Unrestrained Innocence


First posted on August 27, 2013

When we are children we seldom think of the future.
This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can.
The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.
Patrick Rothfuss

Before there was maturity, adult ways, sexual attraction and worries of the world the uncorrupted simplicity of childhood filled me. A good while prior to “liking” a girl, studying for tests, giving book reports or choosing sides on the playground was the beautiful naivety of a child.

I am reminded of myself long ago by stories I am told by my best friend about one specific grandchild. This young man daily exhibits the unrestrained innocence of the first few years of life better than most. One particular habit of his is laughing fits before bed, brought on especially when he is tired. Over time it’s been noted when a strong laughter episode overtakes him before bed he sleeps even better than usual. I suspect the world would be a better place if all of us had a genuine laughing fit before nodding off each night.

Clearly I recall how ‘grown up’ and happy I was to take breakfast to my father. I was four years old. My Dad, Mom, little Brother and I lived in the country where my parents operated a small store and gas station. The little two room house where we lived was down a dirt road about a hundred yards away. That day I had the honor of walking breakfast over to my Father who opened the grocery very early each morning.

In a small box with the sides cut down to about four inches high my Mother had placed a plate with aluminum foil covering scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. Black coffee was in a pint canning jar. I was told to be very careful and walk slow. That’s exactly what I did and felt so very proud to be trusted with such an honor as taking my Dad his breakfast. Carrying the box hid the immediate view in front of me and I stubbed my toe badly. I dropped the box and the coffee jar broke. I was so disappointed and humiliated plus my toe was hurt and bleeding.

The breakfast was held on the plate by the foil and that is all I arrived with to give my Father through my tears. No one got on to me. I was not in trouble. I was only disappointed with myself. It was the first of such a feeling I can remember and a little of my innocence was lost that day.

I am grateful to remember…

I miss so much the person
that I was before the world
tore me up in so many places.
C. Joybell C.

Right In Front of My Nose

hearth stones

My wishes for us all in this New Year were found right in front of my nose  on my fireplace hearth:

“Peace Stone” – A gift from a friend who had many times heard my answer to the question, “What do you wish for most?”.

“Hope Stone” – Given to me when I was going through a very difficult time by a loved one. The present helped a lot.

“God Is Love” – From a recovery friend who inscribed the stone and gifted it to me on one of my anniversaries in Codependents Anonymous. He remembered me sharing how this phrase got me through an extraordinarily tough time.

Heart votive candle holder – Found at an estate sale and a reminder to keep my heart stronger that my thoughts.

Dark round rock – Memento from an inspiring and life altering sabbatical.

White rock – From the mountains of Alabama where I grew up. A reminder of my humble roots and to not “get too big for my britches” as was often said to me growing up.

I wish you peace and hope with the memory that God is love. May you hold memories strong in your heart of the joy and happiness you have felt and the pain and grief that taught you. And may you never forget where you came from.

It’s being here now that’s important.
There’s no past and there’s no future.
Time is a very misleading thing.
All there is ever, is the now.
We can gain experience from the past,
but we can’t relive it;
and we can hope for the future,
but we don’t know if there is one.
George Harrison

Dance in the Moonlight

dance in moonlight

I dance in the moonlight and your ghost in my arms dreaming of what might have been.

I hope that life has been kind to you and that I am not forgotten.

I send warm breezes to kiss your lips that I cannot reach and I envy them.

Time and space has taken their toll, but the memory of you and our lost love lives in the secret places of my heart.

We cannot know what the fates have in store for us as the future has yet to be written.
I wonder, will the paths we choose bring us back to each other or further apart on divergent paths, never to meet again in this life.

I only know that my memories of you warm me like a soft blanket against winters cold grip, comforting me when I feel I can no longer stand strong against the hardness of life.

We will not waste our precious time on ‘what ifs’ but yet in fleeting moments they invade my thoughts without invitation and that is when I dance in the moonlight with your ghost in my arms.

A poem titled “Ghosts” by Sherry Potter


my-window-night-rain-c2fb9be2-177a-40c3-8af6-fb082d1f8731Faded photographs
Covered now with lines and creases;
Tickets torn in half
Memories in bits and pieces;
Traces of love long ago
That didn’t work out right;
Traces of love with me tonight.

“Our time” will always be remembered with great reverence. I’ll cherish your expressions of love forever. Your gifts will be treasures that grow perpetually in value. I’ll never stop holding on to “us”.

Did you know I once saved strands of your hair? And then there’s the music I’ll never be able to listen to without memories of you filling my mind while love surges in my heart.

I have felt love for others, but paltry compared to what I felt/feel for you. Amore never blazed so brightly as it did in our embrace. The flame of our great love remains safe within. Curse or blessing, it always will.

Maybe our love was too much for two people to successfully bear.

Maybe we were too different in spite of all we had in common.

Maybe we were not supposed to find our way together.

Maybe we found each other at the wrong time.

Long ago I spent so much time being lost and searching; confused and uncertain of myself. Only when the damage seemed irreparable did I realize the destination my heart wanted and needed had moved out of reach. But that’s okay. the beauty of the lesson remains.

Thank you for loving me. Please keep the memory of our once upon a time love safely tucked away. What’s in my heart for you will always be there in a space reserved for you. Loving you so many years back was one of the lasting lessons that taught me how to love. Thank you.

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.
Edna St. Vincent Millay

My Close Relationship with Melody and Rhythm

-------------------040ede0eFrom the time I can remember, music has been around me. My young parents were music fans who had a radio on most of the time. My youngest formative years were spent with Elvis, Hank Sr. and Patsy Cline.

By grammar school it was “Top 40” of the 60’s that was a soundtrack for my life. Today to sort out roughly what year a song came out all I have to do is think about what memories the tune brings up. From what I recall I can tell you where I lived and what was going on with me around the time the song was a big hit.

Lacking good examples of healthy emotions from my family of origin, many of my deepest feelings were developed through music. Every meaningful relationship I have ever had is associated musically in my memory.

During my brooding late teens/early twenties of the 70’s, lyrics like James Taylor’s influenced me (I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend…).

Early memories of falling in love are associated with songs like Chicago’s “Beginnings” (When I’m with you, it doesn’t matter where we are, or what we’re doing. I’m with you, that’s all that matters…)

By the 80’s such feelings were better described by George Michael (If you are the desert, I’ll be the sea, If you ever hunger, hunger for me, whatever you ask for that’s what I’ll be…)

REM spoke about the type confusion I felt in the 90’s when success turned out to be mostly an empty achievement (That’s me in the corner, That’s me in the spotlight, Losing my religion…). Collective Soul’s “Shine” was another song for my quandaries then (Teach me how to speak, Teach me how to share, Teach me where to go, Tell me love will be there…).

In more recent times lyrics like Ha ha ha, bless your soul, You really think you’re in control? Well, I think you’re crazy… from Knarles Barkley or Confusion never stops, Closing walls and ticking clocks from Coldplay suggested change. Forgiveness and renewal had begun within me when Linkin Park’s words hit home (For what I’ve done, I start again, And whatever pain may come, Today this ends, I’m forgiving what I’ve done…).

Music exists in every culture, and infants have excellent musical abilities that cannot be explained by learning. Mothers everywhere sing to their infants because babies understand it. …certain cells in the right hemisphere respond more to melody than to language. Evidence suggests that long-term musical involvement reaps cognitive rewards–in language skills, reasoning and creativity–and boosts social adjustment. Music exercises the brain. Norman M. Weinberger

There is equipment that plays music in just about every room in my home. I can’t imagine life without it. Music has been companion, solace, teacher, compatriot, consoler and more. Whether they bring up a happy thought, a sad memory, a painful recollection or a delightful remembrance I am profoundly grateful for my close relationship with melody and rhythm. Music has been a friend that has never forsaken me.

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words
and that which cannot remain silent.
Victor Hugo

Reminiscence Bump


I remember days when I was fifteen or sixteen years old that occupy more memory space than some entire years of my adult life. There are teenage first experiences that I recall as vividly as if they happened two days ago, especially those I cherish most or regret a lot. I remember clearly my unaccompanied first airplane flight, making out with a girl all night long with our clothes on, the initial time I had my heart-broken and the earliest heart I hurt. The interior of my first car is memorized even today.

As we grow older, we tend to feel like the previous decade elapsed more rapidly, while the earlier decades of our lives seem to have lasted longer. Similarly, we tend to think of events that took place in the past 10 years as having happened more recently than they actually did.

… curiously, we are most likely to vividly remember experiences we had between the ages of 15 and 25. What the social sciences might simply call “nostalgia” psychologists have termed the “reminiscence bump”… The reminiscence bump involves not only the recall of incidents; we even remember more scenes from the films we saw and the books we read in our late teens and early twenties. … The bump can be broken down even further — the big news events that we remember best tend to have happened earlier in the bump, while our most memorable personal experiences are in the second half.

The key to the reminiscence bump is novelty. The reason we remember our youth so well is that it is a period where we have more new experiences than in our thirties or forties. It’s a time for firsts — first sexual relationships, first jobs, first travel without parents, first experience of living away from home, the first time we get much real choice over the way we spend our days. Novelty has such a strong impact on memory that even within the bump we remember more from the start of each new experience.

Most fascinating of all, however, is the reason the “reminiscence bump” happens in the first place: Hammond argues that because memory and identity are so closely intertwined, it is in those formative years, when we’re constructing our identity and finding our place in the world, that our memory latches onto particularly vivid details in order to use them later in reinforcing that identity. Interestingly, Hammond points out, people who undergo a major transformation of identity later in life — say, changing careers or coming out — tend to experience a second identity bump, which helps them reconcile and consolidate their new identity. From “Why Time Slows Down When We’re Afraid, Speeds Up as We Age, and Gets Warped on Vacation” by Maria Popova http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/07/15/time-warped-claudia-hammond/

Memory is a tricky thing. I have realized over time I tend to unconsciously make adjustments to what I recall. Memories that come to mind most become the most indelibly stamped on my brain. My greatest joys are made grander and the most painful memories are mentally sculpted to be more distressing. The primitive part of my mind dedicated to survival makes an over-sized issue of the latter. I am grateful to be reminded that pain tries to remembered far more than joy. In making my way forward it’s important tto reverse that tendency as much as I can; focus on the joyful memories and think less about the painful ones.

I don’t want to repeat my innocence.
I want the pleasure of losing it again.
From “This Side of Paradise”
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Pieces of the Past

how soon our time is gone

For the most part I am a strong man. I can keep going through just about anything, but just because I don’t stop does not mean I am not in pain. Many people mistake that ability to keep moving forward as some sort of gift when it’s only a survival skill I learned long ago.

Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is… The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds. Dan Millman

About many hurts of the past I am able to let go (mostly anyway) by continuing to move forward and not allowing that pain to drag me down. Then there are those slivers of grief and sadness I don’t let go of. The majority are related to women I have loved and better said, those I have never completely let go of and still carry a flame for. James Frey wrote, “The wounds that never heal can only be mourned alone.” How true!

There are songs that come on the radio that cause me to change station within a few seconds. The words pull me back to another time.

On other occasions it is places that bring up old hurts. A ‘favorite’ restaurant can do it (so I don’t eat there any more).

Driving down a particular road can take me back (so I avoid going that way).

Overhearing a casual conversation of a couple obviously in love can make me start to pine momentarily for what once was or what I hoped would be that never came.

While I know movies are not real life, there are certain ones that come close to my experiences and can wake up my sleeping past. For some reason, I will still watch such a movie to remember (must be a masochist streak in me).

“We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full” was Marcel Proust’s take on hanging on to the past. Maybe I have not grieved enough over some of the past. However, as I type those words I suddenly realize those little pains are still alive in me because I hang on to them intentionally like a cherished gift. Without a doubt some of my grasp on pieces of the past is because I don’t want to let go. It’s as if ‘what was’ is still alive in some small way as long as I hold on.

Maybe I need to adopt Rachel Naomi Remen’s attitude, “Perhaps wisdom is simply a matter of waiting, and healing a question of time. And anything good you’ve ever been given is yours forever”.  Seems given time there may yet be a way for me to keep a few memories without them hurting me.  I am grateful for all that I have experienced; for each happening that helped to shape me into the person I am today.

Scars are but evidence of life…
Evidence of choices to be learned from…
evidence of wounds…
wounds inflicted of mistakes…
wounds we choose to allow the healing of.
We likewise choose to see them,
that we may not make the same mistakes again.
Marcia Lynn McClure

Quit Thinking About It…

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The advantage of a bad memory
is that one enjoys several times
the same good things for the first time.
Friedrich Nietzsche

In my 20’s and 30’s the cover phrase for forgetfulness was “I must be getting old”. By the 40’s and 50’s the rationale had morphed into “must have had a senior moment”. Now almost out of the latter age decade I notice memory lapses on a regular basis. So far my forgetting is nothing to get worried about. However, there are the pesky things like names and titles on the tip of my tongue that I can’t sometimes conjure up at will. With those come the overused statements “quit thinking about it and it will come to you” or “you’ll think of it at 3 o’clock in the morning”. Both have an element of truth.

…I began to study and categorize midlife mental lapses as if they were so many butterflies. There was Colliding-Planets Syndrome, which occurs when you fail to grasp, until too late, that you’ve scheduled a child’s orthodontist appointment in the suburbs for the same hour as a business meeting in the city. Quick-Who-Is-She Dysfunction surfaces when you are face-to-face with someone whose name stubbornly refuses to come to mind. What-Am-I-Doing-Here Paranoia leaves you standing empty-handed in a doorway, trying to figure out what you’ve come for. The Damn-It-They-Were-Just-in-My-Hand Affliction leads to panicky moments spent looking for your favorite new sunglasses, when all the while they’re on top of your head. And Wrong-Vessel Disorder results in placing the ice cream in the pantry rather than the freezer. Cathryn Jakobson Ramin http://www.oprah.com/health/Midlife-Memory-Loss-How-to-Remember-More

First hand experience is mine with all five of those somewhat whimsical names Ms. Ramin calls types of forgetfulness. I have stood a friend up for lunch, called an acquaintance by the wrong name, gone to the kitchen and found I did not know why, gone looking for my glasses only to discover I was wearing them and put ice cream in the fridge instead of the freezer. But then hasn’t everyone? If you’re middle aged or more, I can’t imagine the answer is anything except “yes”.

A momentary loss of memory is most probably not a sign of Alzheimer’s, or if so it’s a very distant one. People between 65 and 75 face only a 4% chance of suffering from that sad, destructive disease, vs. a frightening 50% chance for those over 85 (see Alzheimer’s box). Yet almost all of us will be tripped up by forgetfulness from time to time as we age. Memory may begin to get a little shaky even in our late 30s, but the decline is so gradual that we don’t start to stumble until we’re 50ish. Therese Eiben, Fortune Magazine

Now having done a good bit of research I feel better and am grateful for my good health and relatively reliable memory. If my habit of “I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember it.” can be broken everything will be just fine.

Right now I’m having amnesia
and déjà vu at the same time.
I think I’ve forgotten this before.
Steven Wright

Great Wealth of Life

daffodil-bill-wakeleyGrab  your imagination hat and put on your best fantasy shoes.
Dress up in daydreams and set your mind on make-believe.
Then come along with me in a delicate journey of words arranged to inspire.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
“I, Wander’d Lonely as a Cloud”
by William Wordsworth

memories dock EDITOld favorite memories are treasures carried invisibly inside. There is no one who has the same ones stored away as I do. My memories are mine and mine alone to keep as long as my mind works enough to recall them. The dearest ones don’t fade. Those memories grow more vivid over time, embellished perhaps, but more beautiful just the same.

Just as Wordsworth later remembered seeing “ten thousand daffodils” by a lake when he laid on his couch and daydreamed, I have my own cherished reminiscences. Memories are the great wealth of life. To realize that while I am not too old to remember them is something to be grateful for!

If you have true gratitude,
it will express itself automatically.
It will be visible in your eyes,
around your being, in your aura.
It is like the fragrance of a flower.
In most cases if there is a beautiful flower,
the fragrance will be there naturally.
The flower and its fragrance cannot be separated.
Sri Chinmoy