Nov 28, 2012

Remembrance of Times Past

I have this theory that I can't put into words- which yes, makes it a little ironic to write about- that our minds have associations with places.

Maybe it's not my own theory but a known psychological phenomena, I don't know.  But if it is, I've never heard anyone talk about it.

I went to this camp on Lake Erie, in Pennsylvania, when I was growing up. Every August, we'd pack up the car and go to Camp Lambec for a week.  That's it in the first picture.  Dirt roads.  Thin-walled cabins.  And, as I remember it, paradise.  But the thing that interests me is that I walk through it constantly in my thoughts in my present life.  Did I have friends there?  Yes, and I've tried to find some of them on Facebook.  But somehow that doesn't seem to be precisely what I'm searching for.

I dream about the place.  Not the people so much as the place itself.  What does this mean about me?  Is it a  symbol of a more innocent time?  Has it become my touchstone for remembering my birthplace, rather than my actual hometown?

Some of it comes from the songs I use to sing my daughter to sleep at night.  Two of them, "Pass It On" & "Kumbaya", I learned at this camp and closely associate it with them.  Since they've become popular favorites for her, perhaps that explains this one instance of remembrance.  And since I've mentioned it, here's a photo I found of the place I remember singing those songs most often.

This might explain Camp Lambec, but will someone explain the other instances of this Remembrance?  For instance, whenever I think about the tubing that makes up the bicycles I enjoy so much, I think about my Great Uncle Bob's backyard.  He had a huge train diorama in the basement, and my mother tells me he invented the rotary lawnmower.  I barely even remember the backyard, and I'm not sure I'm recreating it accurately.  Yet still, the picture comes into my mind every time I read about tubing.

Why do our minds latch onto these places?  Is this a sign that I'm some sort of visual learner?  That I'm tied to place more closely than other people?

And yet other seemingly obvious connections don't seem to be applicable.  I don't think about the spot where my wife and I got engaged whenever I think of my love for her. I don't think about the operating room where I first saw my daughter when I think about her.

I also associate books with the place I first read them.  I cannot even see the title of Bill Bryson's Notes From A Small Island without thinking of the bench in front of the Ipswich Library where I sat and started reading it.  And Bryson in general reminds me of a coffee shop in downtown Boston that I can't even remember the name of, but can picture at this very moment.  Why?

Back to Camp Lambec.  Is it because we were always on vacation when we went there?  Or the bike rides to the candy store up the street that were my first real bike rides to any sort of destination?  Has that made it a sort of wonderland wherein you don't work- only play?  And why did my mind wander around and around Lambec as I read The Shack?  Did the book introduce a view of God that I'd not heard since those summers at that camp?  Or was it simple association between thoughts?

"We thought that we had the answers- it was the questions we had wrong..."-U2

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