My favourite radio station played the classic 1965 song, California Dreaming, recently and it had me reminiscing about a time I wasn’t even alive. The Mamas & the Papas rose to #89 with it on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
There’s something weirdly deep that certain music does to us. California Dreaming has a mystical quality to me, and like some other songs of that era, particularly Simon and Garfunkel songs or John Denver songs, there’s a captivating quality in them that makes me want to wonder about a time I can’t possibly remember... what was it actually like to be living around the time of my birth or previous to it or when I was a small child?
I wonder if you have a memory like this. I recall quite vaguely (in a vivid sort of way) hearing Pilot sing January (1974) on a long drive with my father and brother from Karratha to Perth. It was 1975 and so I was eight. It is still so translucently vivid.
I recall the place where we actually drove through as the song played. Now, without exception, every time the song’s played (and unfortunately it’s not played that often, though if it was I’m sure the song’s reminiscent sparkle would soon be lost) I’m taken back to that time, or certainly back to my childhood. It’s wonderful to me.
This reminds me of the climax to Ratatouille (2007) which is a favourite animated classic. When Anton Ego gets his first taste of Linguini’s spuriously common dish, he’s sent back in his mind immediately to his childhood – and it’s not only in our sense of taste that this happens; I find seeing certain colours, for instance, also does it. Our early experience of life is so palpable it’s captivatingly mystical.
The memory is a wonderfully rich thing. The freer the mind the richer the memory, I think. But, at its base, there is a wonderful blessing here for humanity. A loving God has designed us with the capacity for memory, to learn, to know consciously as well as subconsciously, and finally, the capacity of the conscience itself. A full life has far too much memory to remember, in this life.
We don’t live in a vacuum.
Everything we experience is meaningful. And this is what we live for: experience... the verb. To go from indoors to the outdoors on a quiet and clear but cool winter’s morning, with a gentle wafting breeze and a park to walk in. Could we ever get enough of that? Does the memory of that ever fade?
And like a song that’s cherished for what God’s done in it – at its inception – these mystical memories we get to carry with us, God willing, right into eternity.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.