As I continue to get up there in age, I’m finding my recollection of life events similar to looking through a zoom lens – the further along I go, the greater compression there is.
Case in point, my nephew is about to enter high school. Yet I have this memory, from what seems a very short time ago, of a much smaller version of him in a shirt and diaper, excited about taking me on a tour of his new home. I can clearly see him, and almost hear his bare feet, as he runs up the little hallway towards me.
Of course, it’s no different with my own son. He’s about to enter Grade 4. Yet in my mind, I feel little sense of time separating memories of him as a baby sleeping on my wife’s stomach, as a toddler riding in a backpack during a hike around Lake Louise, in his preschool years playing store with hands full of wood chips at Fletcher Park and so on.
Certain memories of my own grade school experiences also remain in clear focus. Such as the voting day, when our elementary school’s gym served as a polling station, and a few of us little monkeys got on the gym stage, behind the closed heavy curtain, and ran at the curtain, swinging out over the heads of voters. I remember being back on that stage as a mouse, with black paper ears and drawn-on whiskers, and as a jack-in-the-box for Christmas concerts. And the rainy day I walked onto a pile of dirt left in the back of the schoolyard during a field renovation, sunk in over my knees and cried for help to get out. I remember playing T-ball in that field with the YMCA before the grass was traded for gravel. And ball hockey in front of the school.
With this chronological flattening of school memories, most of the bad or embarrassing ones (yes, even from high school) have taken on a certain charm, while the good ones, of friends, fun and games, and even learning, have become heartwarming, and I am grateful for the compression, or whatever it is, that keeps them near.
Of course, now is time to focus on our future generations, to let them have their own school experiences to learn and grow from, and one day cherish in memory.