Skin and Bones and Memories

The other day I was reading an excerpt from “Writing Life Stories,” by Bill Roorbach with Kristen Keckler, PhD, and this paragraph struck me:

“And—I’m just realizing this—memory is what people are made of. After skin and bone, I mean. And if memory is what people are made of, then people are made of loss. No wonder we value our possessions so much. And no wonder we crave firm answers, formulae, facts, and figures. All are attempts (however feeble in the end) to preserve what’s gone. The present is all that’s genuinely available to anyone, and the present is fleeting, always turning instantly to the past.”

People are made of loss.

That’s a powerful statement. I feel the truth of it in my chest, in my heart, in my belly. Even as part of me resists it.

And. The present is all that’s genuinely available to us.

People are made of loss. Of disconnection. The good news is, Memory is how we maintain connection to what – and who – has gone away. Grief is the emotion of that disconnection, and Joy is the emotion of connection. So memories can make us laugh through our tears.

And. The present is all that’s genuinely available to us.

One of life’s paradoxes, where more than one thing can be true at once.

I have learned to embrace that paradox – to embrace the grief, with its happy and sad, and to embrace the here and now. Fiercely.

At least sometimes Fiercely. Sometimes Fiercely is required, and is its own satisfaction. And sometimes gentle Relaxing Into It is possible. Even necessary.

We are made of memories. All we have is The Present.

I have learned that when I am able to embrace both the loss and the Here and Now, without hiding, then I am able to also release.

More paradox. Sorry. *winks*

PS, March 31 2014: And then there’s this timely post from Wayne Wirs to consider: Paradox resolved?

How would embracing this paradox change anything for you?

Please tell me in the comments.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

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7 Responses to Skin and Bones and Memories

  1. Janie March 30, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    I so agree….it’s cathartic to honor the tears and get that ‘good cry’ which produces the ‘sunny day after the rain’ effect…..clearing for new hope and a new day by living in the present. Seems like ‘that need to honor’ never is truly gone – which is a good thing, because the ‘changes in your weather’ are preferable to the nothingness of a parched desert (aka numbness in your soul).
    Hi Susan! Hope you’re doing well!

  2. Square-Peg Karen March 30, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    Love this, Susan! I’m reminded of the words of Emily in the play, Our Town:

    “Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”

    When my son died (almost 24 years ago) I knew that that feeling (living the paradox) would never go away; I’d realize EVERY, EVERY minute how wonderful the present is. But I don’t –

    I can’t even imagine what embracing the paradox 24/7 would change for me; but I know that the times when I’m IN it are so, so precious!

  3. Birdy Diamond March 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Hear ya on the ‘sorry’. :>O<:

    So much here and only flying by briefly. Enough purr-haps to say that yes, and 'I hear you' and 'yes, it calls to me too'.

    Chirp, chirp! 🙂

  4. Susan T. Blake March 30, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    Janie, love that! “…the ‘changes in your weather’ are preferable to the nothingness of a parched desert.” Thanks for stopping by! XO

  5. Susan T. Blake March 30, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    Karen, thank you! Yes, the times we’re conscious of being in the paradox are precious. XO

  6. Susan T. Blake March 30, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    Hi Birdy, thanks for landing on this branch for a moment! XO

  7. Sheila Bergquist May 19, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    I’ve only experienced the paradox a few times, but fiercely wish I could have it all the time. I know it would help me with my current struggles tremendously.

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