Today I realised how much I have remembered.
I had paused, wondering what the years had brought, and piece by piece I recalled the many moments when my life came back to me.
Yet I had never realised I had forgotten who I was.
And as I held the pieces in my awareness I began to put them into order, for they had come to me like parts of a puzzle, quite out of sequence.
The first piece?
Well, my beginnings, the start of the story, has its first page before my own awareness of existing. None of us emerge from a vacuum do we? There is always someone or something that precedes us, without which we would not have emerged.
When that first sentence of my story came back to me it wrenched my heart to realise how much I have forgotten, and how much had been given to me unawares.
“In the beginning”… Those were the first words. They rose in my being as the knowledge of a huge ocean of awareness. Huge yet filling no space. Forever, yet consuming no time. And in the solvent of that ocean, a whole universe, with all its life and drama, was dissolved into the One. One, without another, alone. And in that aloneness a seething creative longing for others. For One, alone, could not be Two. So that great summary of uncountable lives and experience became the architect, the grand designer of its own death. A death to provide the opportunity for others to exist. Then, tearing asunder its being in the grandest of explosions, it fragmented into the particles of time, space, and opportunity.
And even now, as I remember this, I call out to my dead parent who left the seed of me in this universe, “My Darling! I love You!”
A seed! Well, more to the point a potential of my existence somewhere in time and space. But there was an immeasurable time when there was no focus to bring awareness of myself. And that was my next memory – things moving, acting, processing – each with its own intention – each with its own direction and quality.
Time and time and time, passing while things Became.
Yes, became – Something.
When that memory came I called myself the Swimmer. Unknown even to myself, I moved to music I did not hear, to a sea I did not know. Each movement a beat, each swift turn a passage in the flow of Life.
And that was the miracle we all share in our genesis. The tiny swimmer beating its tail, the egg floating in the primordial fluids.
As Life I have been the one note playing over and over, on and on until I found the next note, the next possibility, the next talent in dealing with the environment. That was how I had become the swimmer in the ancient waters.
On and on, emerging out of myself into different forms, different behaviours. But all the time holding in me the most primitive and the blazing possibility given by my Darling Love. Constantly unfolding.
Those memories were hard. The safe shell of my rough crafted identity was torn open again and again. The womb of my understanding was ripped in giving birth to the enormity of my past. The apparently solid ground of my beliefs, of what my elders had taught me to believe, was sundered by the earthquakes of immense slabs of memory bursting to the surface. The earth flowed like a river. The world of my life was changed for ever.
And the upswell of that deep interior self brought into remembrance great primeval fossils of experience that on surfacing gained renewed life in me. For I, like all else, grew from the soil of past life. My roots feed on the deep underground remains of past times, ancient peoples or behaviours, crumbled temples, loves and conflicts. And those same roots now feed on that past and lift it, forming today’s leaves and flowers.
So it was I knew again the still breath-less mind of the snake and lizard. I felt once more the soul of the howling wolf, in whose crying all feeling is submerged. I called as the moose and bear, bellowing my existence, shouting my strengths in glorious being. I remembered guarding my eggs, or giving my tits in panting satisfaction to my cubs. And as the animal I roared and mated, hunted and slept, learning the wisdom gathered over the millions of years till I, as Life, became man.
But first I met the cusp, the point of change. The memory of it came upon me one evening. My being, as dusk fell, slipped into that past, felt again the animal man the Life that lit me now once had been. And as that predecessor I crouched at the mouth of a cave, guarding, blowing out sound to tell the pack all was well, and to affirm the newness of the man in me – the strange knowing of self, like some peculiar creature that had possessed me and shaken me, the animal, awake – awake for the first time.
Then in silence this emergent selfhood lived in the world of sound – sounds of the night – sounds in every dimension and distance – sounds experienced living in space in such a way that I, the remember, have never heard before.
But suddenly one of the sounds suggested threat, and all the new knowing of self was lost in the re-emergence of the animal instinctive roar. That was the night watch.
The world and all things were fresh then. For we looked at all with the new-found self-awareness. Life had never seen the Earth through those eyes before, and there was so much wonder. I too, in those buried strata of myself, had walked into the cave and seen my woman with a baby in her arms. Seeing it for the first time, and fallen on my knees before her in awe and with tears. For there before me was a goddess of creation.
In that same way I knew all the races. I danced and shouted power as the black race. I stood over the animal trails as the red race, remembering their wisdom of the hunt and dream. I sat in the mystery of knowing the void as the yellow race, and discovered the torture and madness of the white. I am a river that flowed through all time, knowing life from the beginning, in all forms – plant, animal, human, male and female.
And today, after all that, here I stand, the sum total of an incredible journey, looking out the window of my small house. I see the jackdaws flying across the still green trees as I eat my breakfast. I scrawl these words to remind myself of that long life we have all lived, and which I have had the pain and privilege of remembering, and in great peace ask the question – What next?
Copyright ©2005 Tony Crisp