Who on earth was she when when no one knew she was Hanna…
“But what made the greatest impression during those early days was the man who employed her at the bakery. ‘What’s your name?’ Hanna hesitated for a while before answering, ‘Hanna, Lovisa, Greta . . . Broman.’ ‘Married?’
“‘Yes, but my husband’s dead.”’ “’Now, then,’ said the man, noting it down. ‘Date of birth?’ She was silent. She’d never heard anything so silly. He had to repeat it. ‘”When and where were you born, woman?’ She stated both year and parish, got the job . . . she never forgot the foreman’s questions and repeated themselves to herself every evening for a long time afterwards. Name, married, born? To her it was if she’d fallen into a gigantic hollow on Wolf Mountain. Who on earth was she when no one knew she was Hanna Augustdotter from Braten, granddaughter of the rich Erik of Framgarden, and who become the miller’s wife at Norakvattnet? Fortunately she wasn’t given to brooding. But many a time over the next few years she had to fend off the feeling of having lost her foothold.”
[Fredriksson, M. (1994). Hanna’s Daughters. The Ballantine Publishing Group: New York]
“…to remain alive is to be subject to the grinding force of memory. Day and night the millstone turns, shaping the soul and softening the heart. To some, this going around and around the same subject may seem like emotional paralysis. But there is also something freeing about this attachment to remembrance. One day, one hour, one child, keep cutting through to the present. All other days take shape around this circle of emptiness.” ~V Schwarcz (Bridge Across Broken Time)
I was a child, Nostalgia seemed a small stamp: I was here… My mother was there.
When I grew up Nostalgia became a ticket: I was here… My bride was there.
Years later, Nostalgia was a little tomb: I was outside… My mother was inside.
And now, My nostalgia is a shallow strait: I am at here… The mainland is there.
~ Yu Guang Zhong
“The Chinese expression for “nostalgia” is xiangchou, literally “village sadness.” …xiangchou describes the grief that accompanies the traveler who cannot find a way back to the home village…[it] is not a geographical predicament but a spiritual state of being. First he finds himself outside the mother as a tiny emblem of apartness, then he is the man who contemplates her tomb. The shallow waters of the Taiwan straits are, similarly, not only a spatial divide between the island and the mainland but a reminder of the longing for, and the impossibility of going back to, ancestral roots.” *
To be human was to be a sentient being who remembers.*
“The third-century classic Jinshu summarized the paradox of memory: ‘Qing you yi sheng, bu yi ze wu qing.’ No words in English can capture the condensed reservations expressed in nine simple characters. The first four summarize ancient psychology: emotion is born out of remembrance. The next five advise the wise to stem this process of arousal altogether: where there is no remembrance, emotion will dissolve as well. The point, simply put, is that distress causes memory. To be sure, it is human to have feelings, but this can be curbed by a willful quieting of the emotional upheaval caused by remembrance.
“Simcha, the Hebrew word for ‘joy,’ has as its root macha, meaning ‘to remove’ or ‘wipe away.’ To be joyful, in this sense, is to be free of the tearful weight of the past.
“In the end, however, neither Chinese or Jewish rememberers settled for the peace of a memoryless world.
“The opposite of quietude can be found in the story of Lot’s wife… Here, a woman who refuses to walk away from history is turned into salt–a concrete symbol of endless weeping. Lot’s wife captures the need to remain connected to the past and dares to stand still when the known world is about to crumble. Although some might argue that Lot’s wife looked back with nostalgic regret for past pleasures, Anna Akhmatova, in the poem, ‘Lot’s Wife,’ suggest she did so out of her refusal to become deaf to the grief embedded in the past.”*
Metaphor ferries memory across time. It allows us to enter worlds of imagination and feeling that might otherwise be closed to us …
… memory can take refuge in silence…*
The rememberer … is a person who defies the natural laws of decay, one who makes of the heart a more hospitable ground for traces of the past… The rememberer might also be a lonely rebel against the passage of time. To resist the erasers occasioned by this passage, memories have to be written down.
Although yi (memory) brings up unsettling emotions, and simcha (joy) depends on wiping away old aches, remembrance remains the only way not to betray the past.
“Reachable, near and not lost, those remained amid the losses this one thing: language.
“It, the language remained, not lost, yes in spite of everything. But it had to pass through its wounded wordlessness, pass through frightful muting, pass through the thousand darknesses of deathbringing speech. It passed through and giveback no words for that which happened.” ~Paul Celan* (cited: V. Schwarcz, Bridge Across Broken Time p. 85)
*Poet, translator, essayist, and lecturer, influenced by French Surrealism and Symbolism. Celan was born in Cernăuţi, at the time Romania, now Ukraine, he lived in France, and wrote in German. His parents were killed in the Holocaust; the author himself escaped death by working in a Nazi labor camp. “Death is a Master from Germany”, Celan’s most quoted words, translated into English in different ways, are from the poem ‘Todesfuge’ (Death Fugue). Celan’s body was found in the Seine river in late April 1970, he had committed suicide.
November is about Thanksgiving, a celebration within the United States in which people gather around a table of abundance and give thanks (or not) before engaging in one of the seven sins…gluttony.
“The Tibetan Wheel of Suffering illustrates how our psychological patterns — our unconscious drives and needs, impulsive and reactive responses, learned and conditioned habits, and obsessions and compulsions – serve to keep us locked in self-defeating or misguided mental formations.
“Within the lower section of the wheel is the realm of the hungry ghost…beings with long, extremely slender necks, needle mouths, and bloated stomachs. They are characterized by their infinite emptiness and eternal starvation that drives addictive and compulsive behaviors. When they do obtain what they crave, their achieved desires turn into swords and knives in their bellies. Their unfulfilled longings and cravings torture them through unending grief, rejection, bargaining, and anger. They remain insatiably obsessed with the fantasy of achieving complete release from their past. Their efforts to undo the past remain unproductive as they layer past memories onto the present and thus respond to present occurrences as if they were suddenly transported into their past. While they are aware of the suffering within their misery, they are unaware of how their confusion and delusion comes from their transpositions and subsequent mistaken attributions.
“Introduced in this realm is a bodhisattva holding a bowl filled with spiritual nourishment. These spiritual morsels: grace, faith, mindfulness, centeredness, compassion, loving-kindness, and equanimity, all contain the nutrients of wisdom to ease their torments.” ~B Koeford
contemplative photography – seeing space
Gratitude is a spiritual morsel that awakens us from being overwhelmed in the darkness of resentment to the spontaneous and wondrous moments gifted us through nature’s grace.
“When others make us angry at them–at their shamelessness, injustice, inconsideration–they exercise power over us, they proliferate and gnaw at our soul, then anger is like a white-hot poison that corrodes all mild, noble, and balanced feelings and robs us of sleep. Sleepless, we turn on the light and are angry at the anger that has lodged like a succubus who sucks us dry and debilitates us. We are not only furious at the damage, but also that it develops in us all by itself, for while we sit on the edge of the bed with aching temples, the distant catalyst remains untouched by the corrosive force of the anger the eats at us. On the empty internal stage bathed in the harsh light of mute rage, we perform all by ourselves a drama with shadow figures and shadow words we hurl against enemies in helpless range… And the greater our despair that it is only a shadow play and not a real discussion with the possibility of hurting the other and producing a balance of suffering, the wilder the poisonous shadows dance and haunt us even in the darkest catacombs our dreams. (We will turn the tables, we think grimly, and all night long forge words that will produce in the other the effect of a fire bombs that now he will be the one with the flames of indignation raging inside while we, sooth by schadenfreude, will drink our coffee in cheerful calm.)
What could it mean to deal appropriately with anger? We really do’t want to be soulless creatures who remain thoroughly indifferent to what they come across, creatures who appraisals consist only of cool, anemic judgments and nothing can shake them up because nothing really bothers them. Therefore, we can’t seriously wish not to know the experience of anger and instead persist in an equanimity that wouldn’t be distinguished from tedious insensibility. Anger also teaches something about who we are. Therefore this what I ‘d like to know: What can it mean to train ourselves in anger and imagine that we take advance of its knowledge without being addicted to its poison?
We can be sure that we will hold on to the deathbed a part of the last balance sheet–and this part will taste bitter as cyanide–that we have wasted too much, much too much strength and time on getting angry and getting even with other in a helpless shadow theater, which only we, who suffered in impotently, knew anything about. Why did our parents, teachers and other instructors…Not give us in this case any compass that could have helped us avoid wasting our soul on useless, self-destructive anger.” ~Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon (pp.377-378)