Monthly Essays

Rewinding

Technology has led me astray.

Yesterday I was walking my neighborhood route, headed down the deserted hill near the 90-degree curve to 36th Street, when a big black bird flew close overhead, cawing like he was talking to me. He materialized out of nowhere, just magically appeared. I missed which tree he flew from, and for a nanosecond I thought I could rewind the moment and observe his earlier movements.

If I miss a line on a TV show, I just touch a button and I can see and hear it again. If I want to write down the exact words that Neil Armstrong said as he stepped on the moon, I just Google it and find a YouTube clip. If I want to hear a particular song, I just say, “Hey Siri, play…”

Many times I recall the exact place and feeling I had when I heard a song. When I hear My Girl by The Temptations, I remember the queen’s dance at the Crowder College Roughrider’s Ball at the old Teledyne Center in Neosho. I wore a pastel green gown my mom had made for me. I thought life couldn’t get any better than this. Spoiler alert: It did.

The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles takes me back to the basement of Mullins Library at the U of A where I was reading microfilm of the 1863 London Times, taking notes for my thesis. I don’t know why there was music in that windowless room in the library, but it sure beat the scratchy sound of film rolling through the readers. I felt then a bit of despair that I would not finish my thesis before I needed to leave Fayetteville for a full-time job. My road was two years long and wound to Oklahoma City to Denver to Tulsa before I finished evenings of researching and writing, painstakingly typing with footnotes and carbon, and defending my thesis. A long and winding road, indeed.

When I hear Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days, I’m transported to sweeping our screened-in porch and listening to a roofer on a house nearby turning up his radio and belting out the words with the Boss. The worker’s off-key singing was joyful as he sweated shirtless in the sun high on that roof. That song always makes me smile no matter if I’m mopping the kitchen floor or swatting mosquitoes as I wrestle the hedge clippers. That danceable rhythm reminds me that chores can be turned into fun by attitude.

But recall and rewind are different things.

I cannot rewind a moment I missed in life. I can’t see where that crow flew from; I can see only where he landed.

In past days did I pay more attention to my surroundings and that’s why I can recall a memory?

Oh, I suspect I’ll remember yesterday’s walk and the crow flying close to me even without a song to trigger the memory and emotion. But I’m thinking I should be more mindful of life as I live it. I certainly can’t rewind it to see the parts I missed.

 

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