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Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you?

September 2nd, 2014

Moonrise

“The moon rose over an open field.”

Teen angst. Most of us experienced it at one time.

The teenage years, and into our early 20s are a time of new experiences that can often lead to feelings of extreme helplessness, alienation, even suicide. Most of us get over it in time – most of the time anyway.

Does this mean we know better, that life is good after all? Or is youth a time of greater clarity, greater insight into life?

I was thinking recently about life weariness and the 1968 Simon and Garfunkel album, Bookends.

Bookends – the album

There are some happy songs on the second half of this album, but the first side, written when Paul Simon was about 26, has its fair share of disturbing thoughts.

Save the life of my child tells the story of a teenage boy standing on a high-rise window ledge threatening to jump. His mother keeps crying for help, but the onlookers seem only interested in the spectacle.

America starts with two young lovers embarking on an adventure exploring their nation, but the dream doesn’t last. Darkness falls, the bus is quiet, and as the narrator watches, “the moon rose over an open field”.

“Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping.
“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why”

The next three tracks tell of a relationship that’s over, then lives that are nearly over – including two old friends, sitting “on their parkbench like bookends …. silently sharing the same fears”.

And then this short song cycle ends with:

Time it was,
And what a time it was
It was . . .
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago . . . it must be . . .
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

Reflection

I have just turned 69. I’m not sitting on any parkbench right now. But I can still feel the sadness in Paul Simon’s songs.

Are our memories all that we’re left with?

I don’t believe so.

But I’m glad I have good reason to think that.

Photo Credit: jurvetson via Compfight cc.

9 Comments

  1. Happy Birthday unkleE. I turned 60 last March. I got to spend it with my family in Maui. Memories are treasures. They might be all we have in the end.

    Life is not arriving at the grave in a pretty and well preserved body. But to slide in broadside , all used, all worn out and loudly proclaiming, “Wow what a ride !” (Author unknown)

    If you’re right, I look forward to another go at it.

  2. Thanks Kat, I hope the “FAR more” doesn’t concentrate around my abdomen! 🙂

    Thanks to you too Ken, I didn’t know you had family in Maui. I guess your quote could be echoed in “Carpe Diem!”.

  3. unkleE, I think we have a perfect example here of how redactors and copyists could have made similar mistakes. And when you throw in language translations too. If only we had the “originals” . 🙂

  4. Happy Birthday Eric! I’m only 43, so I’ve got a lot more experiences to go to be able to have the life wisdom that you guys have.

    I hope your birthday was an enjoyable one with family/friends.

    – Howie

  5. Hi Howie, thanks. Not sure about the wisdom thing for me. Sure I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learnt from many of them, but there are still thousands more possible mistakes out there!! 🙁

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