2017 March 11 – Saturday morning
It seems such a cliché to say, but it is true, yes, that sometimes it “seems like yesterday” – yes, any of a million memories – I wonder now if I could actually sit down and set down on paper a million memories, and how would I divide them up into separate quantities? I say I remember our trip from Washington D.C. to San Diego, in February 1977, but is that only one memory? Or more than one? Is not each and every detail I remember, in itself, a separate memory?
Well, I meant simply to say it seems like yesterday, but it was much longer, yes, forty years ago last month.
A million memories. What an extraordinary project! To number and categorize them all! Already I want to split them into boxes, pile them up in orderly, organized, files, yes, piles of files, like that old song from my youth except it was not piles, I think it was miles. And now, to suit our great computer, you’re magnetic ink! Or was that magnetic tape? Oh dear, another memory goes slipping and sliding into changes and subtly transformed words of one or another variety oh yes it does.
A million memories. One of the files which would contain a number of memories, well, I have already mentioned it. The trip from Washington to San Diego in February 1977. Within that one file folder could be counted each and every separate remembrance from the road and perhaps before and after. How we returned all my old library books just as we were driving out of town that morning, the 12th I think it was. Saturday. How the gohonzon, however it is spelled, shifted slightly on the wall when I saw it and realized I had forgotten to pack it. No, it said in my mind, moving slightly in the breeze. But was the window open? That I do not remember. I do remember we were leaving the splendid apartment on 19th street, where we had lived with James.
I remember James. There could be almost a thousand memories, simply about the few years I knew him, there in D.C.
The more I think about it, the more I realize it would be quite possible to tabulate a million memories. If I can imagine a thousand for only one person, whom I only knew, factually, for less than three years, then how many more thousands would I have for someone I have known for many more years than that? My mother, my fathers, my sister and brothers, my son. My friends, one by one by one by one. Cousins. Work partners and associates. Or even people I know about, but don’t know.
Why, there could be a million, merely in the media, all those things I remember but never actually experienced, but which were on TV or radio or movies or books. How many words are there in a single edition of the San Diego Union Tribune? How many days in my life have I at least read a thousand words in one newspaper?
But one word, perhaps, is not the equivalent of one memory. Perhaps it takes more. A complete sentence, at least. But, there I go again, forcing order and categorization upon what is perhaps not a category, not an organized system.
What is a river, flowing, or a creek? What is water? A stream or a collection of drops? What is the air, the breeze, the wind blowing? What is a cloud? How many are there on any one day, filling up the sky, or only scattered puffs of vapor, here, there, one, two, five, eleven, twenty-nine? These organic phenomena have more in common with memory and the brain than with a pile of paper in a file folder, or a neatly organized structure built from bricks or blocks of stone or hammered beams of wood.
There is a difference between the basic, organic reality – except perhaps a river is not organic, but then again, it is a medium of life, yes – and… and… well, there is a difference between the organic, and natural, and a man-made construction, like a wall, or like a page with words upon it.
Language. That is where we make the organic come face to face with the constructed.
Except that the chambered nautilus is organic, and it constructs its own shell, layer by layer, chamber by chamber… oh dear. I am in, deep in, far over my head. Yes.
A million memories.
If I wrote down the verbal details of one memory in a minute, then I could write down 60 x 8 memories in an eight-hour work day.
480 detailed memories. Then, if I did that every day, in one year I would have written down 480 x 365 memories. 175,200 memories.
In six years I would have written down 1,051,200 memories.
If I wrote down one memory per minute for eight hours every day, and did it every day.
So it is possible.
If you want to do it.
If you can STAND to do it.