Memories of Sleep

Sometimes Memory is the most comfortable place to be. I can choose the one I want and go there at will. The ones popping unbidden to mind are not always the comfortable ones, but when I choose, it’s likely to be the sweet or funny one which gives me a chuckle or a moment’s respite from what seems like an ever speedier swirl of change.

I’ve always heard people my age now grouse or at least comment that change is everywhere. And I think as I always have, “that’s our job.” From babyhood onward, we are constantly adapting to the changes and perhaps we just don’t move as quickly later on in life and so feel the pace more keenly. I love to dilly dally along the path and notice all the bits, familiar and otherwise, but then I can’t remember not being a dawdler.

I prefer to hang around the booth with the beads or fibers talking with the makers even if I miss a good deal of the market that day. So spooling back to the sweet or interesting times which have stuck to my psyche is one of my favorite patterns of daydreams. Weaving the threads I find into a little different pattern is a pleasing pass time as well.

What I’ve come to know in the recent years about the past was given to me by cadres of wise women who said “you cannot allow the past to rule you or define you and expect to keep growing.”I bridled. And it took a lot of mulling to figure out why.

I understood words like “letting go of the past” to mean leaving it down by the road and not looking back. I equated all the old habits and ways of going with the bundle of baggage we carry unnecessarily sapping our energies for the journey. I am a skipper so I like not to be too weighed down.

The rub came with my belief that we are made of our pasts. I didn’t want to be all new. I wanted to bring the parts I cherish with me and still be ready to go on with adventures. Eventually I found my error. No one was talking about denying or leaving the past behind; what I heard was filtered through my own experiences and fears.

What I gleaned was this: if my choices now are made because of past habits, choices or beliefs, without seeing they can be made in a present context, then I am steered and even ruled by the past. The door to my box is still closed and I am inside.

If I can see each choice fresh in the present and still apply what I’ve learned, I get the benefits of both experience and a new chance. And it has been easier to know I am the one who chooses what to bring on this road. My bundle is much lighter now.

One of my favorites, especially in the full moons is going back to being read the Dutch Lullaby by Eugene Field. Our copy (1940) was illustrated by Malthe Hasseliis and I have adored it for as long as I can remember.

It was a snuggle poem, always read aloud and last. I recall the words could make pictures to carry me off with sleepy eyes under heavy lids. Indeed, Field was the poet who taught me the word “counterpane.” Love it still. See if this doesn’t rock your boat softly.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe —
Sailed on a river of crystal light,Wynken Pic
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.

“We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!”
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea —
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish —
Never afeard are we;”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam —
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea —
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

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3 Responses to Memories of Sleep

  1. Toddi says:

    Love that poem, always have. I always hear your voice and intonation reading it to me. You are/ were an awesome “older” sister. “Now cast your nets wherever you wish – Never afeard are we;” We had wonderful images pop in our heads because we lived on the beach, we cast nets, we rocked in boats, we played in twinkling foam. We didn’t just hear the words of this poem, we felt them. Ohhhh and the illustrations in that large book … imprinted in my mind forever. Thank you for reminding me.

  2. ‘If I can see each choice fresh in the present and still apply what I’ve learned, I get the benefits of both experience and a new chance.’ Perfect, Ginny! So enjoyed this piece. And the poem—a treasure.

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