Marvin Repinski: They can’t take away memories

Published 5:12 pm Friday, May 6, 2022

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“I am the root and offspring of David; the bright and morning star.  (the Bible, Revelation 22:6).

One item in our lives that we cannot get away from is memory; recalling the past is both a joy and a sadness.  We live, of course, today, but we also live in the worlds of many years.  Depending, of course, on the years of health, alertness of a relative mental function and curiosity.

The years that we are allowed to live vary for every human being. In them, we may pile up stacks of memories.  I, like most people, both delight in and wish some memories would be forgotten that are still like sharp knives. How shall we respond to the past, to whom we recall having been? 

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Under several themes I will briefly explore some responses to memory.

ONE: We bring to the past that which often pesters us. The darker side of our mental well-being that turns to regret.  And often that may be horrifying behavior that we are still trying to amend.  I’m thinking of the Shakespeare play “Hamlet” and the manner that this character suffers through periods of the darkness of his soul; his missteps.

TWO: Something I will never forget — I clutch many experiences that put me in dreamland!  These I call “precious moments” that when turned over in our minds, bring back the original exhilaration. Forgetting is a kind of paradox; I hang onto memories, but I try to discipline my thinking to sing a song to those events and persons I cherish. A teacher I had in sociology class at Augsburg College, Professor Torstenson, was a rare beautiful and intelligent man; he exuded warmth with communication skills.  After attending that school, I returned to his office.  He offered me a gentle friendship.  My suggestion to you:  Dig out and update your best memories of a special teacher or mentor!

THREE: In a chosen time of solace, isolate the best parts of memory.

A book that I recommend is “This Is Happiness” by Niall Williams.  The 380 pages may take up some of your vacation time or lunch breaks; but you will travel many paths of self-discovery, and take a spiritual walk mixed with today’s opportunities.

In regard to times past, I am in agreement in the reference to the author’s friend, Hauie Ryan. “At fifty-two, he believed his parts had become fused by rust, the oil to free them not invented until he met Marie Costello.  A new life was created for him.  And the added reminiscence of a neighbor, Jack Dunne, who lived with a “convex irony in creation, because up close all the things he most disliked about his wife, Sheila, when she was living, were the things he missed most when she was dead.”

How beautiful it is to retrieve the “good stuff” rather than the “down times” of having lived.  For instance, in a marriage that was full of the everyday events of an ordinary life together, recall those grace-filled times that helped the sun come up!

FOUR: When a bench plane turns to your father’s vocation.  The article, “The Memory of Clay” in the May issue of “The Sun” magazine, is a lesson in how we treat what is recalled. Quoting Bruce Ballengenger, “Yesterday, hidden behind two circular saws — cases on a deep shelf under my workbench, I found my father’s bench plane, the tool he used for smoothing and straightening wood.  It was in sorry shape.  It’s an old story that a boy grows up to measure himself against his father.  What does a son do with his father’s life forty-six years after his death?”

The granddaughter, Julia, a ceramicist, tells of making clay pieces in the image of an upright figure.  Julia, in this essay, states “raw unformed clay yields only reluctantly to the potter’s will -— it typically remembers the first shape it was forced to assume —memories of my father are stubbornly pressed too.”

Knowledge, insight, and application seem to live in our bones, our desire to make things, and to carry on our ancestors’ professions, vocations, and interests.  That is, from my observation, part of the creation of memory.  We are all in the act of building or creating something. 

I missed the Sunday concert, then I remembered another time of music would be on Monday.  Can we not agree, memory is indispensable?

George Bernard Shaw has written:  “The pianoforte is the most perfect of all musical instruments.  It’s invention was to music what the invention of printing was to poetry.”  And all the variations of this miracle had many evolutions.  We heard on May 2 in Knowlton Auditorium in Austin, what a genius can do with a piano.

The guest of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Marc-Andre Hamelin, revealed what a musician can accomplish with seeming impossible fingering of many keys, but with only ten fingers!

May I say the performance of the Sergei S. Prokofiev’s “Sarcasms,”  was amazing? This number again in these days of war, points our attention to Ukraine, his birth in 1891 and he died in Moscow in 1953.