21 September 2007

My Fishing Story

My Fishing Story

You know how sometimes you walk around on one of these errand-days, moving from the supermarket to the post office to the a gift shop to the bank, and everywhere you go the ladies give you that look, and you think, Man, I still have it, but then you get home and realize your fly was open and everyone in town is laughing at you now? Actually, I think it happened to me, but I can't be sure.

You get older and all of a sudden—and I don’t know if it’s simply an age thing or a twenty-first century phenomenon—but at some point you look back in a Blade Runner Director’s Cut kind of way, and you realize it may be true that you walked to school one day in your jammies, but maybe you’ve just dreamed about it years later. Or maybe you saw it on TV.

I was walking with a friend in Brooklyn and saw this guy fishing in the river, and all of a sudden this memory comes back, of the family on the beach, and this shadow on the wharf, and my dad takes us to talk to the man who lets us fish for a few minutes. And I tell my friend I even caught something. So I’m talking about this fond, picturesque childhood memory, but then halfway through I’m thinking, Did that really happen to me or did I see it in a movie?

Here I am trying to examine my past in order to understand the world in general but I'm thinking that maybe I'm doing the exact opposite. Maybe instead of understanding the world by understanding my own past I reconstruct my identity through my submission to contemporary thought.

It's not very clear to me either. I'm not ready.


SJ said...

I too have had those moments of "is it a dream/fiction or did it happen".

Nothing on the scale of reevaluating my life ... but yeah the idea itself has occurred. Of course I am a believer that life is what you perceive not observe.

Dan said...

I have a memory of my dad talking to me one bedtime and saying that he and me could set up a weather station just outside my bedroom window. When I woke up the day after I couldn't work out if i'd dreamt it or if it happened. I never dared ask my dad about it, and so still don't know to this day.

I have a similar memory about wetting my pants in maths class which I'm pretty sure was a dream but can't discount it having actually happened.

Jill said...

I didn't see Blade Runner but memory is a funny thing isn't it????! I always think it's silly when people say someone doesn't really remember something, they just remember the photograph. Well isn't it possible the photograph helped them remember the real thing?

I have a fishing one that I sometimes wonder if it's real. Some things just seem too fantastic to have been real - we were at the beach in Maine & the fish were practically jumping out of the water to get onto our fishing lines. The only reason I can even believe it is because my dad and brother remember it too.

spooky said...

When I was a teenager I dreamt that I walked into my mum and dad's bedroom with a boner on. When I went down for breakfast my dad put down his spoon and said, 'you were showing more than you should last night son'.
I hadn't been dreaming after all, hey ho.
Just watched your 1 year anniversary clip and thank you for the entertainment.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I had similar ephinanies when I would watch the smelt fishers at Lake Michigan in the early morning. I wonder why it has that effect.

LET'S TALK said...

I guess I'm just to old to have such thoughts as such.

People in the Sun said...

SJ, so you're saying it doesn't matter whether I caught that fish or not. That it doesn't matter as long as I don't let that influence the way I see the present. Hey, you may be right.

Dan, personally, I find it crazy that I'm not alone on this one. That's one of the advantages of putting these things up here: finding out we all have these experiences.

Jill, but a lot of times photographs mess up with your memory in the worst possible way: they make you think everyone was happy in the past. At one point I thought about making my own personal art project: an album made just of "rejects"--photos of my family when we weren't smiling. But I couldn't find enough photos. Especially now with digital cameras, it's so easy to erase sad memories.

And of course you need to watch Blade Runner.

Spooky, isn't it funny that when you're a teenager your life revolves around that "showing more than you should"? And isn't it even funnier that it never ends?

Enemy, and it all makes me think about Big Fish, which--from what I know--is also about the creation of myth through a fishing story. I didn't see it because I feel I've had enough of Tim Burton, but maybe I should read the book.

My father discovered an essay I wrote about him a few years ago (it's online, somewhere in an obscure corner of the internet), and he emailed me a link to the book. It's all connected, somehow.

Let's, na... You're never too old for anything.

Tsedek said...

I never had that :(

I feel deprived :(

I always know if something really happened or not.

Perhaps I'm not normal :(

People in the Sun said...

Tsedek, being the only normal person doesn't make you abnormal. But if you still feel deprived, I suggest watching TV constantly, including leaving it on when you go to sleep. Eventually you'll swear you were an ER surgeon at one point in your life.

LJP said...

I think my brain just exploded ;-)

durante vita said...

You're not ready...

You and me both. At least we have each other.


Webmiztris said...

that happens to me sometimes too. maybe it's a memory from a past life or

People in the Sun said...

LJP, I'm sorry. You actually do look kind of confused there.

Durante, and a happy new year. You know, we went to the same school.

Webmiztris, or maybe we're just brains in a machine, experimented on by scientists, and our memories were installed, and the most basic one they used was a fishing story.

Now my own brain exploded. Messy for the minimum wage lab assistants.

Jill said...

Yeah being an inactive scrapbooker, I had an epiphany of sorts about the whole photo/memory thing, though it's any recorded record really not just photos. I don't know why it felt so strong at the time since I was already well aware of the concept.

My family went on a beach vacation, during which I took gorgeous photos & made this cock eyed but still pretty layout.

At the time though, we were all really worried about my four year old nephew Leo (the one on my brother's back if that link worked). A couple days before we left for the vacation, a totally random act of violence- a man had wandered into his daycare off the street, attacked one of the teachers with a butcher knife and another knife. The police ended up shooting & killing the man while the kids were in the room.

I didn't want that in the layout, but I couldn't leave it out. I ended up doing "hidden journaling" which means (if you're not a scrapper) that I wrote the story on that little tag you can see peeking out from the right hand side of the photo. You can take the page out of the album & pull out that tag & read the story, but if you're just looking at the page, you wouldn't see the story.

A couple years later I was looking at that page, remembering how wonderful the trip had been, how pretty the water, how much fun the cousins had together. "What's this?" I wondered, noticing the tag. Pulled it out & the memories of the story came flooding back. But previous to pulling the tag out, all I could remember was how nice a time we had!

Anyway, I don't see anything wrong with a good dose of denial, rose colored glasses, etc. as long as no one's being hurt in the process. I do agree about the shaping of memories thing though. I just don't think it's *necessarily* a bad thing unless you're denying someone their feelings or otherwise causing someone harm.

Ms. Q said...

Your experience of not being able to determine if a memory is "true" is something that happens to all of us and is described in the book "Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering Our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality, and Truth" by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman.

The authors mention how Ronald Reagan would recount - with tears in his eyes, a news story that he had heard as a child about a fighter pilot. Reagan had found the story very inspiring.

What Reagan didn't know was that he was "remembering" a scene from a movie.

This is why it's hard to ask children to be witnesses - you have to be very careful in how you ask questions AND if you keep repeating a story to a child, they will "remember" it as happening.

Another thing to wrap your mind around is the idea that we create our world and if we are the creator of everything and view our world from from the Subjective Reality view, everything outside our awareness doesn't exist and our "past" is something we create as we "recall" it. I'm fuzzy on the concept of subjective reality but the idea that we create our past is an interesting one.

Oh, in the aforementioned book the authors tell of a study where people prayed for people who had been in the hospital IN THE PAST and the study looked at how these former patients were doing now. The people that were prayed for had a lower mortality rate. I forget the details but the authors discussed the experiment from different views. Just the idea that we can affect the past in any way is fascinating to me.

Of course there IS the theory (?) that we can only perceive time in the present - we don't have the sense (a sensing organ) to see all time/events that are present all the "time."

Or how about this - does it matter if it really happened or was a dream or a movie? If we incorporate it into our lives, it becomes our "truth" so it may as well happened as we experienced it as such. In fact, athletes use visualization to practice and I heard that the body cannot differentiate between what you imagine and what you're actually doing - it responds to the image.

Which is why if you imagine a lemon and biting into one, your mouth will start to salivate in response.

I dunno, this is all "sitting by the lake and sipping wine" type of chat...

Jill said...

Can at least one of us sip beer? :-) :-) :-)

Ms. Q said...

Jill: of course. Or a whiskey sour or a dirty martini or a margarita or a lemonade or iced tea or moonshine or ...

Oh, I re-read your comment about the scrapbook tag - nice photo and very cool idea about the "hidden tag" I like the idea! Can you imagine leaving notes to yourself to find, like those "time capsules"?

Speaking of memories, I've been chatting with this woman who lives in a nearby elderly care facility. Her children want her to write some of her memories down. I've been thinking that it would be really cool to have some type of "workshop" at these retirement homes - a memoir writing workshop. I wrote it down in my "idea" notebook for things I'd like to do in the future.

People in the Sun said...

Jill, I looked at the picture first, but only after reading your comment I noticed the tag. Why did you forget this incident? And how can it be that the brain that made the decision to forget this tragedy was also the same brain that made sure you'll create the tag and be reminded of it later?

Ms. Q, thanks for that long comment. I heard about the Reagan story (I think). I still wonder if it is a recent phenomenon (and when I say recent I mean 20th Century), or if borrowed memories existed in other forms before we started watching movies.

And about perceiving only the present, I do believe in another theory, that people used to be able to perceive humanity's collective past and future, but we forgot how to do that. Last year I wrote about my experience of seeing everyone I've ever met and everyone I'll ever meet, and everyone anyone else will ever meet, and that as soon as the experience was over I continued my life as if nothing happened.

And false memories might be okay in this fishing story; it's a nice story about a father who takes his children to the beach. But what if I had a negative story that made me hate my father? Then whether it really happened should have made a real difference, no?

Jill said...

You know, I've been thinking about this one like I said & I'm going to have to go with my first answer which I thought was totally flippant, but might actually be the real thing: I was on kind of a lot of antidepressants at the time, & I was probably just looking for happy stuff in the scrapbook.

What surprised me was how *thoroughly* I forgot - I mean I had to **READ** the tag. I didn't just go "Oh yeah! I remember now!" when I took it out of its spot in the book. I had totally and completely forgotten. I dunno though - I wasn't really on them that long so I didn't bother to learn a whole lot, but maybe antidepressants mess with memory or something.

Jill said...

"But what if I had a negative story that made me hate my father? Then whether it really happened should have made a real difference, no?"

Way harder one, because it has to make a difference if you DO something that wrecks his life or whatever, accuse him of abuse, some crime or something. But without that it seems like, why would you have a memory that made you hate your father?

It would seem more likely that you already had strong negative feelings and that maybe you made a memory to go with those overwhelming feelings bec. you couldn't remember WHY you had them than that you made up the memory first and the feeling followed. But who knows...

People in the Sun said...

Jill, antidepressants always scared me. I've always thought depression was like pain after you hurt yourself, a message from the brain to make you know you were doing something wrong. Maybe just like the brain makes sure you know to stop hitting your head on the wall, it also tells you to stop making the wrong decisions in life, but antidepressant simply make you live with your mistakes instead of correcting them, basically allowing you to continue to bang your head on the wall.

But what do I know? This kind of explanation offends a lot of people who suffer from depression. (Although it doesn't mean it's not true).

And as for my father. That's even more complicated. A few years ago, visiting my parent's house, I found a notebook I wrote when I were 7-years-old, where I basically wrote about how my father was hitting me all the time. So I asked my mom if it was true, if my father really hit me that much when I were a kid, because I didn't remember any of it. See, these notebooks are child-abuse 101, complete with drawings of a giant father with a big hand slapping a little boy with blood dripping all over his body (I used a pencil for most of the drawings and a red pen for the blood). She said it never happened, that he shouted here and there, and sometimes lightly slapped my face, but nothing serious, and that I made this connection because I had a lot of imagination as a kid. So I don't know if happened or not, and probably in the end it doesn't really matter.

Jill said...

That's hard. Prior to finding the notebook, you don't remember being hit? Some boy drawings are full of violence and blood - seemingly happy, well adjusted boys drawing boy things because they've been handed a box of crayons. There's no way to know for certain but when I've given violent looking drawings to the school councilor (in 1st grade, not preschool) she's told me not to worry about it.

On the other hand, I think it would also be perfectly normal/common human behavior for your mom to be downplaying the amount & level of punishments you got as a child, out of love for your dad, out of guilt not to have intervened, out of a rose colored glasses type of personality, out of ignorance if you spent a great deal of time with your dad while she wasn't around. Or for whatever reason; people do that too.

On the depression meds. vs. other coping strategies vs. life changes - well if I get that too much into it, then I'm going to make myself late to work...but I think you're right up to a certain point. Not all the way though.

All the way would mean that if you could set up your life perfectly somehow, the depression would be all the way gone & you wouldn't need medication OR other coping strategies, right? I definitely do agree though that during the time when I was on antidepressants, my life was in need of a complete overhaul and I wasn't going to be able to cope antidepressants or not...

Hey listen I've been meaning to tell you since I guess you must like Hopper - you should get your baby the picture book "Three Magic Balls" by Egielsky. Hopefully this will work to show you a picture from one of the pages:
Egielski picture

It won't be a good read aloud until at *least* age two or three, but I might forget to tell you in three years. :-)

Jill said...

I'm thinking again, dag nab it...

I'm thinking it's ****really**** common for kids to use the phrase "all the time" to describe something that happened once or twice at most. It ****feels**** like "all the time" to them, I think bec. even more so than many adults they can't fathom the future as being any different from the present.

This is reminding me of a similar memory descrepancy where my father claims to have stopped physical punishment after realizing he hit my brother too vigorously. The only problem is, my brother and I both have clear memories of being spanked well beyond that point. The way my brother & I reconciled it is that we decided that he probably at that point made a conscious desision to quit physical punishment in the throes of anger (whether he did or not, who knows?) but not the punishment itself.

I think, you know, that it is entirely possible that it happened, perhaps even more than once. But that if it had been a constant in your life that you would remember it and that to hate over something you're not certain happened would only cause you the pain of hating. Even if you were certain it happened, forgiving would harm you less.

People in the Sun said...

Jill, I'm afraid I have a very bad memory and you'll have to remind me about the book in a couple of years. But it probably won't be that long because he's already very advanced for his age.

There's a funny Hopper-esque picture in one of my favorite books, Sitting Ducks (and by the way, the guy behind the bar is not a real duck--hence the name "Decoy Cafe").

So I don't know what really happened there. I remember my father shouting but not hitting to the point of blood. And it makes sense that I imagined it and it also makes sense that it did happen and my brain made me forget it. I never hated him for that, not even after I found the notebook. I figured, if I didn't remember it, then there was nothing to remember. And my life is too busy to try harder to remember things like that. All I can do is promise myself I'll do whatever I can to be a good father, right?

Jill said...

"All I can do is promise myself I'll do whatever I can to be a good father, right?"

Yep, that's about what us mere mortals can manage. :-)

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