Since I’m working on packing an entire house over the next few weeks, I keep running across little memories of the lives I’ve lived through the past. Yes. Lives. As in plural. I see my life sectioned off into pieces. My early years, prior to my joining the United States Air Force. My time within the Air Force. My life immediately following the Air Force. My life after the turn of the century. Each of those four segmented time frames constitute a different period of my life, as in the way I was living my life. My approach to daily life has been different in each of those periods, which makes it have the feeling of geological period.
I find it somewhat odd and appropriate that I am going through these thoughts on a Memorial Day weekend. Sincerely, I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. The eight years I handed to the Air Force represent some kind of respect from people I don’t know. Every year around Memorial Day and Veterans Day, I hear the platitudes of “thank you for your service.” I cringe every single time I hear this statement, whether its directed at me or not. It’s a platitude I can sincerely do without. Memorial Day weekend is meant to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to the country – providing their lives in defense of the very freedoms we all enjoy. As a living veteran, I get a little sensitive when I get the seemingly empty “thank you” placed in my direction. In the past, I used to snap at people – telling them not to thank me for anything. Or telling them that the best way to thank me was to have their kids enlist into military service. Over time, I’ve learned to mellow that reaction for a bit. Its certainly unhelpful when you’re snapping at a small kid who has been taught that they are just being patriotic for doing so. Or cracking back on an individual who just lost their loved one, who was protecting the country. Sometimes, its better to just quietly nod than it is to crack back over a political perspective.
In pulling through my cluttered memories and trying to find an appropriate cardboard container for these to move six hours northeast on the nation’s interstate system, I’ve had moments of my life crash through my mind. My ribbon cluster reminded me of sitting on the floor of Melissa’s kitchen with her husband Tim. He and I had been drinking and were reaching up to her spice rack on the wall. We would pull down a container of spice, open it up, and pour a little spice on our open palm and taste it. We would then comment on its taste and off it to the other. When done, we would set the open spice container on the floor and reach up for another. When Melissa came home, she found the two of us laughing hysterically on the kitchen floor with spices covering the white linoleum floor.
Over the years, we’ve lost touch with one another, and linked back up time and again. Our kitchen escapade took place back in 1993…a time frame that was different for both of us. Over the years, we’ve lost touch with one another a few times, only to touch base time and again. But we’ve both changed over the years. That magick “click” that we had has been long gone – now a memory that burns bright in the rearview mirror of life. Life has continued, evolved, altered and become what it is now.
In the second Hunger Games movie, during the victory tour, Peeta makes a comment at the first stop in District Eleven. He notes that “Our lives aren’t just measured in years. They’re measured in the lives of people we touch around us.” This quote isn’t lost on me. So many people have come and gone in my life. Some have had a profound and lasting meaning in my life. Joni, my first High Priestess, and Mary – my second – had the most profound impact on my life as a Pagan. Both are Wiccan. Both were behind me, pushing me towards what I could be…believers in my ability to note only be a Pagan, but also to be a leader. What I have become is probably nothing close to what they have envisioned. But I would never have gotten here without either of them.
I know much of this feels like I am just rambling on and on, but in my mind its not just dashing from point to point. There’s a connection between all of it. I’m probably conveying this sentiment very badly. So hopefully, its got a degree of coherence that is understandable.
I squirm and twist whenever I hear the labels of “leader”, “priest”, or “elder” applied to me. That’s because I never feel that I am worthy of such application. Nor do I want to be responsible for the growth and belief of another through these descriptive concepts. I’m well aware of how all of these words (and more) can differ from person to person. I know what these mean in application to myself by me. I understand the concepts and responsibilities that these impart upon myself as defined within my own personal paradigm. I know what these meant when applied to Joni or to Mary. So, in a manner of speaking, I strive not to compete with my memories of them. Which is probably a bit unfair, since my memories of who they were in those roles is quite likely not correct or complete.
Humph. I can feel myself smirking under those thoughts. I spend my time fighting memories of others. Many of whom have slipped back into the past, where the sting of today is lessened by the passage of time. I started this blog post thinking about how all these people have had their own impact in my life. How these memories have come bubbling to the surface while I am packing my home to move to a new location here in the United States. The proximity of this new location to the graves of my deceased parents remains a lodestone that I will eventually need to deal with – a hurricane of emotions that I’ve always had placed neatly to the side. Memories that I need to figure out how to work through. Memories that will lead me down other trails with DNA relatives…trails I am not sure I am ready to rip the long-healed scabs off of. All because I am placing items into cardboard boxes. Life can be funny in that way….