At Durham Nativity School our Thought for the Week of April 14 is by a early 20th century French dramatist. Eugene Ionesco writes that "Dreams and anguish bring us together."
When Eugene Ionesco writes about dreams and anguish as uniting forces in our lives, he is speaking more broadly about memory। In some cases a collective memory of suffering and anguish are a uniting force. For groups that are tortured or enslaved, it is their anguish that unites them. What other groups are bonded by collective suffering?
Ionesco also writes, The light of memory, or rather the light that memory lends to things, is the palest light of all। I am not quite sure whether I am dreaming or remembering, whether I have lived my life or dreamed it. Just as dreams do, memory makes me profoundly aware.”
How do you remember your greatest achievements? How do you remember your greatest failures? Are all these memories strictly self-generated or do they somehow have a corporate life with those who share in them?
I remember a canoeing trip when I was thirteen years old. It all culminated in the last rapid, the Nantahala Falls. To go back there now to that whitewater, as I have done many times since, the Falls are never as big as they were on that hot July afternoon in what must have been 1988. Jeff Barr and were each 75 lbs. soaking wet and we muscled around a big Green Bluehole--a 16 foot whitewater canoe. We managed a 360 in the top hole which means that above the bottom drop we managed to turn our canoe in a full circle before going down the falls. We peeled out of truckstop, a massive eddy on river left and headed toward the center of the river with me in the stern controlling the 45 degree angle to the right. When we flopped down over the top hole, Jeff laid down one of his brilliant draw strokes and with that magnificent stroke and the force of the water we had hit the top hole as an eddy and quickly prepared to peel out before getting side surfed in the turbulence of the top hole. I exposed the bow to the quick moving down stream water and before we knew it we were heading back down stream and over the falls. Meggan and Brian, our counselors, and the other paddlers on our trip cheered over the loud pounding of the frothy water. We were heroes.
I've not written of this story ever, nor thought of it in several years. If not for memory, it would be all but gone, as though it never happened. I can remember it more clearly because it did not happen separate from community. The cheerers on that trip would have retold that story when we returned to camp that evening. They would have even encouraged Jeff and I to retell the story. If it happened alone, I'm not sure I could recall it in the same way. Not to say that significant occurrences do not happen alone, but they are quite different than experiences that others witness and share in. Thanks to memory and the dream of a special moment in a young boy's life, I can recall it as easily as I can breathe. Thank you memory. Thank you Eagle's Nest Camp.