Tuesday, 7 February 2017

RUEFUL REPOST: 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 somehow 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? 

9 comments:

moonmando said...

Nice nostalgic musings Gordy,sensitively written,although edging somewhat on the melancholic side. The past,I believe never goes away but is resident,and inextricably part of the fabric of who we are. I believe it is these collective experiences we will carry with us as we pass on to our next phase of existence,just as you suggest. I guess that is the hope we all embrace. Nevertheless,the present is now and has to be met head on and perhaps with some gusto of which I know you possess in abundance. So pucker up lad,gird up your loincloth and,'Carpe Diem!'

Kid said...

Seize the day? I can't even seize my shoe laces some days, Moony. However, I know what you're saying and will strive to do as you suggest. I'll have to buy a new loincloth first 'though. And my pucker has turned inside out so isn't much use these days.

Colin Jones said...

"It was almost like returning to the dawn of creation when everything must have seemed magical and mystical" - well, Kid, if by "dawn of creation" you mean the creation of the world then I'm afraid there was nothing magical or mystical about it as the early Earth was a molten ball of rock and iron constantly pounded by asteroids and comets so it was more like a vision of hell than a tranquil walk in the woods. And we can't expect time to stand still - time moves on and old buildings disappear but you can still remember them. I can still clearly recall the rooms and corridors of my primary school even though I haven't been back since the day I left in July 1977, nearly 40 years ago. And I don't believe in any old tosh about moving on to an afterlife - this is the only existence we have so let's live for today !

Kid said...

Actually, CJ, nobody knows what the 'dawn of creation' was like as nobody was there. No witnesses. And most so-called scientific theories don't adequately explain the creation of anything because they don't explain where all those supposed gasses, asteroids, meteors, microbes, etc., came from. There IS one irrefutable scientific fact - nothing can come from nothing. As for whether there's an afterlife, unless you know everything, you can't say there isn't one, because there might be, but you just don't know about it. As energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system, some scientists believe that if a 'soul' is energy, then when the body wears out, it still exists in some form. That's oversimplifying things, but it's something to think about. Is there an afterlife? Again, just like the creation of the universe, nobody on this side of it can really know.

Colin Jones said...

I admit nobody was there to see the "dawn of creation" - do we mean the birth of the universe ? - so you can't say it "must have been magical and mystical". Apparently the universe was created by quantum fluctuations in the energy field - no, I don't know what that means either but it doesn't sound very magical or mystical :D

Kid said...

In actual fact, I didn't say it 'must have been magical and mystical', CJ. What I said was 'it must have seemed magical and mystical', which is a subtle but important distinction. If you confined yourself to what people wrote instead of what you THINK they wrote, you wouldn't paint yourself into these little corners, would you? And, as some people regard 'magic' as another form of science that we just haven't discovered yet, the process you describe might very well be magical or mystical - especially as you admit you don't know what it is.

Colin Jones said...

Bah ! You've outfoxed me again, Kid !!

paul Mcscotty said...

I agree with Moony there Kid very nicely written but a tad melancholy –as I always say there is nothing wrong in looking back with fondness (I do it a lot as well) but be careful not to get stuck there - life is to be lived, not just remembered.


For the " dawn of creation.." refers to the time there were lifeforms on the planet (whether that be sentient or life like plants/ferns ) and is different to what you mean Colin - the Earth was certainly molten ball of Iron and gases etc at the very start of “its” creation, but that wasn’t the stat of "creation" in the sense most people mean it (and Earth may have gone through several creation and extinction periods).

Personally I have no truck with religious writings on the afterlife etc as being the definitive the “truth” (that was written by “man” and there is proof it has been mistranslated and edited to death). Now whether that was based on some “truth/event” in the past who knows and I suppose that is what faith is for some people - but I ’am pretty sure the older I get that there is much more going on in the universe than what we perceive as humans in our daily life. But yeah what Moony says Kid “Carpe Diem!” big time.

I don’t think I was aware that Kenneth Grahame was a Scot (the books feels so “English), gawd were are a talented people! Lol

Kid said...

And I feel so ashamed for doing so, CJ. I'm a cruel b*st*rd!

******

Indeed he was, PM, 'though he moved to England at an early age. He was the youngest ever secretary of the Bank of England (and that 'record' stood for many a year until relatively recently), and only wrote in his spare time. Dream Days and The Golden Age are two of his early works (The Reluctant Dragon is in one of them) and are good reads, but it's probably The Wind In The Willows for which he'll be best remembered.

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