Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memories of Oregon. . . Revisited

The weather has been awful with rain, freezing temperatures, and hail. No choice but to stay inside warm and toasty. So, in preparation of posts about Travels with Shermie, I’ve been reading my travel journals and got a shock, not a surprise but a shock! Do we have selective memory and recall only the good times? It seems as if we shrug away sombre memories relegating them to a foggy zone over which only bright images are superimposed and spring to mind as we recall days gone by.

The travels that I recall with fondness are not reflected in my diaries! For instance, that day in Oregon when the most amazing double rainbow graced the sky; that memory is indelibly etched in my mind. The rain droplets shone like so many diamonds on the tree leaves, on the grass, even on the picnic table. And I took it as a good omen. Yet my journals report only the rain pelting down, the gray, almost black skies, the cold seeping through every pore of my body. And the mud.

In my mind’s eye appear my two dogs, Buddy the tall red Doberman, and Mandi the small dirty blonde Lhasapoo, playing ecstatically on the tall dunes of the beach, having the time of their life. Yet my journal notes are about the German tourists who exclaimed, “Tiere?” (animals?) as they watched the dogs exit Shermie, then queried me about traveling alone, astonishment slowly giving way to clear disapproval as they shook their head, silently walking away from the van.

I have to ask myself, was I naively oblivious to the realities of traveling alone given the uncertainties of the road and the definite restrictions of a shoestring budget? My answer to this is “Hope springs eternal…”, as declared in Alexander Pope’s poem. It’s been so often repeated that it’s risking a cliché. But there has to be a bit of truth to all those truisms, otherwise they wouldn’t be used again and again to immediately conjure up an image in everyone’s mind.

I may have recorded the mishaps, yet my memories are of fellow travelers’ generosity of spirit and help in dire circumstances. And creativity, ingenuousness in my making do without the big bucks. So, yes, I do revisit memories. Just as I’m sure everyone does or else we would never dare embark on adventures that in the end, will have fostered personal growth and made life worth living. The tragedy is not in the dying, but in the dying without having truly lived.

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