Memory is a funny thing. I sometimes think my experience with it is exceptional because I know first hand what it is to be without one (I lost my mine once when I had a traumatic brain injury.) Sometimes I don’t trust the memories I have because I simply don’t know which ones are mine and which I have created based on stories I have heard. In the end, it doesn’t matter….we all have exceptionally creative brains that fill gaps and rewrite stories all the time….can anyone really trust their memory? No, I don’t think so…which is why I write at times….because at least then there is a record of what I believed when I believed it. Memoir is an exercise in memory recall.
Did you write on our last prompt? My friend who was so excited I was starting this series was disappointed that it was something so mundane…But Natalie Goldberg suggests that there are four prompts we should flex writing muscles with all the time: “I’m thinking of../I’m looking at../I remember../I don’t remember.” So we continue with lifting the ten pound weights before we transition to the 25 lb ones.
I want to share a bit of what Natalie shares with those beginning this practice:
“Don’t cross out. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar. Be specific. Not car, but Cadillac. Not tree, but sycamore. But don’t worry, if you write “bird” instead of woodpecker, you can figure out what kind it was two weeks later when you reread it. The important thing is to keep your hand moving. If you get stuck go back and write the prompt again…
Say what you want to say, not what you think you should say. Trust what you put down, even if the editor or critic inside you says it’s wrong or you made a mistake…feel free to write the worst junk in America.”
So here are the rules:
- No editing. Write what you write.
- You may choose to share your post- just post the link in the comments. Or you don’t have to. I sat on some of these writings for a year before I was brave enough to post them. Let them be true…without thought of audience AND then choose what you will share with the world at large. If you choose not to share, will you share some thoughts about your experience writing this prompt?
- Write for ten minutes….at the end of your ten minutes, wrap up with a final thought and end your piece.
That’s it! Easy-peasy, right? So let’s go!
Write for ten minutes on the prompt- “I remember.”
I remember the year we left the Christmas tree up until March. It was after my sister, Lora’s, birthday before we took it down. I think Lora thought it was something special we did in honor of her in that way only young children can imagine that the most mundane of things is a gift to them.
I remember my mother was filled with shame at the thought of it. I wonder if she felt it was an outward reflection of an inner failure on her part that the tree was still up and glistening with icicles and homemade ornaments. We never turned the lights on after Christmas. Those lights were great blinking beacons to her failure and a lighthouse alerting all who would come near that this home did not have it all together.
I remember the day that she admitted truth….that we didn’t have it all together and that, in fact, that made us a stronger family not a weaker one.
I remember my grandmother was dying that year and my baby sister, Alexis, was young, celebrating her second year on earth- or perhaps she wasn’t born yet- perhaps I don’t remember that part at all. I simply remember that there were good reasons for our delayed response to removing the tree at a socially acceptable time. I remember that life had intruded with busy schedules and more important priorities and had stolen from us any of the moments we might have taken to stow away our Christmas memories.