This is a guest Post by J. Kevin Morris.J. Kevin grew up in small-town Mississippi and Southern California.With degrees from BYU and the University of Utah he has served professionally as a school psychologist, public school administrator, behavior consultant, and executive director of a non-profit human service agency.His first book, Strangely Normal: The (Mostly) True Tales of an Incurable Oddball, is available now for purchase. You can connect with J. Kevin on Facebook, Twitter and his website.
Let’s talk about remembering.
I don’t know about you, but I remember everything. Well, probably not everything and maybe not even everything that I should ““ but lots and lots of things. Especially about my youth.
And sixties music, of course.
Pete: “Happy Birthday.”
Dorinda: “It’s not my birthday.”
Pete: “It isn’t?”
Pete: “You mean I forgot your birthday again?”
Dorinda: “No, this time you remembered it wrong.”
Risk of imprecision aside, I like to remember. I want to remember. I believe it’s important to remember.
Oh, I know. Not every memory’s a happy one. Some are relegated to the farthest reaches of the psyche ““ purposely, to languish and disintegrate into some feeble, formless mass that can never trouble us again. And putting aside those dang high school yearbooks, this strategy’s often successful.
That said, I still believe it’s important to remember.
And I’m a brave rememberer. I just ain’t a-skeert.
Take, for instance, the memory of my four-foot-eight-inch body. No, not in fourth or fifth grade, where it belonged, but in tenth grade, where it had no business being. Over the years I’ve tackled, tamed, tenderized, and transformed the taunting terror of that Lilliputian image into something toothless. Something friendly. Cuddly, even.
I’ve learned that when I handle memories in this fearless and proactive way, mastering and shepherding them into a manageable perspective, even the toughest, trickiest, thorniest recollection can prompt a smile.
And so I find little kinship with Cary Grant’s Barnaby Fulton character in Howard Hawks’ movie, Monkey Business2, and others of his ilk who recall youth with disdain, not fondness. “I’m beginning to wonder if being young is all it’s cracked up to be,” Mr. Fulton moans. “We dream of youth. We remember it as a time of nightingales and valentines. And what are the facts? Maladjustment, near-idiocy, and a series of low-comedy disasters ““ that’s what youth is. I don’t see how anyone survives it.”
Little kinship, indeed. I look back at my youth and smile.
But what in the name of out-of-print volumes, you might ask, does all this ““ or even any of this, for that matter ““ have to do with composition?
I’m not sure I know. I’m only just beginning to understand authorship myself. But to anyone who feels a prompt to put pen to paper I recommend the introspective, humorous approach. Write about what you know about. About what you care about. Write about how you were. About who you were. About how the who you were came to be the who you are.
That way, if no one publishes your work you can still have it printed and bound for your children and grandchildren. In this gift they’ll have a most marvelous journal account of your travels through life.
And in the writing of it, you’ll have enjoyed a most spectacular ride.
1Always. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Universal Pictures and United Artists, 1989. Screenplay by Jerry Belson.
2Monkey Business. Dir. Howard Hawks. Twentieth Century Fox, 1952. Screenplay by Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer, and I.A.L. Diamond.