Monday, September 4, 2023

Rivers and Pinwheels


You never really know what events are going to be important in your life. I mean, you think you do, and sometimes you're right, but really we're all largely at the mercy of our brains who pick and choose which things to keep and which things to discard. 

Eliza pulled this memory out of thin air the other day. "Do you remember that pink spinny thing?" she began. I didn't know what she was talking about until she kept describing the scene in such detail that she awakened my own memory of it, and we shared again the joy that had been in that moment. Although, if I'm being honest, I don't think I felt the joy of that past moment until this very present one.

Because I didn't choose the memory of the pink spinny thing. She did.

I'm sitting at my desk, trying to organize four years of neglected pictures, feeling rushes of adrenaline and twitches of anxiety every time I think of all the memories that are passing me by without being recorded, and this picture of that pink spinny thing popped right up on my screen. It felt soothing, somehow. I throw posts onto Instagram like sticks into a rushing river, hardly stopping to admire them before they're swallowed up in the rush of things. I do it with the hope that I'm creating a dam somewhere downstream where my children can someday play, but my motives get sloppy and confused sometimes as I watch others' sticks flow by in the relentless current and compare them to my own. There are so many unspoken rules about what the sticks can look like, how many words you can say about them, how many pictures you can show about them, and I always feel the pressure of having to keep my finger on the pulse of public relations and social etiquette, and truth be told, I kind of hate it. 

So, this pink spinny thing.

Part of the fun of a pinwheel is that, if you take it out of the wind, you get to control how fast it spins. Controlling how fast a river flows is far above my own intelligence, but I can control my breath. And if Instagram feels like the rushing river, this blog space feels like a pinwheel. This, here, is mine.

The truth is, I like to write about pinwheels. Things that seem ordinary and forgettable. But I haven't figured out how to do it in the middle of a rushing river yet because there are just too many other things to watch out for.

And Eliza reminded me that, no matter how many sticks I collect and throw, my children are going to come out of their childhood with their own memories. Memories that I can't record because they're not mine. So I'm just going to take a deep breath in and spin my own pinwheel.