Archive for December 27th, 2021

Where Memory Rests

GC Myers- Where Memory Rests sm

Where Memory Rests — At the Principle Gallery

The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.

― Czesław Miłosz, The Issa Valley

Though I had never read this particular book from the late Nobel Prize winning poet Czeslaw Milosz, the spirit of his words above have served somewhat as a mantra for me in my life. I have always been interested in the lives and stories of others from the past, especially those who were often overlooked and otherwise forgotten in the time since their demise.

For some unknown reason, I have felt a duty to keep their memories alive.

This has been a natural lead-in to genealogy where the stories and lives I reveal have ancestral links with myself. Piecing together connections and clues to recreate the storylines of ancestors gives them a fullness, a living quality, that has faded through the years since their deaths.

I find it personally satisfying but as anyone who has spent any time doing this sort of thing knows, these stories often don’t interest many other people, even those who share the same ancestral connections. I love to tell these tales, to share the oddities and the connections to history we share.

But I have to learned to quickly stop when I see that faraway look in their eyes, that glazed over gaze where I can almost see their mind beginning to focus on what they are going to have for dinner later in the day.

I don’t blame anyone for this reaction. After all, living mainly consists of looking and moving forward for most folks. One’s own immediately recalled memories are all that most folks feel a need to maintain. Stories and memories of people they never will know seem to have little to do with their lives going forward.

I certainly get that.

This time of year around the holidays always makes me more reminiscent of my own memories and these stories of my ancestors, most notably my parents and grandparents. You want the memories of those you loved to remain beyond yourself. I feel like I do owe it to them to tell their stories, to have their memory stay alive and to create a connection to those who will follow them, even those who have never known them.

It’s a fool’s errand, I know.

But it somehow feels like it has a real purpose and that satisfies some part of me that I will never fully understand. Makes it feel worth doing.

Are all fool’s errands foolish?

Who knows? Maybe not…

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: