Thursday, 13 August 2015

From the Archives

Do you ever have moments where a person comes into your head unannounced and unexpected? A rude awakening from whatever you were doing– reading, washing dishes, bravely singing along to a favourite song on the radio– when you find your unintended focus interrupted.
Suddenly there's a jolt, a lightning bolt that brings a remnant of the past whirling in like a gale-force wind. A door blown open. It might be a decreased relative, an ex-partner, an old friend you lost contact with, a fleeting acquaintance that you used to bump into on rare occasions, or someone you never met or spoke in person to, your relationship conducted through another medium. It's always a person that once meant something to you although you or they may not have realised it at the time and possibly still don't. The significance of your meeting, even the merest of brushes, if it came, came much later; or sometimes it doesn't occur until that momentary flash of recognition. Before your portrait was taken without your consent and as if by an early photographer you hadn't given that person a thought. They were forgotten about, consigned to one of those things. Something you may have had a hand in or may not as they gradually faded or were mercilessly swept away. But who in their rational mind wishes to dwell on such happenings?
The five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch – don't seem to want to very much. They have to be distracted, otherwise occupied, engaged in a task for a sixth sense to slip stealthily in like an opportunistic burglar or a prowling black cat. Then WHAM! you're either hit on the back of the head or there's the sound of a loud CRASH! from a distant room; sometimes if you're lucky the realisation will be gentle like a cat purring and rubbing against the back of your calves, but either way your attention has been sought.
What happens next depends on the individual – the victim if we're still using the analogy of the burglar although I think in time you'll find you're more of a willing accomplice – as the experience varies wildly. But what I will say is that the outcome is always the same: a memory once made, however ingrained or fleeting, is returned, often just for an instant, although the affects can be long-lasting.
And sometimes these impressions are dredged from murky depths so that they surprise even you, the one who created them. You don't remember consciously storing these details away but you must have done for now they stare you, sometimes superimposed, sometimes under or overexposed, in the face. Regardless of whether they're sharp, intangible or cloudy you wonder why: why have they been called to the surface now? Is it purely nostalgia or a fact or feature you didn't understand or see? Is there something to be gained from spontaneous recall?
If something stays with you, it's like a fissure: it widens as you probe around, for as humans we do not always know when it's best to leave things. We think there's a puzzle to be solved when often the remembrance is only meant to be pleasurable. Details we may have previously missed may not require investigation but instead desire acceptance. They might provide an insight into a deeper layer that at the time we couldn't perceive because we were too close to either the set of circumstances or the person it concerned. As galling as it is when you're immersed in a situation and want resolutions or answers, the bigger picture cannot be seen until those intense emotions have passed. You can weep or rage all you like, but sometimes you're meant to be blind to the consequences of yours or others actions.
Becoming wise to certain facts, be it a new slant to a person's character or reaching an understanding of what at that stage seemed rash in their words or actions, may not be in your best interests until after the conflict has died, gone away. Indeed, you may reel from this information when it's revealed after a lapse, but your reflections may be kinder.

Picture Credit: P R Francis in the Colour Lab, Camera Press