For a while now I had wanted to give a try to these writing prompts. In the longest day of the year, as the bright sky and the heat insist on not letting me get to sleep, I stop worrying over my morning running plans, and decide that at the very least I can get some writing done in this white night… so I sit at the keyboard and I am asked by this writing prompt a question I cannot answer.
What food brings me back to my childhood? I think and I think and search in my memory…
And I vaguely remember that I recently found these tiny mangoes in the market that definitely made me feel something had been. I could not picture a precise moment, a place, or a person. But the flavour was undoubtedly familiar and stimulating. And yet, no matter how hard I try I cannot find a clear path back to childhood. I even question I had one. There are pictures where I find a glimpse of the person I am today. But there are very little memories. I even have this strange feeling of being certain I had memories that disappeared somewhere, somehow. Only the sensation of having had them is left… such a strange feeling.
The longer I am alive, the harder it is for me to remember not only my childhood self, but also the younger person that came after that. Events like my year living in Poland at age 21 or my wedding day start to feel like products of my imagination. I sometimes find myself in words as I reread diary entries from a few years back. I sometimes get a glimpse into a past experience when in a conversation with my husband or a sibling. But it gets harder and harder to bring back any memories at all. Is this how memory loss beings? Is this a sign of dementia? Or am I missing contact with more people and events that help me remember? Have I practiced so intensely the art of being present that I am forgetting how to remember and how to dream of the future? I no longer do 5 year long plans like I used to. Is there harm in being too much in the present? As I type this, I remember a video I have watched multiple times on how we perceive time. I take a break from this typing, and go search amongst my saved YouTube playlists, since I can no longer remember the title of the video nor the author of its contents. Is that what is happening? Have I unloaded the responsibility of remembering to my digital storage? Am I a victim of the benefits of these practical tools? Also, is that last sentence an oxymoron?
Anyway, back to the keyboard. I rewatched the video and it helped me remember if not a childhood moment, an important practice to bring back to life: I need to rebalance my perception of time. I have been so future-oriented in my previous years that I got too tired and decided to slow down the pace. In that time perspective, I accumulated some socially accepted successes, some of which I am proud of myself. But I got so tired that I just focused on rebalancing into simply living my life day by day. And now it seems that in all this present focus I have been slowly forgetting my past. At the same time, I have also been feeling like I am losing flight. I need to get some wind under my wings and shake off this ennui. I feel the need to learn or experience something in a radical way, and to break from the controlled and incremental approach I have been following recently.
Will I find in that process a little way into my past? Perhaps. I could start by using this upcoming weekend to dust some photo albums. Perhaps ask family for some old stories to help me remember.
There are still the memories of the red hibiscus flowers in the building front yard. Those I remember. And there is the smell of the sweet and fat from the powder milk mixed with brown sugar crystals. Yes, that I am certain is a childhood memory. I just need to push a little harder, into the past and into new challenges.