Friday, March 27, 2009

Settle Down

Long Lost
By Christie Martin

After years
I send you
You send me
And sheaves

We read

If I held your look
I hold your words
I read you
In the aches and spaces

Does blood run
Black and white
Or laughter slip
like paper cuts
Along the fine seams
Between paper and skin?

Where, O where
have you been?

You know you are finally home when you watch your cousin give the weather report. I am finally in a place where I have roots. The region of the country where I now live is where my parents grew up and my extended family has always lived. It was a place I used to visit now and again. I grew up in a military family and moved several times in my childhood: less than some, but enough to get the habit well established. I continued the practice in my adult years.

I love to start over. I like the clean slate. I like introductions and the thrill of discovery. Everyone is on an even playing field at the beginning. The flaws in the turf have yet to be stumbled over. The wrestling of a friendship from an acquaintance is great sport.

Yet, it has cost me as I moved from pature to greener pasture. I have lost many contacts along the way. I have lived on two coasts and several states. My geography is pegged with longing for faces and voices out of reach in time and space.

Internet inventions like Facebook, e-mail, and even Google have given me the gift of reconnections. My life has been enriched by the reintroduction of those "I knew when." History is something we outrun, but it does catch up with us eventually.

History is to the culture like friendship is to the soul. We need to have an objective look now and then at who we were to fully understand who we are and who we may wind up being. Sometimes a change in direction is necessary. Sometimes, we need to come home, wherever that may be, put our feet to the fire and be quiet.

As unmoored as one single life can become at the loss of connections with the past, a culture can as easily be cast adrift. We have a human need to stay grounded in our past. From Frederick Douglas to John Adams from Socrates to the Apostle Paul, the writers who call to us out of history act as friends to the lumbering psyche of a people. They remind us of where we've been, the failed experiments we've already tried as well as the trials that have led to success. Like a truly good friend they can point out our habits and flaws along with our strengths and admirable qualities.

We need history. Without it we forget who we are and must reinvent ourselves. When we do that we run the risk of losing sight of who we were meant to be.

A Last Thought: "Because our expression is imperfect we need friendship to fill up the imperfections." G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, June 6, 1931.

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