Threading Our Way toward Wholeness by Writing

You Can't Go Home Again

You Can’t Go Home Again

Reflective Writing: Reflective writing is a conduit for memory. One prime stimulus for eliciting memories for reflection is returning to a location where we have spent time in the past. Twice I have returned to live in an area where I lived previously. The first time, ironically, I was returning to a community just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, the town that author Thomas Wolfe made famous in his novel, You Can’t Go Home Again.

Walking in the Past: I did go home again and wandered the streets of Asheville with one foot in the 1990s and the other in the 1950s. Walking up Patton Avenue toward Pack Square, I saw the Woolworths five and dime store where my mother used to treat my sister and me to a club sandwich with a fountain coke on rare shopping trips into town. I was pleased to discover that this wonderful Art Deco building still graces the avenue. On the other side of Patton Avenue, I could feel the old Imperial movie theater where I had watched endless movies as a child. Now, that space is a parking lot, nicely landscaped, but still just a parking lot. My younger self, however, still hovers somewhere int hat space, eating popcorn and watching Doris Day films, among the parked cars and trimmed shrubs.

Manifold Timeframes: The two timeframes were superimposed on one another and hard to disentangle. Walking this avenue in the 1990s, I found myself remembering a particular day shopping with my mother (in the days before the Civil Rights Act) and begging her to let me drink from the Colored water fountain. She agreed, and I trotted over to take a drink. I must have had a strange look on my face when I turned around because she asked me what was wrong. In a voice I know reflected disappointment and, perhaps, some childish aggrievement, I responded: “The water isn’t colored; it’s just plain water.” The childlike literal take on the sign’s message reveals the underlying dissonance of such signs from that time. the dissonance of that sign affects me still when I remember the moment.

Wholeness of Experience: These experiences—both walking up Patton in the 1950s and again in the 1990s, plus now writing about these memories in the 2010s—these experiences are all alive in my memory. My experience is manifold; it is layered and complex. Each memory creates its own meaning and each added layer of memory creates more layers of meaning, and all the memories coming together create yet another wholeness. Writing is my means of threading my way through to the wholeness of experience. I’m reminded of Ariadne’s thread (in one version of that Greek myth) that she leave for Theseus in the labyrinth so he can find his way past the Minotaur and come out of the labyrinth safely. I am both Ariadne and Theseus (they were half-brother and sister), following the thread that I have left myself in my own labyrinth of memory.

Magic Reflection: Writing is a helpful and creative skill. Word by word, we weave our way to greater meaning and understanding, following the thread of our experiences, our memories, our insights. One magic of reflective writing is that it can conflate time frames: the disparate events flow together and we are able to understand them in the context of one another. We weave our way forward toward a newer level of understanding, hopefully toward a larger wholeness than we began.

Happily, I take up the thread again and again as I write. In this response, I hear an echo of one of Maharishi’s favorite aphorisms from the Bhagavad Gita.

“Curving back upon My own Nature, I create again and again—creation and administration of creation both are a natural phenomenon on the basis of my self-referral consciousness.” (Bhagavad Gita 9.8)

Reference:

“Ariadne.” Encyclopedia Mythica. Retrieved January 17, 2011 from http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/ariadne.html

The Gita quotation from Tom Egenes’ test for his class on Vedic Expressions.

For further discussio, read about self-referral consciousness in the following:

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation and Commentary, Chapters 1–6. Fairfield, IA: MIU Press, 1976 (1967).

Images:

Wolfe, T. You Can’t Go Home Again, book cover retrieved from amazon.com 10.11.12

“Woolworth Store.” Retrieved from http://www.woolworthwalk.com 10.11.12

Tracing the Blueberry Path

Luscious Blueberries

Luscious Blueberries

Directionality. Reflective writing does allow us to look inward, backward, around, and forward, feeling for connections, resonance, parallels, even incongruity among our own thoughts. These subtleties of pattern and signification are what help us develop meaning. We swallow blueberry juice from a glass and the taste carries us into the past: we remember standing in a woods, eating plump, juicy blueberries from a bush. We immediately understand the directionality of our reflections–from taste in the present to memories from the past of taste and of place. We are relating the present with the past through sensory resonance—the taste of blueberry juice and the taste of blueberries picked straight from the bush connect in our awareness. That resonance of taste creates meaning that has significance for us.

Choices. When we write reflectively, we can write beginning with directionality or write beginning with the resonance that connections create. The lack of constraints in reflective writing allow us to explore any approach, knowing either the directionality of our thoughts or the resonance of our thoughts may lead to further connections.. We can enjoy how our mind wanders. Thinking about the blueberry bushes from our childhood may lead us to other memories from the past, so for a while, we follow that directionality. We think about the path those bushes sat beside, where the path led, and why we were walking on it. We follow this pathway into the past as long as we are charmed by our thoughts. When the charm lessens, our thoughts may turn in another direction.

Resonance. We can pursue the resonance for a while, watching how meaning shapes itself. Why is the taste of blueberries important to us? We ramble around in our thoughts, pursuing that question for a while. We can follow our thoughts about blueberries into the present. We may find our signicance there, or we may turn to research to look for more meaning for the role of blueberries in our lives. The impetus for our meandering among our thoughts may run out. We may feel we have exhausted all we have to say about blueberries. We have traced the blueberry path as far as it will go for now.

Reflective Ramble. What have we learned? Blueberries are important to us for their taste (sensory experience), for their connection to appealing memories in our past (emotional experience), for the healthful benefits that have been recently discovered (physical experience), and as a vehicle down the writing path (intellectual experience). These benefits are rich, indeed, all for just a morning’s reflective ramble through our thoughts.

Image:

Royalty Free Stock Photo: Blueberries in a wicker tray on a blackboard

ID 21188785 © Rezkrr | Dreamstime.com

Pausing for Blueberry Reflections

Luscious Blueberries

Luscious Blueberries

Luscious: Blueberries are luscious. for me, no other word so aptly describes the taste of this darkling blue berry. Luscious. I have always loved these small, glorious berries. I discovered in the wild when I was about eight. I lived in the mountain of North Carolina, in walking distance of my school and church if I cut through the woods behind my house. These woods were an old-growth forest of Southern stalwarts—pines, hickories, oaks, males, and magnolias, edged by bushes and ferns.

Into the Woods: We lived on a well traveled road on one side of these woods. Through these woods ran a well-worn path lined by understory bushes, including sassafras, hollies, and two small but mature blueberry bushes. I admired the mitten-shaped leaves of the sassafras bushes, often stopping to hold my hand up to a leaf to see if it would fit, but loved the fruit of the blueberry bushes.

The Path: In warmer weather, I was allowed to walk home from school or church through these woods as long as I walked with my older sister or a friend who lived nearby. On occasion, I managed to follow the path alone. The blueberry bushes were my friends. I stopped picked the biggest berries, the sweetest ones, and left the smaller ones to grow. Well, in the interest of complete honesty, I wasn’t acting sustainably at that young age; I had just learned the hard way that the smaller berries were sour.

The Memory: Why am I thinking about blueberries? Blame it on current trends. Blueberries have been in the news for months now as one of the “new” superfoods These berries, native to North America and food staple for Native Americans from long ago, are full of antioxidants and many other nutrients. I’m drawn to them for the taste, however. I eat them as a snack, in my morning oatmeal, for dessert with yogurt and honey, and occasionally in pies and muffins. My favorite, though, hands down, is simply blueberry juice.

The Juice: Those two blueberry bushes belong to my North Carolina childhood reflections, but I’m in Iowa now, so here I buy pure organic blueberry juice from the local whole foods store in Fairfield and drink a glass full almost every day. When I swallow that cool, delicious blue liquid, and is slides richly down my throat, every cell in my body says, “Thank you. Thank you.” Buying this juice is an expensive habit but I cannot do without it. Blueberries remain an alluring spot in my day.

Note: The following post traces the writing of this post.

 Image: blueberries on branch.dreamstime_xs_1499765681250