The way we were

Does everyone remember the way they were? Really and truly the way they were?

Do you, as I, hold in your mind that special, high resolution snapshot self-taken in one particular instant of perhaps long ago time? Where you and all else stands out sharp and true, an abstracted memory without meaning to anyone else but infinitely reassuring to you, yourself.

"What's it all about, Alfie", goes the song. Well, with such a snapshot you don't need to ask the question because you know what it's all about.

I'm not talking of remembering a particular event in your life, nor of a big news thing, nor of remembering an action or actions by you or by another or others, or what you or they looked like at the time of your snapshot or what you wore or how you felt, nor of how the weather was. I'm talking about remembering this true vision of your self by yourself within everything around you, framed within one instant of your life.

I'm twenty one years old and I'm walking along Cherryhinton Road in Cambridge. I've left in our furnished bedsit one young wife and one tiny, well beloved baby and I'm on my way to my new found job in the warehouse of A.W.Morlin & Company Limited, Builder's Merchants. I can tell you that's when my own snapshot was taken but I can't tell you anything else about it; not just because it's mine and mine alone but because I cannot actually find the words to express it.

No words? Well, imagine you're an explorer lost in the Amazonian rainforest when you come across a tribe, previously unknown to or by the outside world. When they've recovered from their shock at seeing this pale being, weak and wild-eyed and covered in the ragged remains of something called clothing they make signs for you to come into their village, take shelter with them. Over time you learn (and learn to respect) their ways and you even learn their language. In this way it becomes apparent that every member of that tribe is genetically colour blind. Because they have no word for 'colour' you try to explain to them what colour is. No good saying blue is the colour of the sky or green of the leaves of the trees. In their monochrome world such a hopeless explanation is to them a source of bemusement, even of amusement. So why bother?

See? You have your own snapshot; you have your own place. It's yours, not mine. Be content with it, as am I with mine, if you can.

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