WHENEVER IT WAS THAT I BEGAN writing these little squibs, it was strictly about ostomy issues. Naturally, I soon ran out of purely ostomy-related subjects and, at that point, branched out into a variety of other memories, experiences, and topics, the one abiding goal being to keep each post short enough to not offend anyone’s attention span. It strikes me, though, that it is all pretty much autobiographical as I wander at will back through time and space, recalling things, describing scenes, and generally remembering stuff that I hope will be of interest to others. You will likely learn less about me from my experiences than my reflective memory of those experiences. But how accurate is it? The truth is that memory is life. We all live in our heads, the original, real-life stream of consciousness that writers like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf later turned into a writing form. And recollection isn’t like re-playing a tape recording. It is bits and pieces, like a jig saw puzzle, that we’re attempting to fit back together while a variety of other influences like ego, phobias, and desire play a role in the act of remembering. It is no simple thing. Add the process of aging into the mix and you’ve complicated it even more. When you forget something, where does it go? Is it still up there, hiding in a dulled engram of your brain? Or has it slipped away, never to be retrieved again? Perhaps it doesn’t make any difference or, if it does, I don’t remember what it is.
Thank you once again for presenting us with a concept that you have described with eloquence and clarity.
I too, have contemplated this subject matter when I was attempting to write my memoirs back in 2018. Fortunately for me, I had developed a ‘habit’ of documenting many of the incidents in my life and the accompanying thoughts in rhyming verse. So when it came to recalling past events, I at least had something to refer to.
Rather than trying to précis my rant on this subject, I’ll reproduce the Prologue to my memoirs for those who might be interested.
There was a time in my life when I would wonder why weird people used the term ‘do-gooder’ in a derogatory fashion as if it was somehow not desirable to do-good.
It wasn’t long before it dawned on me, that these people were the ones whose philosophy of life seemed to be to do harm, or not to care about others whilst in pursuit of their own enhancement.
It is with this concept in mind, that I decided to entitle my own memoirs with the new terminology of a ‘better-maker’. Thus, whilst there was an acknowledgement that I was trying to make a crap life better for myself, I also had a firm eye on trying to do the same for others along the way.
Many times over the years, I had verbally shared snippets of my memories with those who were interested enough to listen, join in a dialogue and sometimes, I would document my thoughts for articles and academic papers. However, I had always thought that the time to write memoirs, was when I was coming towards the end of my life.
I am not sure that I am quite at the end yet but recently I have noticed that my memories are becoming harder to retrieve than they had been in the past. It, therefore, struck me, that if I did not make a start on my own memoirs soon, then it might be too late to attempt and do justice to my own version of what I experienced.
The thought of someone else trying to second-guess the events giving rise to my own thoughts, emotions, rationale, work, recreational activity and explain the way my life developed, filled me with despair.
I simply do not believe that anyone else can know what happened in someone else's life in the same detailed way that the individual knows for themselves.
During this account, it will become apparent that, apart from the very early years, almost all aspects of my life has been ‘self-organised’ and independent.
Sometimes this can give rise to rejection and isolation from other humans, who tend to congregate in ‘packs’ and exude hostility to anyone or anything that does not conform to the group norms. I categorised these marginalised people, with this characteristic as ‘fringe-edgers’, of which, I became proud to be one.
Making ‘friends’ with species outside the human race enables fringe-edgers to understand that the concept of being human, does not preclude individuals from feeling that they are also ‘animals’ and have much more in common with other species than they sometimes have with their own.
The more that modern societies alienate individuals within it, the more likely these social isolates are to turn to alternative ways of satisfying the basic need for ‘love’. The keeping of pet animals has grown in proportion to this increasing alienation and this phenomenon has been of particular interest to me in my work, rest and play.
As the title implies, I hope to show how my life has been dedicated to trying to make things ‘better’ both for myself and others I have met on the journey through life.
I make no apology for including rhyming verses within these memoirs because it was this mode of expression which enabled me to capture some of my more elusive thoughts and feelings about many aspects of life.
Concepts captured in rhyme enabled me to express my emotions without becoming over-emotional and, within this literary genre, I could write about subjects without necessarily attracting the label of being the ‘grumpy old man’ I am proud to have become.
The messages are still there, loud and clear but, it seems, that rhyming verse might be viewed as more lighthearted and eccentric than the rambling rants of an embittered, world-weary old man.
There will be numerous references to bullies and bullying, which are also central themes in other books I have written. Needless to say, this theme is a reflection of my own experiences in life and those of the people I have worked with.
Henry ...You would have to pick today with a memory post ..... Two years ago today at the very hour you posted this ,my husband of 30 years had left the earth .
It made me think , why I've never shed a tear, no looking back too much at the bad , but instead happy for him that his pain had ended. I can only be happy for him in my memory.
Memory is strange thing at times at least for me. I can remember things even back in my childhood. Then there are times I can't remember things that happened a week ago. I have also found that some young people don't really care about things that happened from long ago.