Monday, 10 December 2012

And Still They Come

A change in the weather - snow, a decent frost, and PAF! PAF! PAF! those anomalous memories pile up upon one another, as they do when the seasons change. The strangely familiar, the familiarly strange, that well-known memory which is not attached to anything I've lived through. I've had these all my life, as early as I can remember, they are a part of me. What they are, I know not. How to categorise them - a scientific or spiritual phenomena, is still beyond me.

Over the years, I've got to recognise these anomalous memories, that feel like memories that come across one unbidden, yet are clearly not from my life's experiences. They are mine, they are familiar; but where are they from and what do they mean?

Let's whittle them down. They don't feel like the Far East or Africa. They don't feel ancient or mediaeval. They feel mid-20th Century, USA or Scandinavia. A land of four separate seasons, as Poland has (but England doesn't); low-rise houses with car ports surrounded by groves of pine and birch, moderne office developments amid snowy forests.

Scene which triggered that PAF! moment on my way home from work

Memories that feel as real as anything that resonates with my 1960s British childhood, yet are not of it. There are other ones; Edwardian England, fin-de-siecle France, the Pripyat marshes, Merrie England, 17th C. Less strong, less frequent, yet also present in unbidden memories; pleasant memories, and ones I can reach for and experience should I wish to.

What this is all about is still life's greatest mystery for me. Is this a common phenomenon, that many people experience yet fail to identify? Or am I alone on this one? (I've met a tiny handful of people in my life that have experienced similar sensations affecting their consciousness)

These days I'm more inclined to look for a scientific explanation rather than to seek for religious meaning in these anomalous memory events. They are not strong - when they happen, I try to catch the feeling, catch the moment, dwell upon it before it evaporates (PAF! There's another one...) but they are ephemeral, fleeting. And yet real, and yet really familiar.

I cannot will such a memory into being, but I can get myself into a mood where they are more likely to happen (though seeking them for their own end tends to be futile and disappointing). There are places where they are more likely to happen (in the kitchen, in the chilled-food section at Auchan, on Dolina Służewiecka between ul. Nowoursynowska and Rodowicza), and, as I mentioned, when there are changes in the weather (the onset of spring, for example).

The human brain is the most complex structure known to man. We have scarcely begun to unravel its secrets. Is this a brain thing or something else? My brain tuning into thought waves once projected from human brains once alive? Atoms within me that were once within some other human being, some while back? Tosh! you may say. Would that I could do so with any degree of certainty. All I know is that this phenomenon is very real, has always been with me, continues to feel familiar, and continues to intrigue me and pique my curiosity.

The recent Economist article I mentioned a few days ago regarding health and happiness mentions meditation as something of proven benefits to physical health. It is certainly something I shall delve into, with an aim of seeing if I can get nearer the root of it.

PAF! A present life flashback, again entirely unbidden - the Bath Road, near Turnham Green, driving with my father to the Polish church on Leysfield Road in the l960s - a set of level cross gates between Abinger Road and Emlyn Road (the internet's a wonderful thing - the flashback is confirmed...) An impressive demonstration, if I say so myself - but it would be a miraculous validation to be able to flash back with such a degree of detail to a life's experience beyond my own.

Should I seek answers, or let things lie? I'm for seeking answers.

This time last year:
Classic glass

This time six years ago:
What's the Polish for 'pattern'?

This time four years ago:
"Rorate caeli de super nubes pluant justum..."

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