Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A dented label and a stack of letters

For family reasons, I am beginning to go through a lot of personal papers, mainly letters. And I am sent back some handfuls of years ago. Back to a time when I was still single, when being a mother wasn't part of my plan, when I spent most of my time studying and travelling.
And it is amazing to read my own handwriting and my own words, from my younger me to my parents.
There is such a bittersweet mix of feelings, the rekindling of old memories that had been lying dormant for ages. It is like going through the mirror and meeting my old self. I wrote such long letters at that time, sweet and beautiful accounts of my adventures. Through these letters I see again names I had erased from my memory. Events. Stories. Trips. Details.
Speaking of my parents, I came upon an old jar of jam in my cellar this morning. And stumbled on the label, a dented label with my father's handwriting on it, specifying a date and a name. Be still, my heart: in a single day I have swum up the stream and encountered testimonies of a time that I tend to forget these days.
My father died a few years ago. And I thought at the time that nothing would ever be the same again. I was somehow right, and yet, the power of daily routines and the life of a wife and mother have turned my life inside out and sent me on track again. A new track. Without my dad, my relevance, my rock.
There are moments in life when suddenly you are swept off your feet and you lose your balance. And then with a bit of luck, and love, and good sense, you find your center again.
And there are moments when mundane things, like a label or a stack of letters, create this 'Back to the future' kind of time warp and have you float in a special space, between past and present. It's like witchcraft.
And it is interesting, too. You find yourself making judgements on your past persona, and on your present life. When doing so, at least today, I find myself mourning and regretting some things. Certainly, on a scale of the things I can share here, I had a lot of opportunities to travel and meet people. More money, as I could spend it mostly all for myself. More time. And more friends, because as I have found, a woman with several kids loses a part of her interest (is that her conversation, her involvement, her responsibilities?). But I also find myself wrapped by the magic of what life has given me.
Yes, these days I can tell you more about the special cream I have discovered that can be rubbed on little chests to cure bad colds, than about the latest movie played downtown. But rubbing little chests and getting up at night to comfort little ones has replaced planning trips or going to parties. Sipping my morning coffee while reading has become a rare luxury, yet I used to read all morning on week ends!
And what I read from a dented label or a stack of letters is that they all form a long and sinuous path, that life is all about evolving and moving from one place to another. That everything is in constant change and that it is essential to go with the flow, move along that movement. We change places, we change. Rather than growing older, we grow. So many details are erased on the way, absorbed in the whirlwind of events and occurences, but emotions do not fade. Feelings remain. And we must count our blessings, if we are blessed enough to be still on that evolving path.
There are a few names crossed off my letters, a few authors of labels who are gone already. I am still on the path that takes me further. It is an amazing path, full of pains and wonders, passion and amazement. Like all human beings I have always struggled as to where the path takes us, and even why, but at least I can see that this path is pure magic. Further down the path, after witnessing both the good and the bad, I can say for sure it really is magic.


  1. This was one of my favorite posts of yours. It was fun to catch more of a glimpse into your story -- who you are, the goodness of your soul I'd always apparent in your writings -- but I know very little about the stories that have made you this person. Fun to read about your days traveling and writing letters home. Touching to hear of your dad and think of the flood of emotions and memories that would have come to you from that simple jam label.

    But, even more than that, I could just relate so well (as I think most could) to the journey, the reminiscing on past versions of ourselves, the realizing that life -- changing and experiencing and growing -- is magic.

    Loved it! So glad I ever connected with you across this crazy world-broadening internet!

    1. It feels nice to share a glimpse with you too! I sometimes feel like sharing more, but it is a crazy world out there (both cyber and real world!) and I feel many things are not owned by me, but by those who share my life. Then there is also my professional life that really has to be kept separate from my blog activities. And so, I often hold myself back. Still, there is a lot that can be shared, and as I have found out, sharing is part of this magic of life. I am also so happy that through this Internet space I could encounter great and sincere people like you and Sachi and a few beautiful others! :)

  2. I sympathize with your feelings, Val! There is a time when things do draw us back to the past with bitter and sweet feelings. I think probably most people have their own nostalgic memories(So do I:)). And I feel that by sharing them with each other ( we know everyone feels the same about something), we are getting to reach somewhere where exisiting matter is unhangeable. Life is "change", but through our life's experiences, we learn "the magic" to go back to the root, the "unchangeable thing" ( I would call it "mother")
    I thank you so much for sharing this story!:)

    1. You are right dear friend, there is at the bottom of all things some unchangeable essence. It is sometimes hard to grasp, sometimes hard to see, above all hard to explain, yet sometimes it is so easy and natural to feel! It seems something is common to all of us, living creatures, we share the same space and time, we even have connectedness with those who are gone through memories, feelings, and the things we have inherited from them. Although everything changes all the time, there seems to be a connexion, a bottom line, maybe our connectedness with the whole universe through Nature and emotions? A life in itself is a miracle, and it never truly stops, it bounces back and remains in a handful of atoms, a torrent of thoughts and a variable amount of transmitted knowledge and artefacts. I feel there is magic in all that!