A friend is losing her memory. It’s tragic to watch, and frightening. What does it mean for me?
I woke in the night, rose, and meditated, feeling my way, knowing I can’t control what happens, and ironically memories keep flowing in. I think of Annie Dillard’s words in her book, An American Childhood. “Living, you stand under a waterfall.”
She asks, “What does it feel like to be alive?”
Living, you stand under a waterfall. You leave the sleeping shore deliberately; you shed your dusty clothes, pick your barefoot way over the high, slippery rocks, hold your breath, choose your footing, and step into the waterfall. The hard water pelts your skull, bangs in bits on your shoulders and arms. The strong water dashes down beside you and you feel it along your calves and thighs rising roughly backup, up to the roiling surface, full of bubbles that slide up your skin or break on you at full speed. Can you breathe here? Here where the force is the greatest and only the strength of your neck holds the river out of your face. Yes, you can breathe even here. You could learn to live like this. And you can, if you concentrate, even look out at the peaceful far bank where you try to raise your arms. What a racket in your ears, what a scattershot pummeling!
It is time pounding at you, time. Knowing you are alive is watching on every side your generation’s short time falling away as fast as rivers drop through air, and feeling it hit.”
I sit with that today.