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.
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.
i hope your 2017 is off to a wonderful start!
with rainbows and laughter, mb