December 12, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Old Memories

When I'm lacking inspiration for this daily column (or any writing), I open all the doors and windows of my mind wide and hope that the breeze blows something in. This morning, while getting ready for my weekend trip to Guadalupe Canyon in Baja, I had some music playing. A line from a cheeseball Night Ranger song drifted into my head and stuck. "No good for an old memory to mean so much today." That's quite a bit of wisdom packed into the lyrics of a 1980s hair band ballad.

I've written about retrospection and nostalgia here before. I'm no stranger to sentimentality, and sometimes pine for days and people long gone. Looking back like this can be especially attractive during hard times. But there's a line that's crossed when one moves beyond looking back on cherished memories and begins living in the past. That's what Night Ranger was talking about. It's "no good." Which I guess means not only that it's not good to do, but also that it's useless, pointless.

For what are we, but the sum total of our life experiences? If we live in the past, we cease to grow, we cease to become. Metaphorically speaking, at least, that's like being undead—neither alive nor dead. And living in old memories is like wandering around a twilit underworld, where the people are shadows and the only colors are shades of gray.

The future, similarly, is a fogbank, impenetrable and colorless, unknowable. But life in the present is a prismatic explosion of experiences to be savored, from the hug of a loved one to the chirp of a bird outside the window. So next time the temptation to immerse yourself in the past arises, walk outside and smell the wet earth after a rainstorm. Run your fingers through the leaves and branches of a tree. Turn your face toward the sun. Good advice that I think I'll take.

The "Daily" Strick will return next week.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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December Columns:

12/31: Happy New Year
12/29: Return of the Oscar King
12/28: The Year in Travel
12/26: Trial by Piranha
12/25: Merry Christmas
12/22: Red Squares
12/21: Havasu Falls
12/20: Last Will & Testament
12/19: Bah Humbug
12/16: Newsworthy
12/15: The "Strick" Dialogues
12/14: Animal-Animal
12/12: Old Memories
12/7: Letters to the Editor
12/5: Greed Strike
12/4: Another Day at the Office
12/3: The "Back" in Quarterback
12/1: Sixty-Four
Previous months in The Archive

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