For the past four weeks I have spent at least six hours a day, remembering my life. Sure, I often reminisce about things I have done, places I have gone and people I have loved, but memories stand for so much more. The past is the foundation of our present. No matter how much I want to convince myself that the past doesn’t exist. It exist in every one of my cells, my behaviours and even my identity. So instead of shunning my past, I took four weeks to appreciate it. To look at my childhood through the eyes of an adult that has been shaped by her life and the world. The result was a wonderful experience.
I discovered that there are many things, that I hardly ever gave any thought to, that did affect me very strongly. Like growing up during the apartheid regime in South Africa. I don’t remember too much of that time, but when I took the time to look at my memories I realised how much unresolved emotion I still carried with me from my experiences. A memory can be like an unused room in your house. It can get dusty and the energy can become stagnant, but if you are brave enough to venture into it then you can dust the cobwebs away, open some windows and let fresh air in. And what do you gain? An extra room and more space in your heart. Memoir is like spring cleaning your life.
I ventured into the years that I spent growing up on a game reserve in South Africa. The wonderful freedom I had as a child and how privileged I was to grow up so close to nature and what I perceived as God. Every day I had the opportunity to witness life even if that sometimes meant through the death of a beloved pet. I experienced adventure. When I took the time to collect my memories they became like a necklace made up of precious artifacts that I can now proudly wear.
Through my Memoir class I discovered wonderful authors such as Marjane Satrapi and Jill Ker Conway. Jill wrote about her childhood growing up in the outback of Australia and then some years later about when she left her country and moved to the United States to study history at Harvard. In Inventing The Truth she talks about how important it is to examine your life and to make sure that the plot is the one you really want. She talks about how important it is to not be sentimental, especially as a woman, but to take charge of your life.
I also discovered the wonderful book Old Friend from Far Away, that helps you to provoke memories. One prompt was, “Write everything you know about Ice Cream. Ten minutes. Go!” Who would have known what a massive role Ice Cream played in my life.
Thank you Nynke for a wonderful class and thank you to all my classmates, who non judgmentally allowed me to share my life, even when the words were clunky or came with tears.
Love, Peace & Play