Remembering different than not forgetting

Well we just celebrated another Memorial Day, which was established as a national holiday to give us an opportunity to remember those who died in all our wars. We use the holiday now to remember all those whom we love who have passed on before us. A memorial is something that commemorates or keeps remembrance alive. The term comes from the Latin, memoria, which translates as memory.

Most of the dictionary definitions of memory show it as something that remembers or recalls in the present; a person, place, thing or event from the past, operating similarly to computer memory. These definitions are misleading for a few reasons. A computer memory has no imagination, nor is its memory colored by emotions in the same way as human memory. Also, human memory engages in the still poorly understood process of forgetting. A computer memory can lose data, but it does not forget in the same systematic way that human memory forgets.

None of these dictionary definitions discuss future memory, which is a collective memory or a collective consciousness. This would be an instance where a memory would not be found in our individual or personal field of awareness or plane of consciousness, but exists in our memory, nonetheless. This is the poetic domain of myth, or the poetic expression of a world view existing in the memory of a society. Because something is mythical does not imply that it is untrue; that would be a corruption of the term.

Joseph Campbell, one of the foremost mythologists of modern times, in his seminal book, “The Power of Myth,” has stated, “The image of death is the beginning of mythology.” He describes how the earliest evidence of anything like mythological thinking dealt with death.

Any dream is typically a personal and individual memory and the experience of the deep ground that supports our consciousness, whereas a myth would be poetry that represents a more public dream or society’s dream — i.e., collective dreaming. Society and its memory was there before us and society and its memory will be there long after our own death. We are part of a larger future memory.

If you are reading this column, you have probably not had a personal experience of your own death. Your death will take place at some future time. On the other hand, you have experienced of the deaths of those around you, especially those whom you have loved, enough to know that your own death is placed in the context of your future memory.

To continue celebrating Memorial Day, let’s first remember all those who have fought valiantly for our country. They are true heroes who died and continue to die bravely for the American dream/myth so that we might retain our precious freedom.

Secondly, let’s remember all those we have loved and have gone before us in death; mothers, fathers, spouses and children.

Finally let’s remember our own death, even though it hasn’t happened yet. We should live every day like it is the last one we have to live, because we already have in our memory the fact that one day — someday — we will be right, and that day will in fact, be our last day. I know it’s in the future, but do you remember?

Michael Hickey is a local writer and poet who lives in Pelican Bay and Swampscott, Mass. His book, “Get Wisdom,” is published by Xlibris Div. Random House Publishing and is available at 1-888-795-4274 Ext. 822, at, or your local bookstore. E-mail Mike Hickey at

For a Soldier

By Theresa Hickey

In the harbor sailboats lie in


some white, some gray,

their spars

like candles tall

upon blue icing of a

cake-like sea;

so many dot the bay

this day,

they toggle and bob

displaying restless motion

as they uphold the sky-

They wait in anticipation

of weekend revelers, who

come to chart them toward

more open waters, sail

them off

where currents pulse

and surge.

This morn there is a

quiet here,

with only soothing

rippling sounds-

a peace I wish that you

could know,

brave soldier far away. In

my thoughts

I think of you so often, off

defending, daily tending

to my freedom.

I pray that If I could

I’d give to you this carefree

day I have before me

with its sea breezes gently

blowing through my hair.

Then you could then be

sitting, waiting,

watching boats,

as they are drifting,

drifting calmly on the bay.


By Michael Hickey

Non che rosa sensa spina;

Every rose has a thorn

Reaper harvests after


Death follows being born

Any life in all its glory

shines within a shadow cast

Each one tells a story

But curtain falls at last

Think not just of rose’s


Think also of its seed

Leaving is a duty

Earth calls to those in need

Rose, in need of dying

After living with the thorn

Seed, in need of rosing

Earth, but mourns and


© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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