Small Rituals: Prologue

Prologue:

I love the way a memory can pop up at the most unexpected time. Sometimes as clear as day and sharp as an omen. I have a fascination with memory. I read academic books and articles about neuroscience and how memory works. I will spend hours contemplating a single memory, turning it this way and that way, focusing on long ago feelings from fresh new angles. Some memories grow with time and attention, the details become richer as words left unspoken echo far into the future. What was once a momentary pause can linger on and on. When I reminisce with honesty, I discover all sorts of hidden nooks and crannies filled to the brim with the good and the bad, with the smells and tastes and textures that trigger a myriad of feelings eager to be revived.

 It is truly a marvel to me how memories can grow and accumulate through a lifetime, yet our heads remain the same size.

I’ve been searching for the border between memory and imagination. It has been a futile search. There is no real border to discover, neither metaphorical nor literal. Musing over the past can only ever be an act of lacing together memories with imagination. Inevitably, while remembering I begin to imagine why someone else did what they did, I can’t help but to imagine how another person might have felt, or what might have been said that I didn’t hear. Turning memories into stories leads to re-enacting conversations word for word, as if they are happening in the moment and not a long ago past. With each new telling, details become richer and sometimes new characters emerge. Characters who are compilations of people I’ve met on my travels or known for a lifetime. I’ve learned that sometimes to find the truth inside a story – you need an imaginary friend. A friend who helps you to reveal the feelings and thoughts that would otherwise remain buried beneath a lifetime of finely crafted lies to ourselves and others.

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