Of Saturday mornings so long ago

squinting into the sun in my cowboy hatAs I get older I find myself searching for memories. Sometimes things just pop into my head, but more often than not these days, I need some sort of prompt to help it along — a song, a smell, a vague movement, a sound. These are the things stored away in the living database that is consciousness. I wish, sometimes, that I could just Google my memory banks, because I really don’t want to lose all that is me.

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

I’m lost in the past this morning, awash in a sea of sights and sounds that are pummeling my mind. There I am, running around the house, chasing my brother. He’s the indian; I’m the cowboy. Whoosh, around the front porch, where my parents sit and holler for us to settle down, but who can settle when you’re chasing the bad guys? Whoosh, now racing down the driveway heading for the back yard and more joy.

That’s what youth is really supposed to be. Joy. No cares. Not on a summer day anyway. Safe in the knowledge that all is well and that the day was made just for me.

I lived outdoors as a little boy. Every day is a new adventure when you explore nature. The field that buffered the railroad tracks out back was my laboratory.

Two weekends ago, I built a rose garden in the backyard and had one of those flashbacks. As I dug holes, and the dirt collapsed and refilled the hole I was digging, I suddenly was back in that field behind my house. The land in Western Michigan is largely one, giant sand dune, so beneath the top soil, you’d find vast riches of golden sand that was perfect for digging. Sometimes we’d dig deep holes, and the walls stood in place until the sand began to dry out.

As I put another rose into another hole, the better part of me wasn’t in my backyard: I was a thousand miles and a lifetime away, deep into the caverns of my memory, there with my little shovel pretending to mine for gold in the imagination of my youth.

And so I sit here at my desk today thinking that time is a linear illusion and that in our minds, here and now only exist when we make it so. My body must live in the here and now, and that’s why it’s beginning to give me signs that it won’t be my home forever, for here and now soon becomes yesterday. To be human is to understand that this life is incredibly short and that to take even one moment for granted is to rob yourself of joy or at least potential joy.

And in that joy exists wonderful memories. Will those be lost when I’m gone? It doesn’t matter, for the point is to enjoy them today. I want to live, not just hope to live, which is what we do when we’re always planning for tomorrow.

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