Monday, 18 May 2009

Mind Games

One minor source of relief on our traffic-congested streets is the mind games that may ensue when our eyes fix on some interesting text.

It's usually right in front, for which we become a captive viewer. It happened to me again on Friday. Cleveland Street, in peak hour. I'm drumming fingers on the wheel impatiently, as, too, is the driver in the lane beside me. In front there's a monstrous truck, wide enough to stop me seeing beyond it, making me feel wedged in and stuck. In big letters the sign on the back says: "The only thing we leave is a memory".

It's a case of understanding the words but failing to understand the intended meaning. Because I have no idea who "we" refers to and because "leave" can mean any of a thousand things (eg the plane leaves at three; he leaves a widow and two children; four from eight leaves four; he left the others for dead; he leaves me cold; she's on leave without pay; I'll leave you to it), I'm at a loss to create meaning from these words.

It's a good example of how constructing meaning from a message is far from automatic or safely assumed.

And "memory" is such an evocative word, such an abstract noun. You can't go down to the corner shop and buy a "memory", hold it in your hand, look at it, do something with it. It takes you into the realm of the conceptual.

The lights way ahead turn green but rather like the stage directions in Beckett's Waiting for Godot, no one moves.

Congestion - whether it's on the roads, in the sinuses or the arteries - makes movement difficult.

"The only thing we leave is a memory." Is this a promise? Or a threat? Should I be relieved? Or worried? I resolve that the only recourse is to overtake the truck, at the earliest opportunity and without risking life or limb, so as to see what else may be written on it. More words may throw more light, allowing me some closure on the memory statement.

Eventually the opportunity emerges and I take my chance. As I pass alongside the truck, I see more letters and within a moment I can make them out.


The penny drops!

If these chairs could talk what memories would they share - Kirribilli, April 2009


HappyOrganist said...

I love that play! ;-D

Cozyflier said...

OK, I feel dumb, not familiar with that play. Great post and picture.

I'm all about memories!

McMGrad89 said...

My mother and I are always referring to Godot in some fashion or other.

I love that truck! I think for us we should take it as advice. Do everything as if it will be what you are remembered by because the only thing you leave is a memory.

Having just returned from a funeral of an unassuming man who turned out to have touched many lives, that is where I am taking it.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm demolition! Nice slogan (not!!!) It chimes in with something I've been pondering lately. When horrible things happen in a building our reaction is often to tear it down (in the Baines case, which is big news over here, they torched the house and burnt it to the ground). But I guess the intention is to rid the place of evil .... and yet according to your demolition company, the memory still lingers... so defeating the whole exercise. I also notice that they are going to build on ground zero in New York - I guess some land is just too lucrative to spare.

Monica said...

Aaaaah, memories. I have been busy working on a scrapbook this wkd. to give as a gift when we get to Selah.

I am very creative and enjoy that aspect so much, but I also enjoy looking at the pictures again. Brings back so many good memories!

Lilly said...

I dont know how you drive in peak hour. I could never do it but I guess you do what you have to.

Interesting advertising I have to say. Makes you realise how important it is to write stories and to keep blogging so those memories stay alive a long time after the buildings have been demolished. Its funny how the furniture always outlives the people - I have this gorgeous little rough wooden stool made by my great, great, grandfather for his wife. I love it and its the one thing I would want to keep always. Simply because whenever I look at it I imagine what life must have been like for all those who have used it since it was made.

Love your header photo. Cheeky.

Silver said...

Very clever.. ;)

i really wouldn't have been able to guess. But the image conjured in my mind would sugggests how fleeting everything that we see or have. Only memories last.

jen said...

Well, I'm thinking of everything I've left. I hope to leave my children with good memories. But, as you point out so eloquenty, leaving can mean so many things.

when my first husband left 10 years ago, i'm certain he felt he was only leaving a memory. this brings to mind the book, The Good Earth, by Eckhart Tole - in which he says - noone can ever know us. When some leave, they've left more of us than others. For some, we are the fleshly symbol of memory - to others, so much more - and then, still to come, we become more with the passage of time.

A lot to think about...

miruspeg said...

HappyOrganist, Carrie, Annemarie, Healingstones, Monica, Lilly, Silver, Jen.......

Thanks for your feedback on this post. How interesting that some of you talked about the play "Waiting for Godot" which I just put in as a throw away line. It is quite an intriguing play and I think the stage play in London would be fabulous as the characters are played by Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.

As for memories I feel they are a very important part of life. I so hope I am leaving good memories behind for the ones who know and love me. It is the reason I blog and enjoy reading your blogs....together we are creating memories.

Fly Girl said...

So glad to get back online and visit with you. As always, you've made me think.

As I read your post, I was thinking along the lines of ... when you leave this Earth, all you leave behind are memories in other people's minds. With that thought ringing in my head, I realize that memories of you are all that's left when you die. Memories. Important stuff to the ones we leave behind.

I think the slogan is pretty catchy for the demolition company.

Now, I've got to go see if you've left other pearls of wisdom on your site since my last visit.


McMGrad89 said...

Interesting thing came to mind when I saw the comment about 9/11 and the ground zero being built over. In 2004, Caitlin and I went to NYC for a vacation and just happened to see this amazing display in honor of the 9/11 victims. (You can read about it here. I used to think it didn't make much of an impression on Caitlin, but when I was searching for an article about it, she saw the picture and said, I remember that!

Sometimes you leave a mark that people will remember without your even trying.

Regardless of what is built on ground zero, people will never forget!

Caroline said...

WOW...what a post! A demolition truck...leaving only memories. Quite a mind game for sure! I do like the quote...think I will ponder this for a while...

McMGrad89 said...

I like that tune - Bookends.

Poetikat said...

We could dwell for hours on the implications of words. In fact, I think I do sometimes. I liked this post - I will remember next time I see outside billboards and messages.

I have an award for you Peg, at Keepsakes.


Is that Suzanne Vega I hear? Wow!