It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is a little child within …
This child is still there… inside you… waiting…
Let’s love and treasure this little child.
Image from Women who run with the moon Facebook page
From Memory Quote
“The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth practice, the fifth teaching others.”
Solomon Ibn Gabriol
* * *
“Giver,” Jonas asked the next afternoon, “Do you ever think about release?”…
“I guess I do think about it occasionally,” The Giver said. “I think about my own release when I’m in an awful lot of pain. I wish I could put in a request for it, sometimes. But I’m not permitted to do that until the new Receiver is trained.”…
“Me,” Jonas said in a dejected voice. He was not looking forward to the end of the training, when he would become the new Receiver. It was clear to him what a terribly difficult and lonely life it was, despite the honor.
“I can’t request release either,” Jonas pointed out. “It was in my rules.”
The Giver laughed harshly. “I know that. They hammered out those rules after the failure ten years ago.”…
“Giver,” he said, “tell me what happened. Please.”…
The Giver looked sad, thinking about it. “She was a remarkable young woman. Very self-possessed and serene. Intelligent, eager to learn.”… I loved her…
“What happened to her?” Jonas asked.
“Her training began. She received well, as you do. She was so enthusiastic. So delighted to experience new things. I remember her laughter…”
The Giver closed his eyes. “It broke my heart, Jonas, to transfer pain to her. But it was my job. It was what I had to do, the way I’ve had to do it to you.”…
“Five weeks. That was all. I gave her happy memories: a ride on a merry-go-round; a kitten to play with; a picnic. Sometimes I chose one just because I knew it would make her laugh, and I so treasured the sound of that laughter in this room that had always been so silent.
“But she was like you, Jonas. She wanted to experience everything. She knew that it was her responsibility. And so she asked me for more difficult memories.”
Jonas held his breath for a moment. “You didn’t give her war, did you? Not after just five weeks?”
The Giver shook is head and sighed. “No. And I didn’t give her physical pain. But I gave her loneliness. And I gave her loss. I transferred a memory of a child taken from its parents. That was the first one. She appeared stunned at its end.”…
The Giver continued. “I backed off, gave her more little delights. But everything changed, once she knew about pain. I could see it in her eyes.”…
“She insisted that I continue, that I not spare her. She said it was her duty. And I knew, of course, that she was correct…
“I gave her anguish of many kinds. Poverty, and hunger, and terror….
“Finally one afternoon, we finished for the day. It had been a hard session. I tried to finish – as I do with you – by transferring something happy and cheerful. But the times of laughter were gone by then. She stood up very silently, frowning, as if she were making a decision. Then she came over to me and put her arms around me. She kissed my cheek…. She left here that day, left this room, and did not go back to her dwelling. I was notified by the Speaker that she had gone directly to the Chief Elder and asked to be released.”…
“When the Speaker notified me that Rosemary had applied for release, they turned on the tape to show me the process. There she was – my last glimpse of that beautiful child – waiting. They bought in the syringe and asked her to roll up her sleeve… And I listened as Rosemary told them that she would prefer to inject herself.
“Then she did so. I didn’t watch. I looked away.”…
Jonas stared at him. “Release is always like that? For people who break the rules three times? For the Old? Do they kill the Old, too?
“Yes, it’s true.”
“And what about Fiona? She loves the Old! She’s in training to care for them. Does she know yet? What will she do when she finds out? How will she feel?” Jonas brushed wetness from his face with the back of one hand.
“Fiona is already being trained in the fine art of release.” The Giver told him. “She’s very efficient at her work, your red-haired friend. Feelings are not part of the life she’s learned.”…
“Jonas,” The Giver said, after a moment, “it’s true that it has been this way for what seems forever. But the memories tell us that it has not always been. People felt things once…. We know that they once felt things like pride, and sorrow, and – “
“And love,” Jonas added, remembering the family scene that had so affected him. “And pain.” He thought again of the soldier.
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”…
The Giver shook his head. “Jonas,” he said, “the community has depended, all these generations, back and back and back, on a resident Receiver to hold their memories for them. I’ve turned over many of them to you in the past year…. If you get away, if you get beyond, if you get to Elsewhere, it will mean that the community has to bear the burden themselves, of the memories you had been holding for them.
“I think that they can, and that they will acquire some wisdom. But it will be desperately hard for them…. Remember how I helped you in the beginning, when the receiving of memories was new to you?”
Jonas nodded. “It was scary at first. And it hurt a lot.”
“You needed me then. And now they will…. My work will be finished… when I have helped the community to change and become whole… When my work here is finished, I want to be with my daughter.”
Jonas had been staring glumly at the floor. Now he looked up, startled. “I didn’t know you had a daughter, Giver!”…
Her name was Rosemary,” the Giver said.
* * *
Painful memories are often the hardest to forget. No matter how hard we are trying to shake them off, they leave permanent wrinkles in the fabric of our souls and keep coming back to our minds.
For years scientists were trying to discovered a magic drug that could ‘erase’ painful memories and help people deal with trauma. What effect however that might have on us and our lives? As we learn to avoid dangerous situations by recalling moments of fear and pain, what will happen to all that learning once we get our bad memories erased or re-written? How will our identities change if we no longer remember the things that have hurt us?
Interestingly enough, according to some recent research stressful events in life can be a contributing factor to developing dementia in later life. Could that be the nature’s way of easing the pain of bad memories?
* * *
“You are out of my sight, but you will never be out of my heart, I may not see your face, but I will always remember your smile, I will never hear your voice again but you will forever whisper in my ear, I never got to say goodbye to you, or tell you how much you really meant to me, one day we will meet at heavens gates and I will be with you again and this time it will be forever.”
“War is hell, but sometimes in the midst of that Hell men do things that Heaven itself must be proud of. A hand grenade is hurled into a group of men. One of the men throws himself on top of it, making his body a living shield. In the burst of wild fire he dies, and the others live. Heroism is only a word, often a phony one. This is an action for which there is no good word because we can hardly even imagine it, let alone give it its proper name. Very literally, one man takes death into his bowels, takes fire into his own sweet flesh, so that the other men can take life, some of them men he hardly knows.”
Heroes in real life rarely look like the all-mighty supermen or superwomen from books and movies. They might speak different languages, live in different parts of the world, wear different clothes, belong to different generations. Heroism is also not confined to wars. Japan’s nuclear crisis provided a good example of such non-war-related self-sacrifice with retired engineers volunteering to repair the Fukushima nuclear power plants to prevent younger people from radiation exposure.
What is common between all heroes is their brave action to give their lives to something bigger than them, to sacrifice their lives for others to make this world a better place. That’s why the memory of them never dies in our hearts.
From Hippie Peace Freaks
“We tell ourselves stories every day. This is a story. A story of how we take the events of our lives and turn them into memories. And of how we can remake those memories by telling new stories to change our lives.
Every story is built on themes and although there can be an infinite number of stories there are a limited number of themes. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what our lives are about are just so. We can be the hero, antagonist or victim. Our lives can be heroic or tragic, fulfilling or empty, happy or sad. It all depends on the story we write and the stage on which we perform.
Just as a stage contains props to support a play, so do we select from life’s myriad events the bits and pieces of evidence we use to support our life stories. If ours’ is a story of popularity, we remember only what supports that story. Conversely, if our story is that of rejection we’ll only remember the looks, remarks and behavior that make us feel rejected. We store these as memories and replay them whenever we want to relive or convince ourselves that the story is true.
Most of the time we don’t even realize how our life story determines what we’ll remember. Or how we force the events in our life to conform to that story….
Our memories are amendable and adjustable to the stories we tell ourselves. When we recall a memory we can subtly alter and update it to our story so that when the brain stores it again, it is no longer the memory it once was. That means if our memories are painful or unpleasant we can alter them simply by telling a different story when they arise. It also means that if we don’t like the story we’ve been telling, we cannot only change it but the memories that support it as well.
Memories are not just images that we replay in our minds but the emotions we bring forth as well. So if we can alter our memories we can also change our feelings.”
* * *
What story are you telling yourself?
What do you see, nurses what do you see
Are you thinking when you are looking at me
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes,
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice –I do wish you’d try
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And for ever is losing a stocking or shoe,
Who unresisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill
Is that what you are thinking, is that what you see,
Then open your eyes, nurses, you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I used at your bidding, as I eat at your will,
I am a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another,
A young girl of 16 with wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet;
A bride at 20 — my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep
At 25 now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure, happy home;
A women of 30 my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last,
At 40 my young sons have grown and are gone;
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn;
At 50, once more babies play around my knee.
Again we know children, my loved one me
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread,
For my young are all rearing young of their own
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.
I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel
’tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where once was a heart
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells
And now and again my battered heart swells
I remember the joys I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years all too few – gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses open and see
Not a crabbit old women look closer – see me.
“Each man carries within him the soul of a poet who died young.”
( Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1900-1944 )