Week 3 Prompt: Canopy

This canopy of leaves

under which we lie,

a shelter from all the fears and pains

this life has brought us…

This crown cover,

a silent witness

to our hopes and wishes

both spoken and unspoken…

Gives us this momentary comfort

from the torturous sun.

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Of flowers and funny mothers 


I bought these flowers yesterday with my mother in mind. She would’ve turned 83 today. She loved flowers and liked to have fresh flowers on the altar, so I always bought some on Sundays when I was home.

I miss my mother. I miss hearing her voice, especially her laughter. She was a funny woman who could not tell a story without standing up and making gestures and lots of facial expression. But she only did that in front of her 4th grade pupils and us, her family. She always seemed different when with other people.

At her funeral, my sisters unanimously voted for me to give the eulogy. The youngest always gets the least easy task. I was unprepared (funeral was held three days after she passed on) — sleep-deprived, a restless 5-year-old to look after, and a flight to catch –and I was unable to deliver a eulogy my dramatic yet funny mother would have liked. Sorry, Ming.

These days what it feels like is wanting so much to speak with somebody but the person can never be there anymore. Not even a video call or even a text message. Just silence. And a big part of you just wants to break that silence even just for a minute, even if what she says is the same thing over and over again.
T.

On Mistakes, Memories and Introversion  

One of the lines that struck me from the season finale of Westworld, was spoken by Bernard to Maeve: “How can you learn from your mistakes, if you don’t remember them?

Though some memories are better totally forgotten, these actually have contributed to our present selves. The “we” that we know is a product of all the experiences we have been through and our memories of them.

I think I have an earlier post on a similar theme, but I like musing on this idea: that awareness and understanding and acceptance of our past – all the good and the bad – help us deal with our present selves. I had some very sad experiences as a child, and even sadder and painful experiences as an adult, but I acknowledge that those same experiences have helped shape a more confident, wiser and stronger ME.

In my early twenties, I was made aware of certain patterns in my behavior towards certain people and circumstances. I would have the same problems, dilemmas over and over again. Same story, different people that I was unhappy with  and different settings. It took me a while to see that I was following a pattern. Thankfully I was patient enough with myself and had the enthusiasm to write in my journal my thoughts and feelings during this very confusing period of my life. My journals have been a great help in my journey through self-awareness and self-acceptance. My memories have taught me how to handle my emotions better, and how to prevent myself from getting into an unhealthy pattern of behavior of unnecessarily feeling hurt by other people who may or may not have the intention to hurt me.

My memories have helped me narrow down my list of trusted friends. My memories remind me of the kind of people and situations I have to avoid to have some peace within, because it is true –one can be kind to everybody, but one can’t possibly have everyone as a friend. It may sound like I have built a wall around me, and that it’s not a good thing. I beg to differ though. I think we need walls to protect ourselves, but the walls have to have a door where we can let certain people in; and certainly with age, I feel this works for me. I do not feel the need to meet with so many people and have more “friends”. I do not get energized going to parties and making small talk with people who, just like me, are merely being polite. It’s exhausting. (But yes, once in a while, necessary which is why I socialize once or twice a month.)

However I enjoy being among my family and a handful of people I call friends, with whom I don’t have to be merely polite, but be able to show not only the loving and caring me, but also the silly, goofy me. Then I can laugh. And the laughter is real.

I recognize the changes I have gone through from being introverted as a child, extroverted as a teenager and twenty-something, and introverted again as an adult. This is quite common, I guess, as a number of people online have asked if people become more introverted with age.

The shift to introversion may be a result of the experiences older people have had and their memories of them. The mistakes they made in their lives somehow make them build a wall around themselves, not to hide themselves, but to let only a few people in – the ones they think are worth keeping. And with the wall too, they get to have more time for themselves and introspect and assess their lives.

I agree with Bernard, we should remember our mistakes. We should have memories. And we should be mindful of them. Learn from them. Or we risk making the same mistakes we did in our youth,trapped in a looped narrative and not even knowing it. That is just sad.

 

I wrote this in December 2016. I don’t remember why I didn’t post this though. Perhaps later I will re-read this and realize why I didn’t and then take it down. Lol. I’m looking forward to the next season of WW. But first, Game of Thrones! 

On Age, Music and Chemicals in the Brain

music

A few days ago, I came across this interesting post on serotonin and dopamine and was reminded of it yesterday as I was listening to the songs of Barry Manilow. (OK. Please. Just be patient with me. I do have a point I want to share.)

When I was younger (“…so much younger than today…”) whenever I heard Barry Manilow’s songs, I would sing along until I cried (Yeah, I was that disgustingly dramatic.) I would think of the guys that I liked but didn’t even know I existed, or the guys that I liked but were not free, or the only one that broke my heart to pieces. (Who would not cry listening to “Even Now” and “Somewhere down the Road”???)

Now that I’m in my 40’s and in a stable, loving relationship with my husband of 10 years, and together raising a child, I feel absolutely nothing when I hear the songs that used to make me cry and later make me smile. When I listened to those same songs yesterday, there was not even a sigh. Nada. It seemed like that part of my mind or my heart just disappeared!

My husband thinks it’s just because I’m over that time in my life. Well, I have been over that period in my life for years now. But I used to have fond memories of that time. Now, even that fondness is gone.

So I wonder if those chemicals in my brain are up to something, or I am just getting old or already old.

Do old songs still make you cry or smile or angry? Do they have any effect on you at all? 

Mother’s Memories

You stared blankly into space  
As if looking at something 
That only you could see. 

Then you opened your mouth to speak 
About old friends and the fun times you had with them 
And how there was only peace among everyone 

You said you wanted to go back to the old house 
With the people you say were your real friends. 

We wish we could give you what you want. 
But the house has been gone for over half a century 
And your friends’ tombstones have even faded 

I wiped a tear away as I felt I was no longer in your memory. 
But I braved myself to ask,  “Do you know who I am?”
You turned to look at me and softly said my name, 

 And added, “My dearest child.” 

Childhood Memories

childhood memories

I watched the movie “Lucy” sometime ago and thought the first half of the film was interesting, and then it just got stranger and sillier until the end. But one scene that stuck with me is the phone conversation Lucy had with her mom, where she told her she could feel everything, remember everything vividly, as if they happened just a few seconds ago. She could remember how her mother kissed her when she was still a baby.

Would you like that? To remember everything so vividly? I am guessing most people would like to remember just the happy, beautiful times and not the painful ones. In fact most people would prefer to forget the pain they have gone through.

When I was a little girl, being the youngest, I was very affectionate with my mother. I always liked kissing and hugging her and being kissed and hugged in return. She always smelled of Johnson’s Baby Powder, and I liked that. I went on being like this even when I was already in my late 20’s. My sisters used to tell me off telling me it was disgusting that I still acted like a baby when I was already an adult. But it never bothered me what other people thought.

Those are not the only memories I have of me and my mother in my childhood though. I also still vividly remember the times my mother got angry with me and my sisters. I would not say it was a typical Asian way of discipline, but it was quite common to be hit and scolded in front of family and friends or even strangers. My sisters and I sometimes talk about those times with a little sadness and a lot of laughter, but my mother remembers nothing of those times she was not gentle with us.

Yes, I remember them as well, but those hugs and kisses are the more powerful memories.

So now that I, myself, have become a mother, I hug my son tightly as often as I can, hoping he will never forget how much his mom loves him and makes him feel loved. I want him to always remember the loving look his mom gives him, and how when he is scared or hurt, his mom comforts him and makes him feel safe.

It is useless to wish he won’t remember the times I get angry with him, but I hope those memories will not be as vivid as the beautiful ones.

One of my favorite scenes from Dostoevky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov is at the trial of Mitya (Dmitry) when Dr. Herzenstube was called to the witness stand. He recalled a time when he saw Mitya as a little boy, “barefoot, his little trousers held up by a button…” He felt so sorry for him, knowing that Mitya’s father cared little for the boy, and decided to give him a pound of nuts. After that he did not see Mitya again, until twenty-three years later, a young man came to visit him and reminded him of his generosity. This young man said to him, “I’ve just come to town and I want to thank you now for the pound of nuts you once gave me, because you’re the only person who has ever given me a pound of nuts in my whole life!”

What happens in our childhood may have a major impact in our lives as adults. We remember things that happened to us when we were children as if they just happened yesterday. Some may be good, others may make us cringe or angry.

What’s your best childhood memory?

Love in the time of Computers

How many times have I fooled
Myself into hoping
That you’d come
Knocking at my door
To surprise me
To make me smile
Like you used to.

Why is it so hard
To store in this brain
That you had moved on
But left everything
For me to process
And decode the meaning
Of your sudden leaving.

Isn’t it enough
That you had left
(Not the country,
Though I sure wish you would!)
And that you see me
See you happier
Without me?

But ah, this brain
This brain has faulty programming.
Its memory is full.
It cannot store new data
And none can be deleted.
It can only self-destruct,
In due time.