06 September 2014

Of days gone by and days yet to arrive

There are many ways to trace one’s journey from the point of birth to the point of deliberation, i.e. the ‘now’ of reflection.  You can count your blessings. You can count the times you tripped. You can mark them separately or together on a time line. You can see life as knife-set or tidbits, yearnings or fishnets, what-ifs or so-whats, the love that was lost in loving and the life misplaced by living. Things like that.

And then you can turn around and imagine futures.  The years left can also be segmented, in terms of career path, income level, the changing face of household (babied households, teenaged ones, their youth and your aging, infirmity and dependency and then lapse into the unimaginable incomprehensibilities that only others fall victim to and consequently suffer). 

How do you read the past?  Do you think of the number of years, the number of certificates, the number of residences, number of countries visited, number of people you’ve helped and the ones that helped you, the number of times you felt you ought to have done or said that something which didn’t get done or said at the time?  And the future…will it be chartered in terms of bank-balance extrapolation, portfolio value, the number of classmates who you believe would pass on before your turn arrives or the sins you haven’t quite been able to forgive yourself for committing?

Or would you prefer to do it with names?  The names of the places you’ve visited, titles of books that inspired you, favourite authors, unforgettable personalities you’ve encountered, those who gave without asking, those who took when they thought you weren’t looking?  And would you chart future in the same manner, i.e. in terms of names, places and people, titles and taglines, brands and pay-off lines, certificates and obituaries, quotable quotes and the thinks that you are determined never to say? 

Would you do it all, this business of back and forth, reviewing past and charting future, in images?  Would you do it by joining the dots of things and people seen, events witnessed, other peoples’ representations in sketch, painting, collage, sculpture, photograph and installation of event, personality, metaphor, memory, dream and horror? 

Would you prefer to store the avenues of recall and the pathways into the horizon in different formats, some as number, some as word, some as image? Would you arrange them in terms of colour, as textures, fragrance-sets, and the heart-rates they produced?  Would you hire a professional archivist?  Would you tear your hair because these things defy ordering? Would you mix it all in tremendous sweep of mind and madness, like a child playing in a heal of dried leaves, let it all fall in whatever way moment and wind and insanity decrees? Would you weep then, or smile? 

I don’t know, to be honest, how I would do it all.  But my friend ErrolAlphonso sent me a wonderful quote yesterday. Woody Allen.  ‘Why are our days numbered and not, say, lettered?’

Got me thinking.  I believe there’s very little in this world that compels one to remember in ordered ways, very few reasons to plan meticulously and too far into the future.  There’s a caressing called for that lies between the insanity of perfect recording/blueprinting and the insanity of w-t-f irresponsibility. 

I think our days are numbered. They are lettered too, although we don’t say it. They are also imaged. 

Our days, come to think of it, more than all this, are silenced.  This we don’t like to acknowledge or be reminded of. 

Note: This was first published four years ago.  Errol has since passed on.