Living as a nomad, it was bound to happen: I left my computer behind. Bouncing between cities (two) and offices (four) as I've done the past semester, I rely on THE LIST -- things to do before leaving the house (empty the kitchen compost, e.g.) and things to bring (er, that'd be the computer, e.g.). The list works great... if I actually use it. Last week, I didn't. The irony is, I'm finally settling in again, finally staying put -- one city, one office, for the most part, anyway. Maybe that was it. I let my guard down, got cocky.
"Remember." The Bible is full of commands to remember. It is itself a testimony of remembrance, a witness to the power of memory, and its commands humanize with their instructions. Of hospitality and kindness, "Remember that you also were foreigners, strangers in a strange land." Of faith and community, "Do this in remembrance of me." To recognize the sacred and sanctify the ordinary, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy."
Being without my computer, the days were different, slower. I wrote by hand, read huge chunks of books for ideas and a big-picture sensibility (rather than recording with detailed notes). Thanks to Audubon, I identified a pair of green herons and watched as Beverly, a large almost black beaver, munched the mini maples around the periphery of the pond out back. I cleared bamboo and braised local lamb shanks. I spent time with the ones I love -- two- and four-leggeds alike.
Then it was Memorial Day. Dinner with new friends and the invitation to share gratitude. Thanks for this place, these people, the food. But thanks, too, for the ones who have gone before. Honor to their memory -- those who have sacrificed in our armed services, yes, but also to those ordinary and extraordinary individuals whose lives, vision, and selves helped shape the ideas, conditions and company I enjoy today. My great aunt Lucille, Thomas Jefferson, those who fought to ban DDT, Louis Pasteur, my boyfriend's father.
Truth is, I have a terrible memory. I want to remember that as I age so that I don't worry unnecessarily about my forgetting. But, well, you see the problem there. Maybe, though, forgetting can lead, as in the case of my computer, to different kinds of remembering. Deeper remembrances -- of our tiny-ness, of our dependence on and debts to others, of what is holy. Now where did I put those keys?