Friday, February 13, 2009

Ephemera, Ephemeral

This title (illustrated here with a collage of scanned paper ephemera) has been kicking around in my head for a day or two. Also this one: Words and pictures.

Life consists of nothing but millions of moments. Each marked from our perspective with ephemeral thoughts or actual ephemera (a ticket stub, disposibile drip catcher, label, a piece of currency). Even the most substantial things eventually flee us...or we them.

Moments are marked by ambient sounds (I happen to be listening to Jeff Lofton's jazz trumpet on his WEB site as I type this), the light, the disappearing coffee in your cup. If you follow something like Twitter or Facebook feeds you can follow the beat of your friends' moments. There's you, wasting a moment, watching others waste a moment. [I stopped here to get another coffee from my Capresso Jura E8. I also thought "I wonder if I'll mention that I heard Jeff Lofton's quartet at Belmont last night after getting some free premium Crown Royals at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse bar. I wonder if I'll remember what we did last night next year or even next week."]

Making it all add up, looking back (looking forward is so much harder) is the stuff of memoir. If I ever write a memoir, please consider it less than accurate. Because...

Yesterday I was reading scribbled notes in an old journal, trying to see if there was anything worth capturing before I did something with the journal. (It's a pretty one with lovely paper, made in Florence with scenes of that same city reproduced in a watercolor on the cover.) I immediately fell into a curiosity about what I was doing at the time I wrote the notes (six years ago, 2003). I could see that we were getting ready for a trip to New York. I was confused as to why. I was only slightly less confused after reading pieces of a pretty comprehensive online journal. All of which made me think that I wasn't writing enough journal entries of the type filled with 'then we did this, then I did that, then I showered and put on blue jeans.' Moments lost.

Besides minutes ago FFP came in from his Pilates class and dug around in the drawer for our tickets to a ballet tonight and a musical performance at the Paramount tomorrow night and I was thinking how much less attractive and interesting the computer-printed and bar-coded tickets were than some tickets I saved in my ephemera boxes. I was thinking I probably wouldn't save them nor write about seeing Ballet Austin's "Hamlet" and Ramsey Lewis and Ann Hampton-Calloway in any coherent way that I could ever find again and associate with this Valentine's weekend in 2009. And that made me a little sad but that's life. How many moments do we spend trying to recapture moments as we hurtle forward through another day, another 86,400 seconds (some spent sleeping...did I mention I had interesting dreams last night now forgotten and unrecorded?). We can collect ephermera, words and pictures. But the past is running away to a speck in the distance, each moment an emepheron, souvenirs of same notwithstanding.

I love this forward motion, but something in me wants to capture it even while understanding that I will never succeed. Hence words and pictures to recall if not recapture.

1 comment:

~ Sil in Corea said...

Isn't it curious, and, yet natural, for us to want to trap moments like bugs in amber? I suspect it's our need to learn from our experiences. Do you suppose that's how our brains are hardwired to be? It would be so nice to be able to tally up our memories and say "Aha! This is what it was all about!"
Hugs from the "far west,"
~ Sil in Corea