The Very First Few Strings Played...
In Creative Writing class we were volleyed this question:
What was your first memory?
Upon answering the question in my mind, I sat there in my seat pondering the thoughts of others as they too had to discover what in fact their earliest memory had been. After a few minutes, the teacher, Ms L, began calling on us individually of our first memories...
Martin Luther King Jr, in his speech "A Blueprint for your Life", proclaims that one of the key skills to leading a fulfilled life is "a deep belief in your own dignity". Commonly, the word 'idea' or 'think' is replaced with 'belief' when speaking to a religious crowd. The word "belief" resonates better with the audience, and it aids in getting them to see you—the speaker—as one of them—a person of religion. But here, in this one sentence, the word "belief" inherits a meaning even those who are non-religious can internalize. Martin Luther King Jr confronts us with the notion that we need to believe—not think, or perceive, or idly contemplate—BELIEVE the notion that we have dignity. A deep belief, that strikes us to the core of our being. A belief in the meaning of our existence—and later in his speech—the notion that we have not only the potential, but the responsibility to be great.
My memory was [you can tune out here if you dislike hearing about others' dreams] a dream. A dream I had that never repeated, but scared me so deep down that I was rattled in my little child's brain.
A witch pushed me, in a shopping cart, around my cul-de-sac. The shopping cart—much like any other metal one you'd find in a Kroger grocery store—was like an iron prison on wheels. Slowly, I was pushed from one end of the circle, with the gravel-ridden pavement crunching against the eerily squeaking wheels below, around part of the circle. And then I died . . . and she smiled. I don't remember her face, only that she was a witch, and she pushed me in a shopping cart.
I've waited long for a rainy day to be able to take a picture of the scene of the background. Here it is...
It terrified me. There were no monsters, or violence, or panic, or heights or spiders or destruction of democracy. The notion of death wasn't even scary. I was 4. I have no idea why I found it so terrifying.
Ms. L only asked 4 of us, and though I always feel inclined to respond to writing prompts like this, I found myself backing down from answering to my class my deep, unclear, terrifying first memory.
"Our first memory is, in one of the purest senses, the creation story in the great mythologies of our lives." That idea gives me solace, because my first memory is like a prayer to the person I want to become.
Three things—Heidegger believed—are destined to be true
- We have forgotten to notice we're alive
- We have forgotten that all Being is connected
- We forget to be free and live for ourselves
Our first memories are the very first few strings played in the prophetic song of our lives. In Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come"—the song at the top of this article you may have clicked without realizing I was going to put the explanation mid-way through the article—the introduction is a perfect beginning to a piece on change. The instruments that climb upwards are mostly comprised of strings, while the instruments that walk downwards are deeper in pitch. It creates a harmonized duality between multiple instruments that come into the piece individually on their own terms: happening to line up perfectly in time. After the lead-in, the bellowing of a drum rolls through you like it's shaking your bones. Once Cooke gets to the actual song, you've been primed into knowing the greatness of the verses that will follow. The verses hint at the chords coaxed from the beginning at odd times, enhancing and inflating Cooke's voice. Without the introduction (without the first 14 seconds), the song is still good, but it begins without momentum and direction. It has not the blueprints for us to marvel at, nor the thrust generated for us to appreciate the song soaring through the air, defying the gravities of fear with an equanimity and optimism we find in earlier later as well as modern generations of music.
I have forgotten to notice that I'm alive, because I've piled so much distraction onto my life that I get bored despite having the world at my fingertips. I've forgotten to be free by constructing a tight schedule to my life instead of constructing opportunities that would elicit energy and passion. I've contented myself with the dull whenever achieving greatness got a bit hard. And I've forgotten that all Being is connected. It's easier to hate our enemies instead of understand ourselves. It's easier to do things out of spite than out of belief in one's character. So far, I've gotten here off of luck, and I'm swinging from philosophical idea to great speeches around trees of ennui and over the pitfalls of depression. One day, I'm going to die, and I feel an almost desperate cry to create a branch for the next person to swing from.
I'm creating a new class for terms C and D of my junior year of high school. The course is entitled "Classical Reception", and I'm trepidatiously excited to get started. Firstly, the courses' schedule and syllabus is due tomorrow, and though I have everything in the world to talk about, I have not written down a scheduled plan. The next articles may come from that class, as it'll be the synthesized notions of others with the added benefit of my personal take . . . . so what I usually post here. ALSO! Since it's a class, I will still be writing outside of class, so hopefully it'll further add to my writing.
I have to mention this, because my essay would be ethically fucked up if I didn't. Heidegger was an anti-Semitic and supported Hitler. His actions and words reflected a culture of hatred, one that cultivated the destruction of other human beings in genocide for political expediency. He sucked, and doesn't deserve a spot in history, but nonetheless is widely quoted due to his philosophies furthering literary thought and becoming widely influential in the work of others. I hope that in saying this, I'm able to establish that his personal beliefs are dreadfully hate-filled. Omission of that fact would make me complacent to the anti-semitic beliefs he held, and that would be wrong.