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Writing Practice #3: Curvilinear Thinking

September 2, 2017

For these exercises, I am pulling a random image from the internet and giving myself up to 1 hour to write something. 

Writing Practice- Day 3 - trees

Memory is what ties our present to our past. Without it, we become adrift in moments, experiencing each transient event as unique and without context. This can be freeing, I would imagine, but also quite terrifying.

When my mother’s memories began fading from her, as if she was unsuccessfully trying to hold a handful of sand, I saw the fear in her eyes as she tried to follow the branches of her thoughts from what she knew to what she tried to remember. And, just like climbing a tree, the gaps between thoughts were sometimes insurmountable. And, when the Parkinson’s and dementia took hold more and more, there would be times when she would be out on a limb, so to speak, without any connection to memory, and there would be a moment of joy at being just completely present in that exact moment. But it would be short-lived, as some part of her still knew there were supposed to be memories, and the fear would return.

Tennessee Williams wrote: “Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.”

In a “mindfulness” practice, the goal is to focus on the present, and pay attention to just this moment. Zen Buddhist teachings, and, I am sure, others, have similar tenets of practice to help focus attention to where it will do the most good for us.

Are humans the only sentient beings on this planet who understand the concept of memory, and, if so, are we the only ones who derive both solace and pain from having this capacity? I don’t believe so. I think animals, mountains, and, most definitely, trees have memories. And, what’s more, I think they all have the ability to experience time in a circular, or spherical, manner. What I think humans have cornered the market on is the experience of time as purely linear; flowing in a single direction from the past to the present, and into the future. Perhaps someday, we will learn otherwise, and, my hope is that we will lose our fear of forgetting, along with our constant drive to live in the future, while we miss the present.

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