Isak Dinesen, author of “Out of Africa”, in her short story “Echoes from the Hills”, talks about Juma, a former house boy grown old. “An old man by the name of Juma from time to time would come up to the old house and ask permission to walk the grounds, to think, there, of the time that had once been, and for an afternoon would walk on the paths beneath the tall trees and then again would disappear. It was believed that he had come along a rough grass-track winding into the Masai Reserve – a long way for an old man to walk in order to meditate on the past.”
A past that had now become a part of a “Dream World”. A world where conscience is subverted to imagination and memories. Recollections that become shaded and hard to determine which was really real and which was nothing more than perception of that time, memories that make an event or place “bigger than life”. A thing I have learned is that one can never go back to a place from the past and regain the splendor that one recalls that place to have had. That particular past is like a dream, gone and hard to remember in total accuracy.
So the question arises: What is reality? Could it be just imaginings of the mind? Is history real, or has fantasy played a cruel trick upon the recorder’s psyche? Especially events of centuries ago, have, perhaps, been embellished beyond actuality. I know how present day occurrences are mis-reported and how legends spring forth – one who has personal knowledge of an event, cannot recall things happening in the way the event was reported.
We cannot own or control anything for long. We seem to be mere transients upon this world’s stage. That which we do, when we are gone, will be just a figment of other’s imaginations. At one time I existed. Was my life and the lives of past family members real or just a dream long past?
I live in an old, intriguing brick house on a small farm. The yard consists of about 4 acres. My parents, now deceased, planted the original yard and since those days my wife and I have greatly enlarged upon the trees, lawns, and shrubbery. It is now difficult to remember how it used to be – real, or is it remembered with a grandeur that wasn’t true? All the work and care expended can be erased so quickly, after some new proprietor takes hold of the reins. Because it was my parents, I have never felt like I completely owned it. The burden of what will become of it weighs heavily upon my conscience. It will all be a dream, hard to recall in detail.
My college athletic past and notoriety shrunk from view so fast that it makes me think of the song that says: “The things we did last summer, I’ll remember all winter long”. Gone in the “twinkling of a calendar year”! Years of school teaching and coaching are fading more slowly, but I now have a hard time recollecting any but a few special students and athletes. I was the driving force, so how would others, less committed, remember those days?
An obsession of my elderly years is wildlife photography. But what will all this concerted effort come to when my time is over? The photos will have to be exceptional if anyone, or school, would want even some of them. Their ultimate destiny, like school notes so carefully taken, will be the fire.
How much good has a person done that might be remembered? That is a valid question. The scope of that worth depends on the opinions of others. In the end it will become a “Dream World”. Perceptions of that past world will be as varied as each individual dreamer!