker yet at the same time in your heart if you are a poet. And really now, aren’t we all poets whenever we are happy to be alone with our finest memories?
Memories may be fleeting, but hardly fragile. They possess a fierce efficacy from which storehouses of psychic energy can be drawn. It was the angry memory of Pearl Harbor which fueled the nation with righteous wrath to defeat Japan in the Pacific…it was the bitter memory of 9/11 which roused the sleeping giant in us…and it is also the gentle memory of long ago parents, siblings and soul-mates which stir our soul and give aim to our arrows.
Thinker-poets like Marcel Proust mastered the art of remembering in his “Remembrances of Things Past.” Not the kind of journey for the young, for the young are here, now, forever in the present. And yet, without them even realizing it, the tabula rasa of their young lives is already being indelibly marked with moments that will eventually epiphanize into memories. Another thinker-poet, John Updike, was a master of memories, saying: “The most indelible of these are those events in your first 20 years of life, whose impact on us is like asteroids digging into the planet’s surface. There is immediate recall; and how fortunate for us.”
Last night’s concert…last month’s trip…last year’s love….the last time you saw Paris. If anything this side of heaven is immortal, it is the memory-refined glow of these ticks in time. We slip them into photo albums and onto video files, but their immortality is really found on the pedestals of our past which we keep accumulating in the galleries of our minds.
A gift of God? A consequence of evolution? An as yet unfathomed corner of our cortex? Does it really matter? Not even the world’s harshest concentration camps nor its loudest social media can erase them. Only we can do that. But if we so decide, lets be sure which and how we will silence these sounds…
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