Sunday, July 14, 2013


When do recollections stop being visceral?

Well over 500,000 hours have passed since I entered this universe.  I have more than six decades of events stored somewhere in my mind. Clearly, my brain is not smart enough to retrieve most of what is crammed into the nooks and crannies. But even when I do have the capacity to latch onto a distant moment, all I bring forward is an image painted in black and white, void of splashes of emotional color.

Much of my life feels like it happened to someone else. Or more precisely, it doesn't feel like it happened to me.

Yesterday, my daughter reported to me with great delight of her triumphs on a surf board. That brought forth the story of my one and only severely sun burned attempt to stand tall on a moving piece of furniture in the ocean. But 45 years removed from the actual event, there is no internal residual discomfort . Sure, I can recall  having to be given a shot to ease the pain caused after my way too vigorous rubbing of my back with my towel. But that itch is not mine, It belongs to some teenage idiot who spent a full day frying his skin under an unrelenting sun. It is not that I am disassociating from his lack of judgment. Rather, it is that he is a fictional character in a play. He is not me.

Am I alone in this universe? Do others feel their youth, and remain attached to what has brought them to this point? If some are instead as I am, then what is it that robs us of the sensation of joy and discomfort, the internal smiles and the tears and leaves us only with tales to recount?

I know that I was that small boy in the bathroom of my uncle's house, having to leave the playing field in the middle of a game when my manager told me I was going in to pitch the last 3 innings. I can recall being an unwelcome guest in the home of my college girlfriend for having committed the unpardonable sin of being born into the wrong religion. But to where did the panic of that 10 year old disappear? What happened to the response I surely felt at the unrelenting look of disgust I got from my girlfriend's grandmother?

I can and do recreate sentiments to attach to my past days. It is not that my world is without intense emotion, for I do feel deeply. I speak of my father daily and miss him greatly, almost 35 years after last we hugged. But those moments we spent together from the earliest days at the ballpark to the last hours in the hospital, how do I retrieve what is not part of my present day experience of those events?

And when does who I am as I put these words down lose its emotional vitality? Will I not feel what it was like to be 60 when I am 70? Or will it take until I am 80 to make this version of me but a picture on a wall?

More that half a million hours on this planet, more than 30 million minutes,  about 2 billion seconds since my name was added to the roll call. Maybe no one is equipped to carry that much baggage around with them. Maybe we all have to shed almost everything but the most essential so that our heads don't explode. Maybe what I have kept are only the gems and the rest, the emotional entanglements, are meant to fade into oblivion. I only wish that I believed I had more of a choice in the matter.

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