Phantom memory?

Disclaimer: I am about to justify all of your suspicions regarding my sanity (or lack thereof). I think I am crazy, and it’s okay that you do too.

I think I have experienced what I have until today referred to as a ‘false memory.’ Today I looked up what a False Memory is, and in what must be one of the shortest Wikipedia pages ever, it said simply “False memory refers to the recollection of an event, or the details of an event, that did not occur.”

But that’s not right, because the memory I have is of an event that actually happened and is historically documented, not something that I fabricated and convinced myself is real (like my brother, who swears to this day that I fell out of a tree and broke my leg as a child…this never happened). I actually think that is more common; it’s really not too difficult to convince your mind that something actually happened. But remembering something that did happen that I can’t possibly remember….because I wasn’t alive yet? Is it more of a Phantom Memory (like phantom limb)? That doesn’t really work either, because that implies something more like recalling memories from a previous life (if you believe in that…I don’t) that you no longer are living. What should I call this phenomena? Is it new? Can I name it after myself??? (Would I even want to?!)

I swear this is true. I distinctly remember the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger n January 28, 1986. I remember watching it on live television, rising into the air only to tragically explode a minute later. I remember feeling the shock and sadness of the tragedy and I remember my Mom’s reaction to it, with her hand over her mouth and the quiet “Oh my God.” I remember it in almost as much detail as I do the 9/11 attacks when I was in high school.

How is this possible, since I wasn’t born for another eight months? Even if I had been a newborn, or even a toddler, I would be skeptical about remembering something like this in such detail when I would have been too young to even know what was really happening. The only somewhat logical explanation I can come up with is that somewhere along to line, I watched a TV program about it or something that stuck with me through the years and my mind somehow transformed that knowledge into a memory-format. Do you know what I mean by that? Knowing some facts about an event just feels different than a real memory does, a memory formed by watching something happen live the day it happens as opposed to hearing the facts later on. I learned in school about Jonestown in Guyana, but I don’t have an actual memory of the event occurring. Yet I feel as though I have a memory of the Challenger tragedy. A real memory brought to the front of my mind whenever I see or hear something relating to it.

So am I crazy? Well, I know I’m crazy. I guess I should ask, should I be worried?

P.S. In case you are wondering what made me think of this today, I came across this list of 31 Great Iconic Photos From History, and the Challenger was on there. And I reacted to that photo differently from most of the others because the others are just things I learned, trivial knowledge and not experiences (yes yes I know, I didn’t actually experience the Challenger, but I think by now you know what I mean. I hope).

R.I.P. to the seven crew members who lost their lives aboard the Challenger

Take the stairs!

I am becoming hyper-aware of my health and fitness. For most of my 25 years I have eaten what I want (mac & cheese, all the time! yumm), used the cheapest cosmetics (I’m mostly talking shampoo, soaps, toothpaste, etc), parked as close as possible to entrances, and almost always opted for the elevator over the stairs. But over the last year in particular, I’ve been realizing just how important my body is, and how disrespectfully I have been treating it. I’ve watched people eat whatever they want, whenever they want, however much they want, simply because the taste of the food in their mouths at that moment is more important to them than any accompanying consequences. Especially of those consequences aren’t immediate! And, if I am being totally honest with myself, this is the way I have always been too.

God gave me this body, the one I am in. Not some supermodel or athlete just this average weight, fairly tall, normal looking female body. And it may have taken me 25 years to realize it, but God gave this soul this body because this is the one that was perfect to his purposes. How cool is that! Yet I have disrespected and abused this body, at times even hated it and complained about it and wished God had done a better job with it.

How ungrateful of me! I have four limbs, five working senses, healthy lungs, an amazing mind (aren’t brains amazing??) and a beating heart! I am not torn down by cancer or disease, I am not crippled in any sense of the word, I am not deaf, mute or blind. So what has been holding me back all this time from accepting this awesome gift from God and striving to take care of it and use it the way that it was intended?

I don’t know what God has planned for my life. But I want to be ready for it. And I think taking care of this body that God calls a temple is at least someplace to start. So from now on, I will do my best to eat my vegetables and take the stairs.

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
(Psalm 10:1 ESV)

“The presence of God is the joy of his people, but any suspicion of his absence is distracting beyond measure.” –Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David

This is what I love most about the Psalms; the sheer humanity of it! The Psalmists are bold and honest and so authentic in their prayers to God, in a way that I rarely see anymore. For a few months now I have been seriously and honestly evaluating my relationship with my God in terms of my own authenticity. At some point or another, everyone has doubted God’s presence, that he was near and present. I think they’d be fooling themselves (or perhaps trying to fool God) if they didn’t admit that. I know I have felt like that, many times. Yet I continued to pray as though nothing were different, as though I wasn’t feeling the way that I was feeling.

But look at the Psalmist here! “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?” When I read this, I can almost feel his uneasiness, his restlessness, even his desperateness over the thought of God being far away and indifferent to his struggles. He’s not being disrespectful. He’s being authentic.

I want to be authentic. I don’t want to gloss over the rough spots of my life. I want to be real and honest with God and in all of my relationships. I want to be real.

Remember Domino Rally?

Domino Rally was one of my favorite toys as a kid. I use the term ‘kid’ loosely, because I’m pretty sure I played with it until I was fifteen. It was that awesome.

I realized a long time ago that my mind makes really strange, disjointed chain of connections that usually results with me making a comment that probably seems like a non sequitur to everyone except for me. I will give you an example of one chain of thought that I had today, that led me to think about Domino Rally.

On the way into work this morning, I was listening to Florence + the Machine. This is somewhat out of character for me because I so rarely find a female artist that I like, but I’m mildly obsessed with Florence. Anyway, Drumming Song was playing, which is a catchy song but doesn’t have much lyrical depth.

“I swallow the sound and it swallows me whole
Till there’s nothing left inside my soul
As empty as that beating drum
But the sound has just begun

As I move my feet towards your body
I can hear this beat it fills my head up
And gets louder and louder
It fills my head up and gets louder and louder

There’s a drumming noise inside my head
That starts when you’re around
I swear that you could hear it
It makes such an all mighty sound”

Since a good chunk of connections that I make relate back to Doctor Who, I naturally started to think about The Master and the drumming he perpetually heard in his head that drove him to madness. 1234  1234  1234…

This led me to think of my favorite movie, Ink. (Ink is on Netflix streaming, watch it IMMEDIATELY! Please excuse the first few words of the movie, though) In the movie, there is a pathfinder, Jacob, who can hear the beat of the universe. 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4. (SPOILER ALERT – don’t watch the video I’m linking to and skip the rest of this paragraph if you plan on watching the movie, which I know of course you will because it’s awesome) He can hear the rhythm of life around him, and because of that, he can then figure out exactly how to change the path  of someone’s life, by interrupting its flow. Jacob causes a chain reaction of events that eventually cause John’s car crash, which lands him in the same hospital where his daughter is lying in a coma, and they are finally reunited.

So then I start thinking about chain reactions and how awesome the Rube Goldberg machine was in OK Go’s music video “This Too Shall Pass”.

Which logically led me right to Domino Rally.

Of course, this progression probably only took a couple of seconds in my head. But I think someone would probably have been pretty confused if they asked me “Do you know Florence + the Machine?” and I responded with “Yeah! And wasn’t Domino Rally AWESOME??”


Over the last couple years, I’ve realized that almost all of the conflicts that I have had with people, with myself or with God have been mostly because of my own passive-aggressive tendencies.

This is a really hard thing to realize because most of the time I didn’t/don’t even realize that I am doing it. I think it’s a sort of defense mechanism, a way of protecting myself from feeling responsible or guilty. It ensured that I never fully admitted fault for anything, or sincerely apologized, or truly forgave.

In short, I think it really kept me from showing love to people.

Passive-aggressiveness is a lot more complicated than most people think. It’s not simply an understated form of retaliation or defiance. It’s not just veiled anger hidden in my sarcasm or jokes. It’s not just protecting my sense of self-respect or self-worth by posting something on Facebook that’s just generic enough to deny that it was about something or someone specific that bothered or angered me.

These are all things that I have done in the past, and that I see every single day from other people., but it’s more deep-seated than that.

I want to be able to freely love people without having these instinctual reactions to protect myself from something that I likely only imagined. And I think trying to understand it is a good start, and it has certainly been helpful.

Here is an interesting article from the NY Times a few years ago that might be a good place to start if you are beginning to realize that this is something that you struggle with too. What is it that people always say? The first step to recovery is to admit I have a problem. And boy, do I have a problem.

Moments when this world takes my breath away

A few months ago, at the end of October, there was a freak snow storm that caused most of Western Massachusetts to be without power for up to a week. There were hundreds of powerlines down, tree boughs snapping off every few minutes, businesses were closed and people were freezing in their houses as the electric companies desperately tried to get everything back up and running. It was madness, and people were upset and cranky and really needed a good cup of coffee by the third day.

Yet the morning after the storm was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The world was dead quiet, save for the creaking of the trees as they struggled to stay upright under the weight of the snow and ice. The sky was the most brilliant blue I had ever seen, against the perfectly white snow.

Sunrise, morning after the storm

Incredibly blue sky

And for a few minutes, I just had to put down my shovel and marvel at just how beautiful God made the world around me.

Of course, within twelve hours all the snow melted and we were left without power for the next six days. Patience started to wear thin, we went to work just to get away from the cold, dark house, and I forgot all about that beauty.

Four days into the blackout I had to fly to San Francisco for work. I was glad to go – I would finally be able to shower at the hotel! This is what I was focused on: the long, long, long, long, hot shower waiting for me in California. I was tired and grumpy because I hadn’t really slept in several days and the last thing I really wanted to do was spend seven hours in planes and airports. I tried to sleep, but I’ve never been able to sleep on planes. So I tried to read, but I was too tired to concentrate. So instead I just stared out the window. And this is what I saw:

I had my camera with me and managed to get this shot as we flew over the Sierra Nevada mountains. I felt myself snap back into perspective and just take a minute to thank God for the world, for being the artist that He is and that I am alive to be a part of it.

Romans 1:20 – For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.