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re·treat/riˈtrēt/ part 2

Earlier this year, I posted about retreating. I was deep in the Italian countryside, lolling about and generally enjoying life, living in the moment. I had always thought retreat, part 2, might be a travel blog, describing some wonderfully unknown spots I’ve been lucky enough to visit. Now, here I am in NYC, as each day gets a little colder and the evenings are drawing in, I’ve discovered something that’s always been there, I’ve just never used it in this way. My memories. My mind. A place to constantly retreat. As I  grew up in rural England, New York has become a haven of undiscovered memories for me, triggered by my senses……wonderful Autumn weather in the park, the smell of open fires, a wintery sunset, and the smell of roasting potatoes.

Despite this newfound love of delving into memories, NYC is still offering me new fun each and every day. For instance, a few weeks ago, it snowed. In October. The earliest snowfall NY has seen in 120 years. It’s unheard of. Seeing as I haven’t actually had any snow for ten, and my dog has seen none at all, our house was a very excited place on this particular Saturday morning when giant, perfectly formed snowflakes started to shower outside our windows. Before long there was a soft white blanket forming on the cars, trees and along our street. What a perfect Autumn treat.

I really could not contain my excitement. I felt as though I was five years old again, running up and down the stairs and getting more and more excited as it continued to fall.  It appeared I was the only one in the house, street, neighbourhood, and probably city who was this excited.

What I didn’t stop to think about was that the untimely snow was not a welcome visitor. Once the snow and cold does set in – we are likely to have it for a few months. This, I am not yet prepared for. I wonder how I will cope with up to several feet of snow, will I remember what it feels like to run in the sand, feel the warm sun on my skin? These are becoming distant memories for me, as are many other things. Places I might never go again, people I will never see.

Instead of allowing memories to make you feel sad, or miss things even more, start to look at your mind as a great big old book full of stories from the past, that you like to re – read. Old projections of films that you might let flick across your  eyes, or big boxes of old photos that are fun to look through, giggle at, and cherish. These are all locked away, and if we really concentrate, we can start to re – remember things we thought we had forgotten. 

Sometimes, it’s nice to just settle down with a cup of tea, or snuggle up in bed… and remember. And in the name of synchronicity, my dear older brother sent me some wise words today, that are simply perfect.
“To transfer happy memories from the past into the present is a good way to survive difficult times and allow cloudy days to become emotionally stable. This is because you get intensively in contact with the moments of happiness in your life. It is not about a wistful recall. The aim is rather to gain strength and confidence for the present.

To do this, close your eyes and think very deliberately and intensely about a beautiful experience or a breathtaking moment of happiness in your life. Use all your senses and visualize a very specific situation, a location, a smell or a song as much in detail as possible. You will see: This can really make you happy.” Unknown.

A thought for today, Wednesday 30th November 2011, take a moment, to remember someone, something or somewhere you might have lost in time. Enjoy the memory. It will last forever. 

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