What’s the first memory you remember? What’s the last recollection you recall? Do you recollect where you finished or when you began? Were you finishing what you began when you finished? How did you come to be? What happened before me? Where did it begin, how will it end and what did I do in the mean time?
It’s highly possible that at some undetermined point in life, in one form or another, an inquiry will be or has been inquired of us, either by our peers or of ourselves. The subject may be bridged loosely for the simple sake of conversation in a casual social gathering with friends. On the other hand, this query may be pursued in a more serious environment, leading into deeply profound discussions. The question in question being: “What is your first memory?”
Initially this may not be or even seem to be a sensitive matter for most. However, as many of you know, the sensitivity of any subject matter depends entirely upon your audience and more importantly your answer. In my case the question was posed in the form of a written, to be presented to the class, assignment in elementary school. Ironically my age or grade at the time of this event now eludes me. However, the feelings experienced and reactions to my answer are still vivid in my mind.
Tense anticipation mounted as my fellow classmates stood by their desks and verbally presented their “earliest memory”. Some were humorous, others sweet and to my distressed bewilderment none of them were anything like mine own. Finally it was my turn. Nervously standing, with a quick glance round, all eyes on me, and my earliest memory went something like this-
“I’m seeing thru mine own eyes, so I cannot see myself. So as far as my age I can’t tell. But I’m floating or hovering and somehow know there are no feet beneath me. Looking thru bushes with dark purple leaves and watching. Before me there are other “objects?” small almost featureless forms composed mostly of a brilliant white light. The closest thing I could recognizably resemble and relate them to in the “real world” is cherubs. Somehow that seems what they are. I do not fear them because I know them and they and I are all the same. They are “looking?” into a lipid, bluish black pool encased in a circle of dark blue luminescent stones. With joyful happiness they beckon me forward because it is my turn to look into the pool. Maybe (and I like to think) we are little souls and this is where we choose the life we will live. There is no memory of what I glimpsed when I looked into the pool. I only remembering touching the water, creating a ripple and after that- I think my life began.”
There was a long pause filled with embarrassment and confusion- “don’t any of you remember this too? I’m certain we were all there!” Dumbfounded silence surrounded me. Cruelly broken by the “look at me I’m desperate for attention at the sake of other’s feelings” class clown, a.k.a. that jackass over there, with a hilariously insulting off-color comment. The class as a whole burst into laughter at my expense. Later the teacher said I had failed the assignment because it was supposed to be an “actual memory” not a fictitiously fabricated fantasy. She seemed oblivious to the fact that at an elementary age I was not yet capable of creating such a fantastic fictional fabrication with such vividly detailed imagery.
Though faded around the edges by time, my “fictitiously fabricated fantasy” still lingers in the recesses of my mind. And still I ponder- was it a glimpse of before me, which few others ever get to see? Or was it an early indication that I was completely off my rocker from the get go?
About a year ago I came across a statue that had been discarded by the roadside. It was a small cement figure of a naked baby person; its feet had been broken off. I placed the fallen baby-angel gingerly into my truck and took it home. Months later, when we were constructing our roughly hewn fire-pit, there was a large gap at the forefront of the block pit we hadn’t anticipated in our initial layout. It was an oddly shaped space, one that was almost the exact dimensions of my footless figurine.
Thus the stone cherub now stands at the helm of the pit as a reminder of a more innocent memory that no one else remembers. It looks hopefully upward with grey eyes full of wonderment, unseeing because it has seen enough. With its back turned symbolically blind to the world that burns behind it and all the hell and cruelty it holds within. Forever it captures, poses and ponders the question that haunts me- What did I see in that pool that made me want to come here?
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