Friday, 12 September 2014
MEDITATIONS ON BEGINNINGS & ENDINGS...
It may come as no surprise to any of you, but from a very early age I was much given to looking back on the past. My remembered past, obviously, as I wasn't interested in or capable of reminiscing about events which pre-dated either myself or my ability to recall them. When, aged five, I moved from one house to another just a few short minutes away, I made it a point to return to my previous street on a regular basis so that I could re-experience the nearby woods in which I'd once played and again take in the expansive view from the top of the hill.
Over the years (and houses and neighbourhoods), I always found it comforting to return to the places of my youth and reconnect with them from time to time, and for almost the first three decades of my life, most of these hallowed haunts remained essentially unchanged. Each time, the experience was akin to the hushed awe and reverential atmosphere so exquisitely described in The PIPER At The GATES Of DAWN chapter in Scottish author KENNETH GRAHAME's beautiful book, The WIND In The WILLOWS, first published in 1908.
It was almost like returning to the dawn of creation, when everything must have seemed magical and mystical, and from which every living thing derives its strength and power. Revisiting the environs of my early childhood recharged and revitalised me in some way, but it also some- how made events from even only a few years before seem like a far-distant era - at the exact same time as making them, paradoxically, closer than a lover's kiss. I suppose, to a seven year old, three years is more than half one's remembered life, and perhaps half one's life seems just as long or as short at any age. Does that make any sense?
Then things started to change. First it was lampposts being supplanted by newer, thinner models, placed on the inside of the pavements instead of at the kerbs. Then it was the paving stones, replaced with tarmacadam, dark and dismal in the gloom of the night. Next, it was building on fields and green areas, and the removal of swing-parks, resulting in open, spacious, well-planned neighbourhoods being transformed into crowded, claustrophobic, concrete ghettoes.
Earlier this evening I decided to retrace a certain route to my first primary school. Sometimes, as children, we'd take a detour into a swing-park and then through some woods that led to the school. The swing-park is an empty space and the trees were cut down some years ago, the fallen giants now littering the overgrown trail they once used to shade. On previous occasions over the years, visiting the area was like a pleasant journey into yesterday and a salve to my soul. That these places could always be relied upon for the same simple welcome seemed like one of life's unchanging truths, but, alas, that is no longer the case.
I'd always thought that, in my declining years, the locales of my boyhood would still exist and that I'd be able to revisit them one last time, and find solace in the fact that these spots would yet be around for future generations to enjoy similar experiences to my own. I'm now only too well aware that when my final bedtime comes, that, sadly, won't be the case. The only hope left to me is that, should I awaken on 'the other side', I'll find all those familiar places waiting to greet me and welcome me home.
Night has fallen and the daylight seems a long way off. Is that my name I faintly hear, carried on the whisper of the evening breeze?
Posted by Kid at Friday, September 12, 2014