As I got off the phone with an old friend this morning, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being under some spell.
He had shared a video with me from 12 years ago when we were much younger, my daughter was 10, and my son was 6.
We had a picnic around a fire, cooking hotdogs, chatting, and enjoying a warm summer evening in Siberia.
As I watched my daughter’s cute chubby face chewing on the hotdog and my son’s frantic hopping and jumping over the fire, I teared up.
“This is Paradise,” I thought. “Why didn’t I see it then?”
“Paradise,” echoed my friend on the other side of the conversation.
“Hmm…,” I thought to myself after I hung up. “Why is it that we tend to see an experience as ordinary when we are in the middle of it? And when there’s some distance between us – whether it’s time or geography – it transforms into something else.
Why didn’t I see all that before? It was an ordinary evening. Yes, I enjoyed it very much, but now I almost see it as a doorway into some inexplicable magic. A picture of another world.
Is my memory playing a trick on me, so am I imagining something that wasn’t there?
Or maybe it’s the other way around – my memory shows me something that was there, but I was too close to it to see it for what it is.
“You can’t recognize a person’s face when you are too close to it,” said the Russian poet Sergey Esenin.
But how do I know that my memory is not deceiving me?
Owen Barfield said in his poem The Tower:
But many times, the secret-breathing world
Whispers to thee, yet whispers with a voice
Which memory shall warehouse as a shout.
This world is breathing secrets, but we often don’t hear its whispers until something amplifies them for us into a shout.
Our memory is that shout that amplifies the whispers that we didn’t hear.
But what are those secrets that we tend to overlook because we are too close to reality to recognize its face?Continue reading “The Effect of the “Distant Forest” in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Leaf by Niggle – Whispers Amplified by Imagination”