Three Hundreth Blog Post; Falling Back

As the ever-changing fall weather begins to manifest into cooler nights and milder days, this particular change of seasons nearly always finds me looking backwards in time. The inspiration for this rearward journey has its roots in both my personal history, and in the relentless search for understanding that has occupied me for decades. It usually begins without deliberate intention or planning, but immediately feels familiar as my mind wanders into seasons past, reminding me that I have been here many times before.

As I drift off into an autumnal reverie, I often feel as though I am moving through the world in reverse. Relaxing on the deck out back with my morning coffee, I pause momentarily to sit back, inhale the cool fresh air, embracing the warmth of the late morning sun as it softly spreads across the yard, and all at once, I find myself adrift.

Going back now—back through time. In some ways, it’s almost like falling, only it’s more like being in a vehicle that’s moving in reverse at a very high speed. The other day I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the local grocery store, next to a large puddle which had a whole bunch of fallen leaves floating upon it, and I looked down to my left out the window, momentarily losing my bearings—the leaves were floating across the surface of the puddle with the wind, in a way that made me think the car was moving, and I briefly endured the sensation of backwards movement.

Instinctively, I let out an exclamation of surprise, and abruptly grabbed the steering wheel while stepping on the brakes. For just a moment, I felt as though I had lost control of my vehicle through some accidental warping of time. Once I realized that it was not me who was moving, it occurred to me that if one day someone does invent some mechanism for time travel, that it might require the traveler to endure a similarly abrupt and unexpected sensation.

Way back in my personal lifetime, on another early autumn day, very likely in October, I remember sitting on the lawn out front of my childhood home; the sun was out, but there were a number of white, puffy clouds floating across the otherwise bluish sky, with perhaps a slightly gentler breeze than the one I was experiencing on this day, but it still was sufficiently strong to stir the leaves on the large chestnut tree which covered the front lawn years ago, forcing the crackling noise of the decaying and brittle leaves, scraping up against each other, along with the whooshing sound that we hear so often when the wind gusts during this time of year.

I was sitting cross-legged, up on my hands at the top of the hill; it was maybe midday or a little later, and the air was cool and fresh, and the sun felt warm on my face. I had nowhere to go. I was not responsible for anything. I knew nothing of the world outside of my own small world. At that moment, without knowing exactly why, I memorized that moment. I looked around carefully, noting every detail; there was no traffic on the street, no pedestrians walking by, and the only thing moving was the limbs of the trees and the leaves as they let go their tenuous hold on the fragile branches—the gusting wind would occasionally blow through the blades of grass, bending them in a swirling pattern across the lawn. As a young man, I had virtually no hair to speak of, most often sporting the common sight of a “crew cut,” so popular among the parents of young boys in those days. Somehow, I knew that one day this moment would have meaning for me, even though at the time I had no framework for discerning why. I committed those moments to memory, knowing that I would be glad some day in the future.

Further along in my grammar school education, I used to walk every day back and forth to school, and I remember my feet swishing through the leaves on the sidewalks, and I loved the sound that the fragile brown leaves would make as I floated through them—and the pleasure of admiring the beautiful colors all mixed together as I made my way to and from my home each day, and for a short time, this ritual would sometimes include a shower of leaves as they broke loose and were falling all around me.

It seems to me now, in retrospect, that I was falling too…

11 thoughts on “Three Hundreth Blog Post; Falling Back

    1. Gary,

      Your inclination to comment on my post is a most welcome one, and as someone who knows well the importance of holding on to our most cherished memories, I agree with you that, especially later on in life, memories play a much more prominent part in our well-being, and keeping our minds and our brains in good condition becomes much more important when it comes to staying healthy overall. You have taken many positive steps in recent years to correct some of your earlier circumstances, and I not only greatly admire your tenacious efforts to turn things back into a more positive vein, but I am confident that you will have many more years of remembering and making new memories.

      Please know that I cherish the memories we have accumulated since becoming such good friends in 2011, and that I value our friendship greatly…Johnny H.

    1. Thank you so much, Wendi! It has been a challenging and rewarding journey so far, and part of the rewards of working so hard to keep writing is making connections with other writers like you, who not only are supportive and encouraging, but who inspire us by sharing the important parts of their own journeys.

      Warm regards…John H.

      1. You always have such amazing comments that leave me feeling deeply humbled. Thank you for sharing your stories……….it allows others to feel more human.

      2. One of the most important ways of feeling truly human comes as a result of sharing our stories with others and communicating with each other in this way is central to our efforts in understanding and appreciating of our fellow travelers in this life.

  1. Yes, I too have had a few of those moments when at the time I knew they were special and that I would never forget. How curious, in a way, that a child is capable of such prescience. Love the pictures ; I have never been to America, but it is unmistakable when you see it.

    1. One of the reasons I have been so passionate about the subject of consciousness is because of the number of times in my youth when circumstances seemed so personally compelling to me, but for which I had no context for truly understanding. When I finally delved deeply into the research and read more widely as an adult, the context became much clearer and gave me a framework for pursuing a greater understanding. Raising a house full of children is also a fertile source of inspiration and education in these matters, and the enrichment which results from time spent now with my grandchildren takes the inspiration to a whole new level.

      You should consider arranging for a visit to America eventually, and have a look first-hand. My two years in Europe unfortunately did not include a visit to Great Britain, but I did have a number of opportunities to get to know a few British soldiers and intelligence associates, and enjoyed comparing notes with them. There is nothing quite as beneficial as spending time in other countries, and the expansion of our understanding of the world is increased greatly by such travels.

  2. I usually find your comments by accident but always enjoy reading your words. They feel soft and ethereal, close then faraway. I have not been taking the usual time to write for myself or my writing companions. Any advice?

    1. Doraine,
      It is reassuring to know that you enjoy reading here, and often I also enjoy and have found much to admire in the thoughtful comments readers post regarding the subjects of my writing, so it is a mutually beneficial and agreeable arrangement to engage in conversation and in the exchange of ideas in this way.

      My temperament today as a writer, and all my life as a person, has always been empathetic, even in my youth. My mother told me that as a young boy, if I saw another child fall down or get hurt in some way, that I would also cry or be upset. Even to this day, whenever I am interacting with others, or viewing an emotional scene on stage or while watching a film, I am often moved emotionally and feel empathy in response to those experiences. As a father to six children, and now as a grandfather to eight grandchildren, I find it virtually impossible to avoid being empathetic, even to children who are NOT related to me. I care deeply about the subjects of my writing, and feel strong connections to those with whom I interact, when they are open to such connections, and prefer to employ gentleness and kindness with those who are not so open, whenever possible, which may account for the sometimes close and sometimes faraway character of my responses.

      I fully understand how it can happen that any writer endures gaps in time spent writing, or in episodes when writing drops off or becomes less urgent, even when they WANT to attend to it. Over the almost nine years of writing this blog, I have struggled many times with competing priorities, dry spells, and fatigue that hindered my ability to get to the writer’s desk in my office. There is no precise formula or procedure to follow in response to these challenges, but I do have a couple suggestions.

      What makes us feel compelled to write in the first place may be different for each of us, but what keeps it going is always our acknowledgement that there are clear benefits for us as writers and for those who read what we write. There is great satisfaction in the PROCESS of writing, in the EXPRESSION of our passions or interests, that is not dependent on the expectations of others, but SHARING what we write is also an important source of satisfaction and benefit that can help us stick with it. My own routines include time for both private writing in my journals, and for researching, reading, and composing the work that I share publicly. When one side of this routine seems to be more difficult, I tend to shift my attention to the other, and if I am struggling with both for some reason, I tend to shift into reading more, and eventually something will usually push through.

      I also have taken to periodically using a voice recorder to allow my thoughts to come out in a “stream of consciousness,” which can have surprising results even if nothing particularly noteworthy gets recorded. Whether I am writing at length or suffering through some uncharacteristically difficult time, allowing thoughts to flow out of me without regard to the content or the quality of the words has helped greatly to start the flow moving or to push the boundaries when the flow is moving along just fine.

      Your acknowledgement of your enjoyment in reading here, and your generosity in describing my words in such a positive way, tells me that you are also someone who shares in the trials and benefits of the writer’s life, and I have no doubt that you will find your way back whenever the time arrives for it. Don’t worry too much about it and let me know if there is some way I can be of any additional help.

      Regards…John H.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s