It’s a quiet Sunday evening, with soft music playing in the background. A perfect time for an early evening siesta. Both Michele and Libi are making good use of the opportunity, as they doze on the living room sofa in the waning light of a cold February evening.
As for me, I have been looking over family photos on my computer and reflecting on the past. Thinking back on when our children were younger. In doing so, I am transported even further back, to when I was a young child growing up in the Caribbean. Quite the juxtaposition between the current -24C windchill being held at bay by questionably thin living room windows and the often remembered 30C romps on the beaches of Jamaica.
It’s all good. Canada has been my home for almost 35 years. It can bend the mind a bit, thinking about all the various life transitions that have transpired since arriving as a gangly 16 year old a whole generation (and a bit) ago. As I think back on growing up on a tropical island, replete with it’s own visceral cultural identity, I am reminded that although I no longer reside there, who I am now has a direct correlation to who I was then. It is more than cultural. It is also geographical, emotional; even spiritual.
I have a certain cousin who still resides in Jamaica, and whenever we are in conversation, he will seize every opportunity and with no small amount of glee, emphasize the (admittedly true) fact, that I now speak with a Canadian accent. At least to him. Those who are Canadian-born may beg to differ. Naturalized Canadians born in Jamaica may go either way. In either case the fabric of Canada is enhanced in my estimation, as I can switch from the not-really-there accent of the Great White North, to the sibilant resonance of Jamaican Patois with the ease of a greased Ninja sliding down a bamboo pole. This is much to the chagrin of my Canadian-born children, who have reminded me on several occasions, that I have been remiss in instructing them in the finer art of Patois-speech. But that is another story for another time.
Moving through early tropical memories is a time filled with fond recollections of family, friends and dare I say, little in the way of responsibility. It is a journey that I have not given myself permission to take for quite some time. Life does tend to get in the way. The thing is, life should pave the way, not be an obstruction. The very things that we experience now, whether good or bad, will be the foundation of our memories when the future and the present meet. Therein lies a key. Are these “the good old days?” I would like to think that these are “the good new days!”
Each day is a gift. I like to say if I am upright and breathing, then things are good. Back in my University flight training days, there were a few times when I landed a plane with a somewhat less than gentle touch. If you had fillings in your teeth, it would have been prudent to have their integrity checked. My accompanying flight instructor at the time, would discreetly check himself for loose molars, but always encouraged me by saying any landing you walk away from is a good landing.
At times there are things that invade our lives that are unavoidable; unfair; painful, joyful; even awe-inspiring. Some things can be quite debilitating, whether physically or emotionally. This then begs us to ask questions about hope; perseverance; discipline. Do we have the fortitude to see life through those times that are less than enjoyable? Do we have the maturity to fully appreciate life when everything is going well?
I at times suffer from a common human condition: Lack-of-Joy-itis. Maybe I should have prefaced some distinctions before I made that statement. The standard dictionary definition of joy is:
To experience great pleasure or delight
I could go further to say that joy can operate irrespective of how I feel. Happy or sad. Wait a minute, how exactly? Isn’t joy the same as happiness? Well if I miss a loved one whether by distance or time, my happiness is diminished, but my delight in them is not. If you have lost a loved one, time does not diminish the depth of love you have for them. Yes, there is pain right alongside the delightful memories. We do not lend ourselves very well to the accommodation of pain, but this is where I believe joy supersedes happiness. Happiness is usually dependent on our emotional state at the time. Joy can be sustaining and transcend how we feel at any given moment.
Memories are important. Sometimes they bring tears; most often times, smiles. Our memories are an integral part of our makeup. If you doubt this, then why do those who suffer amnesia, short or long-term memory loss, experience such intense dislocation, not only from those with whom they have shared their love and life experiences, but with their very own identity?
Your current life events are incubators for the treasured memories that will be available to you, when the future merges with the present.
1 John 1:4: These things are written for you to make your joy full