I was absolutely engaged when I was reading “Memoirs” by Pablo Neruda. When I read the first page, I let out a sigh as if to say “Oh no…” — because I knew I would not be able to put the book down from then on. Every single free moment was used to devour this treasure that I found in the Plaine de Plainpalais, Geneva’s flea market. The last time I felt this way was a few years ago when I read “Walden Two” by BF Skinner. But I do regret the flash of annoyance across my face and accompanying bothered tone when a man disturbed me to ask me the time while I was (obviously) engrossed in my book.
You may be accustomed to my listings of several favorite snippets from a book I read, but for Neruda’s memoirs…
So here is an excerpt of the first page :
“In these memoirs or recollections there are gaps here and there, and sometimes they are also forgetful, because life is like that. Intervals of dreaming help us to stand up under days of work. Many of the things I remember have blurred as I recalled them, they have crumbled to dust, like irreparably shattered glass…Perhaps I didn’t live just in my self, perhaps I lived the lives of others. From what I have left in writing on these pages there will always fall–as in the autumn grove or during the harvesting of the vineyards–yellow leaves on their way to death, and grapes will find new life in the sacred wine. My life is a life put together from all those lives: the lives of the poet.”
My current read is another memoir called “Stitches” by David Small. It is a graphic novel and I chose to read this because frankly, my eyes hurt! Lately, I’ve been busy with work and other projects, meaning a lot of torture at the computer screen.
When I get stressed out, I think of one of my good memories. Friends marvel at my memory abilities and it has helped me through those nine years of university and board exams. I rely heavily on my memory when I visit new places, because I am not much of a photographer. I admire the patience photographers have in turning their dials, keeping still, getting the right frame, etc…all in order to capture the life of the subject to make that image immortal. If at any time you like a photo I post, believe me, it is just plain luck that time aligned to the moment I snapped the picture.
Of course all memories are not “peachy”, and a machine to erase bad memories remains to exist in the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind“. A word of advice per Henry Elllis:
“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”
Due to stress, I have been resorting to one of my favorite memories in Spain. Although twice before in Spain, I fell in love with the country by being in love with a Spaniard. I suppose by loving him, I idealize all that is Spain — the landscapes, food, and the people. Upon one of the visits to his family, we drove to a church located on a hill. Losing count of the numbers of churches seen in Europe, I did not pay any initial attention to this church. Instead, I made a beeline for steep stone steps leading to the expanse of ocean.
After we walked back up, I was stunned at what I ignored firsthand.
I cannot satisfactorily convey how I felt at this moment. Maybe it is like feeling what others describe as falling in love with a person at first sight? So I fell in love with the moment? I remember the stillness of the sea left behind me, the scratchy gravel under my sandals, the mountains squinting at me through the sunlight, and the light breeze carrying his voice saying, “Let’s take a look.” This is the memory I use to calm myself down from stress. This place is a secret shared between him and me, but I may whisper it to you one day…if you are close enough.
And another way to relieve your stresses is to simply plop onto the couch and watch a movie. I’ve watched two good ones lately, that have similar plots — caregivers hiding their pregnancies.
1. “Separation” is the first Iranian film to win an Academy Award for best Foreign Language Film. It is so intense and provides insight to the Islamic faith.
2. “Amador” is a Spanish film that is calmer, and more predictable than the former. The moving part was a letter from the dying man to his love:
There’s a new girl coming everyday. But I think they’re paying her to argue with me because that’s all she does. She’s like you in that respect. I can feel my time here running out. But I don’t want to leave without telling you something because I was too ashamed. Even though you might not expect to hear it anymore, or even need to. It’s important to me. I wouldn’t want to keep these words inside, or take them along with me because inside of me they have no value. But in you, they may blossom.
Te quiero con me alma