Maybe you can remember your parents hollering at you to “SIT STILL!!” I sure can. As kids, we were in constant motion. Whirring about even if seated.
No time to waste, we got to move!
It took a massive amount of energy just to hold all the body parts in place. And if the body was mostly stationary, then our mouths were constantly running. And our minds.
. . . pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process, pause, break, interval, interruption, suspension, intermission, interlude, gap, lacuna, lull, respite, breathing space, time out, recess . . .
I don’t remember where I heard this expression. Or perhaps I never did. It may have sprung into the recesses of my mind. From a dream. A whisper from the wind. An echo from the stars. But I use it sparingly. With depth of heart. For it holds several meanings to me.
“You’re always welcome at my campfire.”
I’ve been writing about that urge to roam. To travel freely. Unencumbered. To experience the world through the lens of constant motion.
My first post in this series introduced the terms “Dromomania” and “Drapetomania,” which placed this desire squarely in the medical model for disease. The word “disease” itself has been defined as: “a condition of the living animal or plant body, or of one of its parts, that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms” that is “not simply a direct result of physical injury.” A disease has also been said to be “a particular quality, habit, or disposition regarded as adversely affecting a person or group of people.”*
And there are four main types of disease: infectious, deficiency, hereditary, and physiological diseases. Diseases can be communicable or non-communicable, and when we have absolutely no idea what causes one, we call it “idiopathic.”
And let’s not forget mental or psychogenic diseases.
In fact, the suffix “mania,” in dromomania and drapetomania, arguably places the old terminology squarely in that category of mental illness.
So, is the compulsion to flee, to explore, to wander the world, a mental disorder? And what are those so-afflicted fleeing from?
Picking up where I left off yesterday . . .
We’ve all heard the stories of Cortez conquering the Aztecs and Pizzaro conquering the Incas, but we often only hear the stories of those who are regarded as conquerors. The victors. Even if their acts were entirely atrocious and inhumane.
History is distorted that way.
Storms don’t exactly sneak up on you in the Midwest. Unless you’re sleeping.
They hem and haw. Fronts drift in. Stagnate. Advance. Stall. Pick up again. Sort of unfold in slow-mo.
Certainly not like the Thunder Boomers out West.
Although we do get that occasional freight train. Those tornadic, counter-clockwise winds that sweep in so fast no one can prepare. In fact, if you witness them, it is sort of hypnotizing. Like a snake hypnotizes its prey.
For the average storm here, the wind picks up, the temperature drops, and sometimes, you can see that clearly demarcated line of clouds advancing. That gray-blue, dark-clouded front-line meeting clear, blue sky, perhaps with its wisps of white cirrus clouds. But it’s when the temperature drops that you really know it’s about to hit.
Along with that unmistakable fragrance that suddenly permeates the atmosphere.
I read a post a couple of days ago stating that the difference between humans and other animals was the ability of humans to tell stories. And that this ability is what has led to discoveries, inventions (good and bad), art, poetry, war, etc.
Of course, I believe other species have their own way of telling stories. 🙂
Stories have been said to create a special niche where we love to reside. Fictional worlds that fill our minds, the majority of the time for some of us, with a central plot-line of underlying “conflict.” There are generally dark forces to overcome, battles to be won or lost, struggles that define the protagonists, to whom we relate ourselves.
It is us that mirrors back as being the heroine or hero. Whether defeated or exalted.
Last night, I tried posting this pic from the WP app on my phone. I had a bit of trouble but I think it did finally come through and I hope you’ve liked it.
Took this one off the back porch with a 400mm zoom lens and cropped it to enlarge it more.
The phone app doesn’t allow you to post a feature pic, and now that I’m back on the lap top, I’m making a few edits. I’ve also tried WP’s new editor with this one. Can’t say that I like it.
Have a wonderful Sunday!
Revisiting the past seems to cycle in our lives. If not physically, mentally. But it seems there are times when the physical odyssey is unavoidable. It may even be unconscious at first. We embark on a journey just to realize midway we are circling back in time. Perceptions have shifted, aged, but we are retracing routes gone by. “Treading trodden trails,” as the saying goes. Neural roadmaps. Highways of memories. Echoes of day dreams.
The roads might be slightly different. And the faces we see this time around may be new to us, drawn together, in passing, by a transitional event. In this case, it was my mother’s final breaths.
I saw the parallels as I was driving by the home where myself and my brothers grew up. A small town now a burgeoning suburb of a major city. When the family moved there, the population was around 250, plus a lot of corn fields. When I left, there were little more than 2500 people. It’s no longer a rural community and the population has passed 30,000. The corn fields replaced with structures. More boxes for storage, of categorized life.
My old home is now a dental office with the yard paved over. A parking lot for tooth repair. The vacant lot across the street, a playland of the imagination where mythic battles raged in the jungles of weeds, now a motor bank. The majestic apricot tree on the corner by the park, gone. Not even a seed to carry its memory of the sweet fruit it offered free for the taking. The lake we fished in, fenced off, imprisoned.
The historic downtown, an outward reflection, a mimic of time, but the core has transformed. The library is office space. The hardware store, an art gallery. The feed mill, a microbrewery. The old school is torn down. Time and places evaporated.
But all of my memories are intact. The pleasure and the pain of growth.
Every summer this home was a launch point for the family reunions. First with my dad’s family in Indiana, and then my mom’s in Michigan. Those were times of active voices. Of laughter and play. The excitement of seeing cousins, of family card games, and mysterious old homes to explore. Spiral staircases to dusty attics, and coal furnaces in the basements. We mined for treasures. And we found them in shiny objects unearthed, planted by the generation before.
And there were haylofts in old barns, where we leaped into the sky, hay piles lying beneath to break our fall. Flying for instants that lasted forever. A shirt was a cape, or a parachute.
An old hand pump still brought water from the earth. A hidden aquifer of life.
An electric fence for horses, and a dare to feel its pulses. Grab hold the wire and zap a brother with the other hand, before mom or dad would shoo us away.
Pulses, pulses, I feel my heart beating as I drive, wandering back in time, shuffling though images not matching the roadway. Highway hypnosis.
I’m retracing that reunion route again, but this time, the nuclei of both families are gone, having passed on to the Blue Road of the Spirit.
My father passed in ’09, and after revisiting the ground where I was raised, I stop to pay my respects to him and my paternal ancestors. He was buried in the family plot in the town where he grew up. A few miles down the road is “Stearleyville,” or its shadow, founded by my great, great grandfather. The reverse of my hometown. The small village is gone, fully reverted to farmland.
The cemetery is filled with generations, back to the original immigrant couple. Two stones eerily bear my own name. One my grandfather, and one his second son that died as an infant – born on my same birthday, passed 30 years before my birth.
I remember my dad’s funeral. Full military honors. Steeped in tradition.
He taught me the meanings of honor, integrity, loyalty, strength of character, and hard work.
We talk in silence. For a while.
Then it’s on to Michigan. A small town on the border of Ohio. My mother also to be buried in a family plot. Similar small town and farm family roots. The memories of both homes blurred.
She’s outlived the rest of her family so we have a small ceremony. A few cousins, whom I’m meeting for the first time. It’s a nice service for a well-lived life of a good heart.
She taught me compassion, empathy, and self-sacrifice.
My parents’ bodies lay some 300 miles apart. Their spirits united? Their soul contracts complete? And the particles of consciousness they helped bring into the world are scattered about the Midwest. Such is the stardust of which we’re composed.
Family plots. Family traditions. Traditions I will not follow. My ashes are to be released into the wind. No name carved in stone.
I wonder, when I leave, what neural roadmaps my daughter’s memories will travel. I hope that she too has flown wearing a magic cape.
Photo: I didn’t actually take this image, but it is an image of my brain from an MRI . . .
And if you didn’t see it earlier, check out my intro to this post in my Daily Musings – Rotation.
Photo: The California Tortoiseshell Butterfly – Nymphalis californica
Back in early November, I had settled into what I thought was a pretty decent routine. Reading, walking, hiking, meditating, and exploring my hobby of photography. That routine came crashing down when the house I was living in became contaminated and I had to make a hasty retreat.*
My patterns are still in a state of disruption.
Writing has become a bit secondary to solving the housing problem. But I did finish a series, at the invitation and encouragement of my blogging friend George,** about marriage and divorce. And that too left my head spinning a bit. I was, after all, revisiting some very painful memories. Basically, these memories, as well as the present situation, all involved a theme in common – the loss of home.
And I mean “home” in the more intangible sense of that word.
Not just a place to stay, but a feeling. A feeling of sanctuary. Of warmth. Of love.
Loss of “home” is not the same as moving out of a place we’ve “occupied.” It’s abandoning a sense of security, of integration, of sentiment. A home is where there is a heart connection. It becomes part of you. An extension.
Usually, this extension of ourselves is tied up with another individual or a family. It’s a communal nature. What makes a “house” a “home” is not the decor. Not the pictures hanging on the wall, or the color scheme of the bathroom fixtures. It’s an amalgamation of the feelings of warmth and protection and mutual love.
Quite an introduction there, I guess.
Intro to what? You know how I like to switch gears. 🙂