Memory is a blessing and a curse. Most of the time people talk about the ghosts of the past that highlight regrets or bring back times that remind us of what we missed or lost. We think about “good old days” and “back when”. Primarily, that particular ability for recall brings up all the deficits of the present as we put on the rose colored glasses of “yesteryear”.
Don’t get me wrong. I am as guilty as the next. There are some terribly painful missing elements in my present existence and some glorious victories of days gone by that make me feel every second of my *cough* years. I have aches of grief and regret. I pine for times gone by that history has graced with a veneer of soft reminiscence. I miss the people gone from my life. I miss… my youth, my choices not taken, and I consider the alternative pathways I might have explored.
And now I will call for a full stop, before I start traipsing down that depressing road.
I had a reminder this very evening that memory can also be a blessing. I stepped into one of our regular haunts. For those who understand the concept of “the pub,” there is no explanation required. For the rest, a pub or “the pub” isn’t a bar or even just an establishment serving adult beverages. It is the local gathering place, where people share news and gossip, where you celebrate you victories amongst friends and your griefs amongst family. It is, to borrow from an iconic television cliche “a place where everybody knows your name.” These establishments are rare in the U.S. (we had prohibition, remember), and even more so in the south. I’ve been lucky enough to find a few places that fit the bill. It isn’t about the liquid refreshment or food. It is about the staff and the patrons who frequent these rare gems that give them the distinction of “pub”.
I’ve gotten distracted, as usual, but tonight, I had a plethora of stimuli that set up the internal playback mechanisms. The jukebox had evidently been loaded by every family member and friend wanting to visit my recollections. Every musical interlude called to mind a different person or particularly vivid event to mind. The time of year primed my mind to drift towards the past and all the elements missing from my present.
My saving grace met me shortly upon entering the pub. Making customary greetings, I happened upon this dear friend (family of choice). He remarked to me, “Remember how we met…”
I did. In that particular instance, he had been helping out on a busy night waiting tables. We had been new patrons. He smarted off. I smarted back. The rest is history. No. It isn’t. It is present. It is future. We recognized something in each other: A sense of humor, a spark of something… In days past they might have called it kindred spirit. From there so many friendships and feelings of family grew…
It reminded me of all the people that circumstance and synchronicity has brought to my life. Not all good, but if I am honest (and I suck at lying) more good than bad.
This year… It’s blown chunks. I can’t lie (see above). There have been some extraordinarily bad times about this year. But tonight, I was reminded that if I examine the account, my balance is still the the good. Take the win. Worry about the margin another time.