You have friends and their lives intertwine with yours. They are part of your world and you imagine they always will be. But then the time comes for your paths to diverge. You promise to keep in touch. “We’ll see one another often.”

Somehow you lose contact and in the throes of a busy life you hardly notice. From time to time you remember the past, chuckling over the jokes and growing dewy-eyed about friendship. Remember Joe? He was my special friend. What a sense of humour; he was always smiling. And he was so kind.

One day, thinking more seriously about the past than usual, you wonder what Joe is doing now. He must be out there somewhere. Does he ever think about the past and remember our times together? Would it be possible to find him? After all, we have this Internet thingy now.

You search and after a while a name pops up. Could this be Joe? It sounds like him. The dates are right. Yes, it must be him. You send off the email and wait nervously for a response.

At last the reply arrives. It’s Joe all right. “Sorry not to reply sooner but we have been busy of late.” Joe remembers you, of course, but as he tells it, you were one of the gang, a face in the crowd, rather than a close friend. His story differs from yours though there are points in common.

After a successful career, Joe has become complacent and a little unctuous. “If ever you are up this way you must come and visit us.” You reply in the same terms but you know you never will.

The excitement of finding Joe slowly dries up, leaving a husk of nostalgia behind. The Joe you knew is still there in the depths of your memory – he gives you a cheerful wave – and it is hard to recognize him in the new Joe.

When I was young, the old folk used to say “Never go back.” With the wisdom of my youthful ignorance I thought this silly. Why not go back? It’s fun and friends are always friends. As time passes I see that the old folk were right. The past is another world and we cannot travel there. We could not live there even if we could access it.

Our dwelling is in the present as it hurries endlessly into the future. There is no harm in looking back sometimes and enjoying the memory of happy times and good friends but the present is where we live. It is the garden whose fruits we harvest day by day.

The past is a graveyard and our memories the flowers on the graves.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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3 Responses to Remembrance

  1. emalyse says:

    Very poignant. Life really is very short and we can all be guilty of unintentionally severing the invisible bonds of friendship as we each change our location, partners, job, priorities and available free time.

  2. Ted Marcus says:

    I’ve had the very same experience whenever I’ve indulged in what I call “archeology.” Lives diverge with amazing rapidity once parted by geographical or family circumstances. At times it can take only a few years (or less) before the divergence has obliterated to quaint irrelevance whatever we once had in common; it’s something that becomes painfully obvious immediately after the perfunctory catching-up.

    I suppose this phenomenon is the inevitable consequence of a society that values mobility and transience above all. It’s perhaps a small price to pay for the many blessings the associated progress has bought us. But it’s undoubtedly unnatural and probably unhealthy for a species that evolved to live in close communities but now inhabits cities of strangers. Long live progress!

  3. SilverTiger says:

    There is something is this effect even with people with whom you keep in touch but see only from time to time. It is as if you see their lives as a series of photographs with noticeable changes occurring in the spaces.

    It demonstrates, I suppose, that we are the sum of all our experiences and therefore change from day to day. As long as our friends are part of the experience, we remain in harmony with them but when our lives diverge that harmony is lost.

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