Rearview Mirror

Sunday Blog 125 – 3rd March 2024

A quick weekend getaway that involves a car drive has got me thinking. Primarily how much I dislike long drives.

It was just a bit over three hours, but with frustrating, almost incessant road work delays. I’m not sure if the detour Apple Maps suggested was in fact quicker, and the unfamiliar back roads increased my feeling of inordinate length of the normally easy drive.

How soft and spoiled I am. Just as well I’m not living in the Pilbara or Kimberley in my vast home state of Western Australia, where a round trip for bread and milk can take five hours.

I was heading to Margaret River, a place I associate with my dad as his beloved family farm is a short drive from there. And the last big family occasion my dad attended was in Margaret River in January 2020 – my niece’s wedding. By October of that year he was dead. Trips there now are ringed with nostalgia. The motel some of us stayed at when we all came down for the wedding evokes fondness in me as I drive past, even though it was just a three night stay.

Of course this weekend away can’t all be family and relaxation, there must be writing as well. Immersed in the messy process of revising my 2014 memoir, I watched a webinar replay on memoir structure facilitated by Lisa Cooper Ellison. And then I fell into the rabbit hole of listening to her podcast (Writing Your Resilience and I would definitely recommend!)

She interviewed author Laura Davis who read out the quote above “Every time I look in the rear view mirror, the past has changed.” This quote is in Laura’s excellent memoir The Burning Light of Two Stars: A Mother-Daughter Story. Which, needless to say I am now devouring. Truly my procrastination knows no end.

But this weekend I discovered at what point in time I want to start my revised memoir. This feels like a minor miracle, a rejoinder to a comment made to me some time ago by someone who read my memoir, “is this where the book needs to begin?”

But in and amongst all this driving, listening, procrastination and immersion into memoir structure I can’t stop thinking about the past, and how it shifts and changes. My lay understanding of how memory works is that each time we access a memory, we rummage with it a bit, change it, put it back.

What this means for me to be revising a memoir completed ten years ago but dealing with a single incident trauma from 22 years ago is yet to be revealed.

And so let the adventure continue.

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