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Saturday, July 26, 2003

Since I got back from vacation, I've started to worry a little about how I'm remembering it. Somehow I've let a few tiny negative incidents crystallize, while the gentle peace that I felt during most of my time at the lake has wafted away on a summer breeze. I can't let that happen.

Memory, like history, is a slanted and simplified record of the past. And as we get further away from remembered events, two things happen. First, they feel less and less like something that happened to us and more like a dream, something that happened in the mind instead of to the body. And second, whatever part of the memory we choose to think about shapes itself into the memory itself, with the nuances and context gradually stripped away.

I don't want that to happen to my good times at the lake. I have these sense memories of floating in the water, and tasting the great food, and watching the stars as the night breeze cut through the day's heat. If I have to forget all the good moments in order to keep one or two bad ones from overwhelming the rest of it, I'd rather do that.

Since I've learned not to believe the literal truth of accepted history, I've grown to appreciate my own memories in a different way as well. Every so often I can let go of the episodes, most of which are remembered for the wrong reasons anyway, and think of my childhood self as a figure in an impressionist painting instead of the hero of my own novel.

And that's how I want to remember this vacation, for the impressions it leaves behind, without the rocks and stones that tripped me up here and there. Otherwise, those pebbles could turn into boulders and the peaceful flow of memory will be jarred away from what's truly important.

Shasta Lake 2003 photo by Eric

Through the window of a moving houseboat.

I often wonder if some of the things I write make any sense to anyone but me. And then there are the times when I wonder if they make any sense even to me. I know what I'm saying when I write it, but reading it back can be like trying to figure out a bad translation from a different language.

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