There Are Things I Remember

Yesterday I braved the torrential rain to meet a new friend from one of my networking groups for coffee at Diesel. She’s unemployed too, and so we got to talking about various ways we spend our oodles of time. Turns out that one of the things she likes to do is observe what people do while on the T. Reading material, general demeanor, other interesting things humans do to amuse ourselves while in transit. We had fun exchanging stories about strange things we’d seen. One of her finds, however, was simply fascinating.

A couple of weeks ago as she rode the Red Line, she noticed a woman looking down at a detailed timeline. This timeline had the names of teachers, friends, events, and other memories. So far as my friend could tell, the time line appeared to be from the woman’s own life, and while my friend knew she shouldn’t look, she couldn’t help herself. As the line drew toward the present, there was just one name, a man’s name, in big letters.

“She was wearing an engagement ring,” my friend said. “That must have been the guy. Maybe she was trying to come up with something to say at the wedding?”

Structuring one’s entire life to lead up to meeting one single person, even an important person like a future spouse, seemed corny and misguided to us, but we started talking about creating timelines of our own. What would we include on it? Would we do it from memory, or surround ourselves with photographs, yearbooks, old cards, etc.? How honest could we be with ourselves? After all, there are some points in our lives that we would just as soon leave to the past. Would we show it to people? Who, and why?

Last night I thought some more about trying this. I haven’t decided if I will, and I haven’t answered those questions, but the idea intrigues me. Creating a timeline of my life might prove immensely therapeutic, or it might send me spiraling downward into a deep depression, depending on my frame of mind when (or if) I sit down to the task.

In entertaining the idea, I can think of some memories that would make me howl with laughter, and other that would make me smile. There are a few things I would have a hard time committing to paper. I’m not sure if I would show a complete version to anyone. I rather like the idea of doing it from memory and then going back to check the facts. Or, maybe even create two different timelines: the one I carry with me, and the one indicated by the evidence. Insights found in the differences between the two could be illuminating.

Like I said, I’m not sure if I’m going to do this, or even if I really want to, but the idea was interesting enough that I thought I’d share it. What about you? Does the idea of making a timeline of your life interest you? Terrify you? Bore you to tears? If you were to try it, how would you go about doing it? Would you show it to anyone? Why or why not?

OK, that’s enough computer time for today. I’m going to go out and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Gotta get out there if the timeline’s going to be interesting.

5 responses to “There Are Things I Remember

  1. I think you should definitely make a timeline. I would consider doing it myself, but I don’t know if I would show it to anyone, and I’m not sure what I include beyond the obvious—lived here, went to school here, married here,…

  2. being unemployed sucks balls…….

    I hated it, got very depressed…….which didn’t really help much

    you’ll be fine though….

    [runs off to tell boss how much I like him]

  3. Robyn, I know what you mean about not sharing the full version. Talk about personal.

    Manuel, I’m not depressed about being unemployed. Maybe I should be, but I’m not. There are other things I can think of that I’d rather not put down on paper, but losing my job isn’t one of them. I’m happy you’re employed, though. Hope the boss bought the buttering up job.

  4. Sassy, I think a timeline, in the sense of a linear chronology, is an exercise rather than an exploration. The sum of a life is greater than the parts, or the moments, and while one graphical axis might represent time, another might represent meaning, or feeling, or moments of revelation many years ‘after the event’.
    What I’m getting to, perhaps, is the idea that life is constantly filtered through the present moment and that only an imaginary fate or destiny leads – after the fact and by construction, to a given event.

  5. Mr. M likes telling me about the people watching he does on his bike. The latest was the dude smoking outside the psychiatric hospital.
    After each puff, he smacked his head sharply three times.
    Ah, people.

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