Way back at the end of the 1980’s decade I went to work for a company in Tennessee and the woman I reported to introduced me and my wife to this hot country singer from North Carolina named Randy Travis. At the time his song Deeper then the Holler was all the rage but as we learned more of his work I found that his earlier recording of Diggin’ Up Bones spoke of a truth many of us could relate to.
I’m diggin’ up bones, I’m diggin’ up bones
Exhuming things that’s better left alone
I’m resurrecting memories of a love that’s dead and gone
Yeah tonight I’m sittin’ alone diggin’ up bones
I did a little digging myself yesterday being home alone and feeling down while making and canning some pickle relish and mixed-pepper relish from the gifts of this year’s garden. The previous night I had an extensive dream sequence in which I had reconnected with a girl from my junior year of high school who, in the dream, was no longer seventeen but a white-haired woman of sixty-two. It was an age appropriate dream as I will be turning sixty-two myself in a month and she was, after all, eight months older then me. Well, as the relish was simmering on the stove, I sat down at my computer and typed in her name with the only results being a California birth record from Christmas Day in 1953.
I went on to type in the name of the girl who was responsible for that serious broken heart at seventeen that I wrote about on the occasion of my nephew’s seventeenth birthday. Quite unexpectedly several items appeared including her Facebook page where she had recently posted her 1973 high school graduation picture, which rekindled memories of a few good feelings that preceded the heartbreak. As the relish simmered, and my heart remembered, Diggin’ up Bones echoed through my mind only to be replaced by the words to the Eric Andersen/Lou Reed song You Can’t Relive the Past. As I scrolled down her Facebook page I was struck by how much her recent photos looked like my memory of her mother and I thought that she had grown into her mother.
At our ACIM meeting on Saturday my dear friend attempted to explain to me that I do not have to reach into the past for the pain to be able to write and that I could get all the inspiration I needed from the joy found within the here and now. I thought about her advice and after a time I told her about that high school romance that her parents did not permit to exist because she was Japanese and I was not and that I would not be willing to trade the blossoming sweetness during that first semester of my junior year for eliminating the pain of the day she told me of her parents demands. A day that drove me to my counselor’s office to tell him I hated high school and wanted to dropout. A day that he convinced me to take night and Saturday classes for the rest of that last semester of my junior year and graduate a year early.
I was taught in school that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. I do not know how well that applies to the human heart but I can attest to the fact that every one of my heartbreaks altered my life’s direction and led me to where I am today. Do I have regrets? I’d like to meet a human being that doesn’t. Will I stop digging up bones? Probably not, because between all of the pain and sorrows grew the joy and happiness that can still today ignite the spark of memory, a smile, and occasionally a tear.