Writing about the death of Neil Armstrong – first man to step on the Moon- got me thinking about our experiences. And suddenly it made be realise in a very emotive way (not just intellectually) what it means.. – even though I have been thinking about personal experiences for a long time (about 22 years in fact).
That long ago (22 years) when I wrote my first novel “Kitty Love”- a 300 paged teen romance fiction, and showed it to close friends, siblings and some cousins, someone said to me it seems a bit fantasy-like, and I should write from experience. That in so many ways `hurt’ – because yes I had had no romantic experience at that point and was writing `ideal love’ story (hence why it’s called `Kitty Love, as opposed to the old saying `puppy love’) – but I had also been writing that novel for almost every day for about 6 months, and become very attached to the characters, and even `fallen in love’ with them. They had become real. I would write a morning scene in the morning, a night scene in the night etc. So my experiences were encoded within it to a fashion.
Recently my wife April remarked how certain smells – like diesel & engine oil – often reminded her of the time when she as a baby lived on a house boat (well, in a river near Nottingham). I have many of those moments of sights, tiny sounds and smells triggering old memories (torrential rain reminds me of my boyhood holidays at grandfather’s place in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, where I would sit in the porch and look out and even make paper boats and float them in huge puddles in the vast garden!)
Going back to Neil Armstrong standing on the moon – when that had happened, it had been the very first ever time. Thee would have been absolutely nothing else to equate it to in the entirely of human history of many million years! Though am sure he’s talked about that moment and probably got fed up of it after the first decade or so, he would not have been able to truly portray that experience to anyone – short of having telepathic abilities and literally projecting those feelings into the minds of another human being. And we on earth don’t have that just yet.
So, for as long as Neil Armstrong was alive, that exact experience existed as a feeling and as a memory within him – that moment with all its associations, memories, feelings, whims, expectations, fears (lets not forget fears!) and all that. And when he dies, all that is gone. What the Earth lost was that moment now. No one on Earth now has that moment.
This rather reminded me of two film/ movie moments.
- The first is a line in Doctor Who (Peter Davison as 5th Doctor) “The Five Doctors” almost 25 years ago. In one scene, he staggers with physical shock and pain, and says, “..It’s all fading..great chunks of my past, detaching off like iceberg. A man is a sum of his memories you know, and a Time Lord more so” . He was referring to the fact that his past incarnations were being `taken out of time’ and so his `self’ was reducing.
- The second is an all time classic in the film `Blade Runner’ – where in the penultimate scene, the android who has been doing all sorts of things in other worlds but is hunted down on earth – says (just before his life force expires as programmed), “I’ve seen things people would not believe. Attack ships on fire on the shores of Orion. I watched sea-weeds glittering in the darkness in Tannhauster Gate. All these moments will be lost – in time – like tears in the rain. Time ..to die..”
- See both clips here on my playlist `Movie moments’