ephemeral ~ word for 2017

my word for 2017 seems to be ephemeral. it’s a little bit different, as words-of-the-year go, but it keeps popping up in my mind, and going away again, only to pop up again later. most of my thoughts are… ephemeral like that. they ebb and flow. i have a running joke about my memory with my coworker, that i intend to visit lumosity.com and play brain games to improve my memory, but that i keep forgetting.

having an ephemeral memory is arguably a good thing for a writer. rebecca mcclanahan, in her book, word painting, says, “…a bad memory can be an asset to a writer. if you have a mind like a sieve, be grateful. a sieve filters, strains and selects; though much falls through the meshwork, some remains. memory is an act of meaning-making. it collects the disparate pieces of our lives and distills them. for writers, what we forget is as important as what we recall.”

(rich wants you to know he offered to help vacuum the sand out of my table for me! what a guy! always trying to vacuum me off my feet.)

how’s that for a positive spin on memory loss, a trait that is usually considered negative? you know how i like to intentionally look at life, and even myself, through a heart-shaped lens. meaning-making! actively, the memories and thoughts we choose to emphasize and reflect upon are the ones that become infused with meaning, and the act of choosing how we construct life meaning empowers us. i suspect that those active choices influence how we passively sieve through the moments as well, perhaps by training the sieve on what to retain and what to let slip through.

(snow in our town is ephemeral: here for a very short time!)

so far this year i’ve settled on “be the rainbow” as my mantra. and what better word to describe a rainbow than ephemeral? it suggests beauty that cannot be held onto. we cannot cling to it or grasp it, or in the case of a rainbow, even reach it or touch it, but at the same time, we must let it stop us in our tracks, we must absorb all we can of the beauty of the present moment, acknowledging the fleeting gift we are receiving. the same can be said of a desert flower, a childhood, the way a tidepool is arranged on a given tide.

(flat bride would like this mojave desert five-spot; taken in 2002 or so)

it’s not just that the rainbow goes away, it was that it appeared at all in the first place. “nothing gold can stay,” and it makes the gold even more precious. it’s about holding on… it’s about letting go… it’s about showing up to create the sand painting, knowing its impermanence going into it. it’s about cherishing every night time wake-up from your nine year old, knowing each one may be the last. it’s about gasping for joy at the sunrises, sunsets, and rainbows, in spite of the way they mark the inexorable march of time.

(velociraptor, april, 2012)

the wikipedia entry for ephemerality mentions brine shrimp, the meticulous culture of which i spent a season perfecting at my day job. and, and! it mentions the ephemeral organ of gestation, the placenta. dare i admit that i still have one of those lurking in my chest freezer, living in its 6th residence to date. (time to let it go, you think? maybe we’ll plant a tree for his 10th birthday, here at the dragon house… with a little freezer-burned placenta fertilizer.)

this will be a year of celebration, and although those singular rainbow celebration days will so swiftly flutter past on fragile wings, i plan to do all i can to be present for them, as well as pin bits of them to the scrapbook of life, maybe store some bits in film canisters and cassette cases, and preserve my favorite moments in the canning jars of time with my camera and words and store them on the shelves of my blog. all the while celebrating a love that is built to outlast it all.

(post-it notes are my low-tech pinterest)

i hope your 2017 is off to a wonderful start!

with rainbows and laughter, mb



5 comments to ephemeral ~ word for 2017

  • camp boss

    I heart your low tech Pintrest. I look forward to being a part of the celebratory moments of this year and re-enjoying them on the blog!!!

  • camp boss

    oh and I think it is time to let the freezer burned placenta go back to the earth 🙂 that ships has sailed…..for you at least 😉

  • Holly.

    I loved this post so much I read it twice. It is so beautifully written and carefully pondered. The part about a writer’s memory was especially encouraging to me. I have a terrible memory, but it’s what I remember that matters :). It is so lovely the way you are able to think things through and make connections in your life. I get a little jealous at times because I’m pulled in so many directions right now with my family life that there seems to be no thoughts to hold together in my cluttered brain. At the heart of this current chaos I know that it too is ephemeral, transitory, fleeting. I guess the sooner we can embrace this truth and stop trying to hang on to each moment the better.

    Placenta in your freezer?!?! For 10 years!! I think, yep, this is the year to plant it!

  • so, two votes already for let go of the placenta? wow, such a popular idea! 😉
    holly, i have you to thank for the writer’s memory quote, for recommending that lovely book to me in the first place. i totally understand the jealous feeling, as i have it quite often for you homeschool mamas who get to immerse in home life, because i secretly long to do so myself a good part of the time. but it is possible that i have more space for “me” and for getting into writing mode, the way my life is formatted, in spite of full time outside-home job. certainly only having one kid, and only having him half of the time, and the fact that he is getting to be self sufficient at 9 going on 10, gives me a bit more freedom. <3 lots of glass half full for all of us, i think!
    amy, "that ship has sailed" will always make me laugh a belly laugh. favorite. phrase. ever.

  • Lau

    Accidentally stumbled across this right now thabks to a gmail search…..so much love and rainbows and low tech Pinterest brought to life….mwah

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