Reclaiming the Parts You Loved
The elevation between Phoenix and Flagstaff, Arizona, climbs
more than 5000 feet. Every 500 - 1000 feet up you get to see very
different vegetation, which makes for a spectacular ride. The
change begins where the palms give way to the saguaro cactus and
continues until you reach the magnificent fir trees below the
San Francisco Peaks.
I was thinking about the dramatically changing scenery today
as we drove to Flagstaff Airport to return our rental car. For
some reason I was reminded of the bareboat sailing expedition
I took with my ex-husband in 1981. I had never been to the Caribbean
before, and the colors of the sea took my breath away. Funny,
I haven't thought of that trip in years and I wondered, why now,
in the high desert of Arizona?
The truth is, I haven't gone back to those memories since my
marriage started to fall apart in the decade that followed the
sailing vacation. It was difficult to keep bumping into reminders
of such a painful time. So I carefully covered up the beauty and
excitement and discovery of that week, the way a dog buries a
Sadly, the price I paid for that burial, and the burial of other
happy memories from my first marriage, was the inability to re-live
some of the peak experiences of my life. Many of my own firsts
and special times were entwined with the ups and downs of our
shared lives, and I hadn't known how to separate my piece from
the whole of it.
But recently I've been aware that with the passage of time has
come relative peace and forgiveness. And that has encouraged me
to blow the sand off those buried memories and to reclaim the
"lost" parts that I had loved.
Like the sailing trip. And vacations spent in Ireland and Japan
and Paris. More than that, I realized that I could again pick
up an old LP and enjoy the music that was part of those days,
without the feeling that it had been "spoiled". That
was an important discovery, because the soundtrack of our lives
is largely made up of songs we associate with people or events,
and it's a shame to have to avoid those songs because of how a
The choice I made to dump the good memories with the bad was
understandable but very short-sighted. Have you ever done this?
Have you pushed away memories of wonderful moments because you
associated them with things that caused you pain?
Well, I say, now's the time to take them back. Take them back
with fondness and even jubilation, because they're yours for the
I'll tell you one thing that I'm taking back - my memory of the
very first time I listened to music through stereo earphones.
It was in 1968 or '69 and I was in my then-boyfriend's dorm room
at college. He put the earphones on my head and then turned up
the volume on Iron Butterfly's Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida. I was totally
transported in time and space. And I can savor the power of that
moment again and again just by giving myself permission to play
the music and go there.
And my high school yearbook; that's a biggie. There were good
times there, and good friends. I want to have access to all of
those experiences again. Along with the early years of my children.
I'm now having our boxes of old slides transferred to CDs. What
a shame it would be not to share them because they remind me of
We don't have to stay stuck with negative associations. They
ultimately rob us of the ability to enjoy the present as well
as the past.
I'm learning that my random memory of the blue Caribbean, as
I observe similarly blue Arizona skies, can be an occasion for
joy rather than a tug of sadness, if I allow it to be. Once again
I can feel the perfect warmth of the sun as I rest my feet on
the rail and listen to the sounds of Earl Klugh for the first
It's up to me to teach my mind what's most helpful for me today.