I have no idea why, but I found myself completely awake at 3 this morning. Lying there in the darkness of a quiet room, my mind seemed consumed with memories of the past.
I was thinking about my folks, our Irish home. I was thinking about mistakes made and times gone.
I was thinking about wrongs that needed to be righted. I was thinking about frustrations that had to be endured.
And I was thinking about smiles shared.
It was a wild ride of busy thoughts that consumed my brain and refused to let my body go back to sleep.
I am sure we have all had nights like that and apart from having to eventually crawl out of bed in a state of tiredness, they can also leave us with a sense of longing. Longing for when times seemed simpler and less fraught.
That was me this morning, making my way down to where the kitties impatiently needed to be let out and another day begun.
Despite the stresses though, there was a sense of visitation that was actually calming, believe it or not. With both my parents now gone, there is no reason for me to take a physical return to Ireland. So, better just to go there in my dreams.
Reminds me of that song “Spancil Hill” which begins with:
“Last night as I lay dreaming,
of pleasant days gone by.
I stepped on board a vision,
And to Ireland I did fly”.
The writer obviously shared similar dreams with me and dreams are probably the best way to revisit our past. Our home.
Thomas Wolfe in his 1940 novel wrote “You can never go back home” and a wiser word has never been written. We enamor the past and select pieces that we choose to remember, while leaving others to be forgotten.
And when the ties to home (aka parents, for example) are gone, even the very nature of home changes on us.
So home is best reserved for memories.
But the word “home” isn’t restricted to a physical place or time. The old adage of “home is where the heart is” extends the concept to a place that may only exist in our mind. A moment that made us happy or gave us a feeling of comfort, achievement, fulfillment, or whatever.
Even if it is nothing more that a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie that we ate in a diner on our way somewhere. It is never the same when we go back to find it again.
Life is full of experiences that we encounter along our journey and the good ones should indeed be cherished but there is no need to try to relive them. We should keep them in our memories and keep moving forward to encounter new experiences before our journey’s end.
One of my trains of thought this morning brought me to a memory of the very first nature picture that I took. This is the very first pic that started me down the path of photography.
It was almost twenty years ago and a rain storm had drenched everything. It was just after I moved to Tampa from Ireland. There was still rain falling but I could see that there were drops caressing the edges of roses just outside our home in the flower bed.
So wearing just a pair of underwear, I went outside, lay on my back in the muddy flower bed and got the shot I wanted. It was a moment. I felt achievement and I often revisit that feeling even today when I am looking for inspiration.
I found the picture from then, a few moments ago, and attach it at the end of this blog.
It will always be a special moment for me. It started me on a path for certain. But there were also funny little attachments to the memory; like coming back indoors to find both my teenage daughters laughing at their soaked, muddy, almost naked, old-man.
I know I have taken images that are better since then, but they say you always remember your first. And I have such a soft spot for this one.
Oftentimes we look back on the past and see it through rose colored glasses (no pun intended). We see it the way we want to remember it. Or even perhaps we distort the memory into something that it wasn’t.
For example, one of my real problems with family pictures is that they are innately deceiving. Uncle Charlie pulls out the camera and says “Smile” and we all smile. Then we come across the picture in an album many years later and crave the days when we were so happy. I mean look, we are all smiling!
Photographs do indeed tell more than a thousand words. But many of them are lies.
Memories will recreate themselves within the shadows of our minds and step out from the darkness even at three in the morning. And the ones that carry fond thoughts attached to them, should be embraced and relived because they are indeed a feel-good moment.
Returning to such a moment is in many ways better than the original moment and such a visit can leave us with a positive feeling with which to launch into the new day.
I have had several visits with my folks in the past few years I would never forego even one of them. Invariably they bring my heart to a happy place and that is worth losing sleep over.
So, whether it is a person, a place, or a moment in time, we should indulge ourselves in these moments and take that trip home.
Our mind is taking us there for a reason!
Just a thought …