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July 4th Memories Soar Like Rockets
“Be the Lewis and Clarke of your own streams and oceans; explore your own high latitudes ... Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels of thought.” --- Walden, Henry David Thoreau
Eek! It seems that it was Christmas only a couple of weeks ago, and here we are already at July 4! Each holiday triggers reruns of the mental disks where my memories are stored. In my mind's eye and ear I see and hear the faces and voices of my past. I'm going to make a little foray into the geography of my internal being.
"I yam what I yam!" said Popeye, the cartoon character. "I think, therefore I am," the philosopher, Descartes, wrote. The crux is to find a balance between those two.
The boundaries of my time zones - past, present and future - are blurred so that I can easily travel back and forth between them whenever I choose: I need no reservations, passport, tickets or suitcases to visit the realms of thought. My mind is a mini nation, an independent state, whose only language is "Rose Mary speak" and of which I am the only citizen and sole proprietor.
The memories recorded on the internal video of my past are overlaid with a golden patina brushed on by the distance of time. My life has consisted more of little moments than major events: As in a symphony, it has minor, quiet, yet lovely melodies more frequently than grand, crashing crescendos.
July 4th reruns: I'm with my parents and brother Earl's family out at Morton Memorial, watching the fireworks. "Ooh! ... Ah! ... " the children cry. Fast forward: Here Bill and I are with Bill's mother and various Clarkes at the family cottage at Camp Lake north of Grand Rapids. I'm rudely awakened during a snooze when my brother-in-law, Bill Drubert, tosses firecrackers under the sleeping porch: "Blam! Blam! Blam!"
1976: Bill has painted an American flag on the wall of our summerhouse. Vicki and we attend a celebration at the Irvington Methodist Church where Dr. Ballard reads the Declaration. Later we sit on the grass at a downtown park with a hundred thousand people and listen to various groups perform. When darkness falls they shoot fireworks from the top of a bank tower. "Ooh! ... Ah! ..." the children cry.
In other years we park on a street near the downtown. Vicki and her chum, Sheila, recline on the hood of the car. "Ooh! ... Ah! ...” they cry. When we come home they prance around, waving sparklers ... so long ago ... so long ago.
The celebration in Washington, D.C: four years ago is the best. Our twin grandsons and we join the throng at the National Archives where actors portray the Founders and read from the Declaration and the Constitution. Then we enter a long line to move past the documents that resulted from bold, new thinking. That evening we sit on the steps of the Capitol, part of a huge crowd that stretches from the Capitol on past the Washington Monument and watch a concert and fireworks. "Ooh! ... Ah! ..." the children cry. I think about the diversity -- yet togetherness -- of the American people.
July 4, 2008: We shall be at a family reunion at the summer home of the California Clarkes in Michigan. There will be glasses raised, fond memories of those who are no longer with us and Esther's potato salad or barbecued hot dogs. And children will cry, "Ooh! ... Ah! ..." when they shoot off fireworks.
My upbringing, education, life experiences and observation of the world around me have left an indelible imprint on the basic "me" so that I am what I am. However, the ability to think -- to adapt and to ponder new ideas -- also makes me what I am. As I grow in years, I do hope that I can resist being negative. I want to grow in spirit and understanding and travel down new channels of thought, rather than becoming trapped, like a fossil, in the strata of the past. The old, familiar tunes are sweet, but I want to graft new melodies and verses onto them.
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