Passing Thoughts

Passing Thoughts

Lingering, flitting, wispy, clear –
thoughts passing through me today:
Aunt Junie’s laugh filled my mental ears
and my heart filled with love when I
remembered her support through the dark years;
Then my thoughts turned to a man
I once thought a terrible trial  –
I saw him last week as I sat in the bank
and he came up to me and smiled
and I smiled back and we
made small talk for awhile, 
and I felt nothing – not anger, nor tension –
and I was kind of surprised by that.
I guess Life has moved me past
the past, and the love has stayed,
but the bad didn’t last.

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

 

When the Future Enters the Past

Sitting in the shade of
my parents’ dogwood trees
I go back in time thirty years –
and remember sitting
under these same trees
with a glass of lemonade
and Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave.
And now I’m there again –
in the body of the me I was –
young and with my whole future
ahead of me –
unaware of what waits
for me in the years ahead.
I look to the left
and two young men enter the scene,
laughing, and tossing a football
back and forth between them –
and I recognize my grown sons – my future
has entered my past.

Cosmic!

I accidentally snapped this picture as I was bringing my camera around.

accidental picture of dogwood trees by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Memories from Lincoln City, Oregon

(originally posted in 2013)

The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. – Robert Ingersoll, The Great Agnostic

Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and dreams of Time. –  H.P. Lovecraft

I think it would be interesting if old people got anti-Alzheimer’s disease where they slowly began to recover other peoples’ memories. – George Carlin

My husband and I just returned from our most recent trip to Lincoln City, Oregon. We’ve been going there since 1984 – when we discovered the magic of Lincoln City  on our honeymoon.  We were trying to figure out how many times we’ve been there in the last 29 years, and we figured we’ve made a pilgrimage to Lincoln City probably 27 times – every year, with one or two exceptions.

You know how photographers do time lapse photography to show Nature unfolding in quick time? Yeah, I’m thinking if we took the days my family has spent in Lincoln City and sort of condensed them into a time lapse photography kind of deal, we’d see something like this…

There we are in 1984 – young, confident, and hopeful – starting our life together – unaware of the challenges ahead, and unaware of the blessings, either – running on the beach – limbs strong and quick and joints well-oiled. My aunt Junie showed me the art of agate-hunting when I was a youngster, and now I’m teaching my new husband how to pick up the glow of an agate on the beach – how to discern the difference between a bona fide agate and a rough piece of quartz…

1992:  Introducing our firstborn to the ocean for the first time. His baby body rests on my knee, facing out to the sea. His eyes have locked onto the ocean and taken note of it – he’s chewing his lower lip, eyes moving back and forth along the sea’s horizon, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. It’s becoming a part of him.

1994: We have come to Lincoln City as parents of childREN. We are old hands at parenthood now. Today it is our youngest son’s turn to meet the ocean. We take off his booties and lower his toes into the water. It is a sort of ritual baptism of baby feet – a bonding with the Pacific.

1999: The sons are playing with the surf – letting the waves chase them up the beach. The ocean is their comfortable old friend now.

Jump to April, 2008: I am in crisis.   Struggling with severe depression. I am desperate to escape from myself and my constantly-churning thoughts. Oldest son knows I need to get away and asks me if I’d like him to go to Lincoln City with me for Spring Break. How many 16 year-old sons do you know who’d be willing to accompany their moms on a 14-hour (round trip) road trip? I am blest beyond words. On the way to Lincoln City we stop and visit my Aunt Junie, who shares our kinship with the ocean and lives in Depoe Bay, an hour north of Lincoln City.  I confide my struggles to Junie, and the feelings of guilt and unworthiness that seem to be a symptom of my illness. Junie is appalled at my feelings of worthlessness. “All her instincts” tell her that I am a good person, she says.  “There are no unrightable wrongs, no unforgiveable sins, no fatal mistakes, no fatal diseases, only the eternal now.” She is like Yoda.

July, 2008: Still struggling with the  depression. Lincoln City is my respite. I sit on the balcony in the sun and look down on the beach and watch the sons running and cavorting on the sand below.  There have been times lately when I’ve wished myself not born. But, watching my sons, it hits me that if I hadn’t been born, they wouldn’t have been born, either. They give me purpose. And the ocean gives me comfort. We stop in Tilamook on the way home and I am drawn to a garden plaque that quotes The Great Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll: “The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here.” On impulse, I buy it. It will sit in a place of honor on our mantel when we return home.

2009:  The family meets on the Oregon coast to celebrate Aunt Junie’s life, and spread her ashes on the ocean.  We will not get as far as Lincoln City this time, but the ocean that she is now a part of will touch the beaches that have provided such solace to me over the years.  And every time I’m near the ocean, I’ll think of Junie – her humor and wisdom and kindness to me.

2010:  Hoping, but not with high expectations, I ask my youngest son, who’s just turned 16, if he’d like to make the same road trip that I made with his older brother two years ago. To my surprise and delight, he says he would! We spend two days at the ocean – flying a kite, looking for agates, running (well, okay, he’s doing most of the running now) along the beach.  Before we leave on our trip I ask Xander if he’s remembered his swimsuit, long pants, shorts, sweatshirt, sneakers, toothbrush, and sandals. He assures me he has. When we arrive at Lincoln City, I realize that am the one who’s left her clothes, laptop, and toothbrush back home. It is all very humbling. But there’s a certain freedom in the forgetting, too. I’m scraped down to the bare essentials. Having no laptop is a good thing.  I have become big into photography in the last couple years, and I have, at least, remembered my camera. Camera, son, ocean, and the clothes on my back – what else does a person really need? 🙂

2013: The sons are all grown-up now. They have jobs and things to do.  For the first time since we became parents, we will be making our Lincoln City pilgrimage alone.  We eat at our favorite eatery there – The Lighthouse Brew Pub – take long walks together, hunt for agates, and remember together who we were when we first found Lincoln City.  Young, strong, confident, hopeful. Our lives stretched out ahead of us.  And we think about all that’s happened in the 29 years since. And it’s all been good. All of it. Even the bad stuff has been good, really. Just like those blossoms unfolding in time lapse photography – our life together has unfolded most wonderfully.

Our Memory

If delusion says, “I have lost my memory,” contradict it. No faculty of Mind is lost. – Mary Baker Eddy

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits… Psalm 103: 2

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered:
the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. – Psalms 111: 4

Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not… Proverbs 4: 5

***

Through the years there’ve been several fictional films that have tackled the subject of false memory – The Manchurian Candidate, Total Recall, and The Bourne Ultimatum come to mind.  But this week I freaked out a little when a friend posted an article on Facebook that reported researchers had, in fact, discovered a way to implant false memories in mice: “Memory researchers from U.S. and Japan have, for the first time, implanted false memories into a lab animal… It’s already clear that people are able to form false memories. Think about that family tale about your getting sick at Disneyland—the one that’s been told so often, you’ve felt yourself ‘remember’ the event more and more over the years, even though you were way too young to truly recall it. Or, more seriously, think about how often eyewitness testimony fails, convicting people who are later exonerated through DNA testing… The team also performed further experiments that showed that the formation of true and false memories both set off a series of molecular changes in the brain that are very similar. So false memories may feel indistinguishable from real ones.” – http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-07/researchers-successfully-implant-mice-false-memories?src=SOC&dom=fb

The story gave a link to another story – this one titled Why Science Tells Us Not to Trust Eyewitness Accounts:”Many people believe that human memory works like a video recorder: the mind records events and then, on cue, plays back an exact replica of them. On the contrary, psychologists have found that memories are reconstructed rather than played back each time we recall them. The act of remembering, says eminent memory researcher and psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, is ‘more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.” Even questioning by a lawyer can alter the witness’s testimony because fragments of the memory may unknowingly be combined with information provided by the questioner, leading to inaccurate recall.'”  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-the-eyes-have-it

Yeah. Soooo….

How can we trust that what we think we remember actually happened? How can we protect ourselves from false memories? Contrariwise, how can we make our true memories – the memories that we cherish, or that have helped us learn important lessons – safe from tampering or disease? And how do we distinguish the false memories from the true ones?

Were you expecting answers here? 🙂

Nah. I’m just trying to figure it all out, too. But I guess I could share some thoughts I’ve had about it all…

As a history major, it’s always struck me as interesting how people can look at the exact same events and see them in such completely different ways. If you read a school textbook about American history written in, say, 1955, for instance, it seems to tell a completely different story than a textbook written about American history in 1985. And I find it interesting – and personally disturbing – that some events – The Holocaust, for example – are discounted, by some individuals, as never having happened at all. It seems important to me that we remember The Holocaust – the lessons learned from it, and the heroism of those who experienced it, and those who helped others survive it.

One of my favorite books is a book called The Giver, written by Lois Lowery. In the book one boy, Jonas, is chosen to hold the collective memories of his community so that the other members of his community don’t need to be burdened by them. This really stinks for Jonas, and for his community, too. To have shared memories – of both painful times and good times – is comforting, I think. It helps us know we’re not alone and isolated from one another, but connected in our common humanity.

We build our communities, and our own lives, on our memories – learning from our mistakes, remembering and celebrating all the good, keeping loved ones who’ve left us alive in our thoughts.

But what if a memory is holding us back – keeping us from loving, from forgiving, and from moving forward in our lives? That can’t be a good thing, right? Maybe there are times when forgetting is actually a part of the healing? Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, tells us several times in her writings to “forgive and forget”  and Paul writes in Philippians 3: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s words make sense to me. There have been times in my life when a painful experience was so completely healed in my thought it was as if it never happened, and I’ve so completely forgotten it that I was surprised, later, to be reminded of it. One example of this is when my mom called to tell me that the mother of a third grade classmate had called to apologize for blaming me for things I’d never done. She was weepy as she told Mom, “Karen never did anything wrong. She always treated my daughter with kindness. I’m sorry that I was so mean to her.” What this woman was referring to was something that had happened 30 years before! I had completely forgotten about it. I was glad to hear that she and her daughter were doing well. Whatever lessons they’d needed to learn from that experience, they apparently had learned. Now they could forget all about it, too, and move on.

But to get back to the article on mice at the top of the page: What if the painful memory we have is a false memory to begin with – a memory implanted by scientific researchers or a hypnotist or that we’ve unknowingly created ourselves –  how do we discern that it’s false and jettison it? Speaking from personal experience, I’ve sometimes only discovered I was carrying around a false memory after a professor’s given a test and I gave the wrong answer, or after others showed me evidence – notes, letters, videoclips – that proved to me my memories were wrong. It’s always kind of an interesting moment when I realize I was carrying around a false memory. “Whoah! Look at that! I had no idea!”  And it’s always a relief. I can correct my thought then and move on.

Maybe, in the end, the only memories that are important to us are the ones that lead us to self-correction and reformation – and the memories that bring us closer to Love.

God is the only Mind. Our Mind is God. And we’re never for a moment, separated from Mind. That’s kind of reassuring, isn’t it? I mean… we can’t lose our Mind because where would it go? Mind is everywhere, fills all space, and we dwell in the consciousness of Mind. All we can know is what God, Truth, knows. All we can feel is what God, Love, feels. All we can be is God’s expression, manifestation, and reflection. There’s no part of us that can hold false memories, for all we can know is the perfect truth of perfect Mind.

“…you consult your brain in order to remember what has hurt you, when your remedy lies in forgetting the whole thing; for matter has no sensation of its own, and the human mind is all that can produce pain. As a man thinketh, so is he. Mind is all that feels, acts, or impedes action.” – Mary Baker Eddy

“…you will discover the material origin, growth, maturity, and death of sinners, as the history of man, disappears, and the everlasting facts of being appear, wherein man is the reflection of immutable good.” – Mary Baker Eddy

“When we learn that error is not real, we shall be ready for progress, ‘forgetting those things which are behind.'” – Mary Baker Eddy

“Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more”. – Isaiah 54: 4

Lincoln City, Oregon: 1984-2013

The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. – Robert Ingersoll, The Great Agnostic

Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and dreams of Time. –  H.P. Lovecraft

I think it would be interesting if old people got anti-Alzheimer’s disease where they slowly began to recover other peoples’ memories. – George Carlin

My husband and I just returned from our most recent trip to Lincoln City, Oregon. We’ve been going there since 1984 – when we discovered the magic of Lincoln City  on our honeymoon.  We were trying to figure out how many times we’ve been there in the last 29 years, and we figured we’ve made a pilgrimage to Lincoln City probably 27 times – every year, with one or two exceptions.

You know how photographers do time lapse photography to show Nature unfolding in quick time? Yeah, I’m thinking if we took the days my family has spent in Lincoln City and sort of condensed them into a time lapse photography kind of deal, we’d see something like this…

There we are in 1984 – young, confident, and hopeful – starting our life together – unaware of the challenges ahead, and unaware of the blessings, either – running on the beach – limbs strong and quick and joints well-oiled. My aunt Junie showed me the art of agate-hunting when I was a youngster, and now I’m teaching my new husband how to pick up the glow of an agate on the beach – how to discern the difference between a bona fide agate and a rough piece of quartz…

1992:  Introducing our firstborn to the ocean for the first time. His baby body rests on my knee, facing out to the sea. His eyes have locked onto the ocean and taken note of it – he’s chewing his lower lip, eyes moving back and forth along the sea’s horizon, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. It’s becoming a part of him.

1994: We have come to Lincoln City as parents of childREN. We are old hands at parenthood now. Today it is our youngest son’s turn to meet the ocean. We take off his booties and lower his toes into the water. It is a sort of ritual baptism of baby feet – a bonding with the Pacific.

1999: The sons are playing with the surf – letting the waves chase them up the beach. The ocean is their comfortable old friend now.

Jump to April, 2008: I am in crisis.   Struggling with severe depression. I am desperate to escape from myself and my constantly-churning thoughts. Oldest son knows I need to get away and asks me if I’d like him to go to Lincoln City with me for Spring Break. How many 16 year-old sons do you know who’d be willing to accompany their moms on a 14-hour (round trip) road trip? I am blest beyond words. On the way to Lincoln City we stop and visit my Aunt Junie, who shares our kinship with the ocean and lives in Depoe Bay, an hour north of Lincoln City.  I confide my struggles to Junie, and the feelings of guilt and unworthiness that seem to be a symptom of my illness. Junie is appalled at my feelings of worthlessness. “All her instincts” tell her that I am a good person, she says.  “There are no unrightable wrongs, no unforgiveable sins, no fatal mistakes, no fatal diseases, only the eternal now.” She is like Yoda.

July, 2008: Still struggling with the  depression. Lincoln City is my respite. I sit on the balcony in the sun and look down on the beach and watch the sons running and cavorting on the sand below.  There have been times lately when I’ve wished myself not born. But, watching my sons, it hits me that if I hadn’t been born, they wouldn’t have been born, either. They give me purpose. And the ocean gives me comfort. We stop in Tilamook on the way home and I am drawn to a garden plaque that quotes The Great Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll: “The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here.” On impulse, I buy it. It will sit in a place of honor on our mantel when we return home.

2009:  The family meets on the Oregon coast to celebrate Aunt Junie’s life, and spread her ashes on the ocean.  We will not get as far as Lincoln City this time, but the ocean that she is now a part of will touch the beaches that have provided such solace to me over the years.  And every time I’m near the ocean, I’ll think of Junie – her humor and wisdom and kindness to me.

2010:  Hoping, but not with high expectations, I ask my youngest son, who’s just turned 16, if he’d like to make the same road trip that I made with his older brother two years ago. To my surprise and delight, he says he would! We spend two days at the ocean – flying a kite, looking for agates, running (well, okay, he’s doing most of the running now) along the beach.  Before we leave on our trip I ask Xander if he’s remembered his swimsuit, long pants, shorts, sweatshirt, sneakers, toothbrush, and sandals. He assures me he has. When we arrive at Lincoln City, I realize that am the one who’s left her clothes, laptop, and toothbrush back home. It is all very humbling. But there’s a certain freedom in the forgetting, too. I’m scraped down to the bare essentials. Having no laptop is a good thing.  I have become big into photography in the last couple years, and I have, at least, remembered my camera. Camera, son, ocean, and the clothes on my back – what else does a person really need? 🙂

2013: The sons are all grown-up now. They have jobs and things to do.  For the first time since we became parents, we will be making our Lincoln City pilgrimage alone.  We eat at our favorite eatery there – The Lighthouse Brew Pub – take long walks together, hunt for agates, and remember together who we were when we first found Lincoln City.  Young, strong, confident, hopeful. Our lives stretched out ahead of us.  And we think about all that’s happened in the 29 years since. And it’s all been good. All of it. Even the bad stuff has been good, really. Just like those blossoms unfolding in time lapse photography – our life together has unfolded most wonderfully.