Never hide from the memories. Embrace the emotions. Remember the love. Appreciate life.
Requiem For A Swap
I feel obligated to supply an intro of sorts. This was originally an open letter to a group of people that attended an annual event. We celebrated the beginnings of spring with a perennial plant swap. It was to be the last of 20 such events and it brought me a certain melancholy. I thought that you should know this. You should also know that the order in which we were able to make our choices were determined by numbered popsicle sticks. You will read why. This was not meant to be shared with anyone else, but it has become a personal favorite and I wanted to share it with you. Should you question who 'Hummy' is, for all of those that may not share my obsession with gardens and nature, it is the ruby-throated hummingbird, the only one of its kind that shares the eastern half of the United States with us.
But the piece is not really about the event, or the plants we collect and share. It was about memories. it was about the fact that all things come to an end. Enjoy. If you would really like to experience the essay, there is a version online with a nice high-def image and a soundtrack that just may help you find that private place that I was shooting for. You can find it at https://lonecypressworkshop.com/2018/05/08/requiem-for-a-swap/
REQUIEM FOR A SWAP
A TIME TO SAY GOODBYE
We all lose things that we care about at one time or another in our lives. For the most part, they are not very important in any real sense, and the loss is of no real consequence. But then there are others that change our world and our perspectives. They were integral to our lives, and life without them will at least be just a little bit more of a challenge and an inconvenience, and we may at some point come to the realization just how important they were to making our own little version of reality actually work.
And then there are those things that really matter to us, and at times we do not understand until they are no longer there, when we realize our life in some respect will simply never be the same again. We tend to call them many things, but no matter how we label or interpret them, they all stem from the very same concept. They are what we call old friends.
It is so hard to say goodbye to an old friend. Especially when you really don't want to. New beginnings are full of excitement. The essence of anticipation and new discoveries. But goodbyes can be so final. The end of an era, so to speak, and in this case, something so very special, at least to me in my little world. An old friend. I know that I am losing something. It is going away, and it undeniably will be missed, but certainly remembered.
There will remain a void, but not just yet. There will be a small ache and even a tear for what once was, but that will remain in a tomorrow that I will continue to hope never comes. But today I guess that it is time to say goodbye. They say that all good things must come to an end, and this may well be true. Accept it we will, but that does not mean that we have to do so willingly.
Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories; they’re all that's left you
~ Paul Simon ~ Bookends 1968
How do you say goodbye to an old friend? Why do we have to? I don't want to. But reality is a harsh mistress, and she does not deal with feelings or justice. She does not play favorites. Things will come and they will go. She decides, and she has no regrets. She does not think in such terms. And life goes on. We can fight it to some extent, but in the end, we can do little but accept what she offers and deal with the aftermath. It has never been otherwise.
So what is an old friend exactly? Can it only be a person, someone you have known forever, or even someone that you have known for a short time, or can it be a 'something', and therefore whatever you conceivably wish it to be? For me, it is a feeling, a thought, a memory. It can certainly be embodied in the form of a person, but just as easily a part of anything which brings me peace and comfort.
Something that puts my life in perspective and brings me just a little piece of happiness in a world that is all too often fraught with frustrations, confusions and hard realities. It can certainly be an individual that you have lost through time or circumstance and there is a certain sadness or nostalgia for the person that is no longer a part of your journey. Possibly there are misgivings for words and thoughts never communicated. But nevertheless a very real sense of warmth at having had them in your life. And possibly the sorrow of never having really said goodbye. A parent. A sibling. A lover. A friend. Even a loving pet. All companions at one time. All good friends. All old friends. All now gone. Forever gone, but never really forgotten.
But old friends can also be those things that bring a smile to your lips and a sense of tranquility to your soul. Things that calm your heart, motivate your actions and invigorate your thoughts. Things like a favorite book that you have read many times or a song that takes you back to a time when .... I'll let you fill in the blank. It may make you cry tears of joy for the memories that come flashing back in a vivid burst of clarity, or simply rekindle an overwhelming wave of spent emotions. Or it could possibly be an old hat or a pair of shoes that you just can't bear to part with. The sound of a radiator or even an old painting or photograph on the wall. Evoking old memories. Old friends. The list could be endless, and as unique and varied to each individual as the stars in the night sky, even if we can't really see them all that well anymore, or even take the time to look.
All of these things I have mentioned so far have been tangible. At one time they could be touched or felt or heard. And sometimes even the memory of a smell can reunite you with a moment of time well past, a recollection of a yesterday. An occasion where time stands still and that split second when reality allows you to experience a private moment. A Deja vu moment. We all have them, at least we should. Precious moments. A life without memories is a life yet to be lived. Melancholy with perhaps just a bit of nostalgia, and yet a joyful reminiscence of events to be cherished and not forgotten.
And speaking of events, we are here today to question the ability of events to be old friends as well. They are not people, they are not alive, and yet they have a life of their own. They are not items that can be touched and yet they can touch us in ways we do not even recognize. Do we not celebrate birthdays and anniversaries for they call attention to unique moments in our lives? Are there not those that live for holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving as well as all the others? We celebrate family and religion, independence and the changing of the seasons and the march of time from one year to the next. Are these events not old friends as well? Our lives are full of these old friends, and so many more. A life, full and rich in memories that give meaning and substance to our existence. They are not just a part of life, but they are the essence of life itself.
We all have our own specific list of these things that can be remembered as old friends, and we are here today to say goodbye to one of them. I sit here bittersweet. Full of anticipation for an upcoming event that has become a welcome part of my life experience, and a mandatory aspect to the rites of spring. On the surface, it may seem to be something less than momentous, but for me, that is not the case. For me, it has become an old friend. Eager to experience once again an event that has brought me memories and comfort for twenty years now. And yet at the same time sadness because it will never happen again.
A unique experience. There certainly may be a replacement, a substitute, and I guess the possibility does exist that it could be just as enjoyable and memorable, but for now, that can only be a hope and an optimistic expectation. The fact of the matter is that there are no two people alike, and their experience of a book, or a song, or a smell, can never be the same as another. Our lives are flavored with a million spices of interpretation, and what we experience is always both singular and unique. So too with this event. I will savor the moment. It is a time of celebration and joy. It will always be remembered that way.
A time when politics and religion and philosophy take a breather and allow us to just be a group of people with a common cause, to enjoy the earth and the flowers that frustrate us to no end. There are no teams and no conflict. No agendas and no goals, unless it be to get that coveted #1 ice cream stick, or at least an interesting specimen to be coddled and nurtured in our garden. I fail to understand why we cannot do this more often with the things that are truly important, but I have failed to come up with an explanation all of my 60 odd years. I am not sure it is an easy answer, although it does seem that it should be.
I look forward to the people that we will see again but for a day. Many of those people, for the most part, we see only for a short time each year. Like-minded individuals that love the trials and tribulations of creating a 'garden'. You know who I'm talking about. Many people that do not share the passion might portray us as the 'not-so-smart people'. But we know better. There is so much beauty in the world around us. We tend to overlook some of the more simple pleasures. When we do, we lose much of what we are actually trying to find in life. The Earth. Nature. It gives us the opportunity to appreciate and understand what it is to be alive. To respect the gift of life itself.
We invest so much time and effort in the attempt to bring a little beauty and joy into our lives. We won't talk of the challenges and obstacles involved. Or the money. I keep trying to nurture my money tree but have yet to make it bloom. And we are rewarded, at least sometimes, for all of our efforts. If spring gets here soon enough, but not this year. If there is not a drought or a killing frost or even snow in June, which would not surprise me with the year we are already having. If the rain does not wash away weeks of work. Or if we don't just make some bad decisions and screw everything up all on our own.
Not to mention adopting something from the swap that overwhelms our garden. We know we have been guilty of this at times in the past but we just can't help wanting to 'share' the experiences that have brought us such joy. But karma is a real prankster. Rest assured that we have had the pleasure ourselves, even if maybe not a direct 'payback'. But in the end, they come back and bless us with another flower, which means another butterfly and another bee. And don't forget Hummy! Each one a work of art. Each one truly a miracle in itself. The miracle of life. Those that do not see life through our perspective miss out on something that cannot really be explained. It can only be experienced. I wish everyone could see what I see.
As I end my dirge, I leave a tear for my old friend. The swap has been a good friend. It is now a dear old friend. And I take this moment to remember days gone by. Days that brought me peace, even though there is never enough time to prepare. That happens with all too much of my life, so maybe it's just me? And days that have brought me pleasure, and you have all been a part of that. But I refuse to say goodbye. The French have the correct mindset. They do not say goodbye. They say au revoir. Until we meet again.
So ….. au revoir.
The 'Swap' has been an important piece of my 'puzzle', my journey, my path.
Thank you for being a friend
It will all be missed
Goodbye Old Friend
My Soul Gives Honor To Your Soul