Wednesday, January 9, 2013


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This time of year is one that sends most people back though memories of the past year as we try to determine what we're going to do better in the future. We all share memories of big events--the space shuttles, elections, the fiscal cliff, graduations, birthdays and on and on. But I think it's more than just the "big" memories that matter. 

Anyone remember the way the sun looked as it slipped into the sea off of Mallory Square in Key West before the cruise ships started docking there? The street musicians, jugglers and crowd of tourists and residents alike who stood in the dirt next to the docks, drinks in hand, socializing until the sun dipped closer to the horizon? And the cheers and clapping that erupted when the last sliver of golden orange disappeared?

How about walking through the halls of your elementary school? Having orange-belted safety patrols yell at you to stop running? How exciting it was to head to the library to agonize over which book to check out to read? (Okay. I admit it. I was an unrestrained book lover even then...)

I have a theory. "Big" memories serve as the anchors as we look back over our lives. They keep us grounded in time and space and provide framework. But the fullness and richness, the warp and weave of the tapestry of our lives, is made up of flotsam and jetsam. The discarded bits and pieces of memories that we normally race through or past as we zip from appointment to appointment, to work, to pick up or drop off kids. 

Some of my favorite flotsam and jetsam memories include remembering how really cool Marjorie Keenan Rawlings' writing tabled looked and how the old wooden porch slanted away from the house and the hollow echoe as I walked on it. I remember how it felt to sit beneath the Earman River Bridge and talk the afternoon away with a close friend while we munched on penny candy. I remember glancing out of the corner of  my eye at Bryant Park in Lake Worth and seeing a couple of stones and wondering just what the heck they were. It's signing up for the Worldwide Photo Walk just to wander around downtown West Palm Beach by foot with a camera.

My New Year's challenge to you is to try to catch those pieces of flotsam and jetsam and hold on to them. Don't let them drift away on the tide.

For example, next time you're sitting at a traffic light, really look around at what surrounds you. One of my favorite corners that brings back a forgotten memory is U.S. Highway One and 10th Avenue North in Lake Worth. Tuppen's marine supply store is on the northeast corner. Sitting there waiting for the light to change looking at their painted sign, I can remember walking around the store with my dad. My brother and I were allowed to dig through the bin of brightly colored rubber bait worms. We could each choose one to purchase. I have no idea where any of those worms ended up, but we sure enjoyed flicking through the little slightly sticky pieces as we searched.

I suppose in the overall scheme of things, little rubber worms and Rawlings' wooden porch are not all that big of a deal. But as part of the tapestry of my life, it's these types of memories that add the deep, rich colors.

I'd love to hear from you from time to time this year. Let me know what pieces of flotsam and jetsam you manage to salvage from your busy life. My bet is it won't take long for you to have a shipyard of sparkling bits and pieces to take out and smile over when tough times come along. 

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