About two years ago I came home from work and my husband told me he wanted to show me something. He led me outside to the wooded yard across the street and directed me to look at a baby deer, curled beneath a brush. “Isn’t she beautiful?” He asked. She was that strange auburn color of all baby deer, tiny, and her flanks were speckled with white flecks that looked like dapples of light. She was dead; and yes, she was beautiful.
I noticed little green flies all about her body, leaping up and regrouping at every disturbance. They loved her eyes, which were glassy and focused on something beyond everything. I’d never been so close to something so fragile, her legs tangled in themselves like a child’s neglected doll, or a collapsed dancer. We decided to bury her.
The ground across the way is unforgiving, but it was kind enough that day to let us scrape out a shallow grave for her and lay her inside. The mound of earth atop her covered body was a point of interest for the dogs for a short time, but the grave was never disturbed.
This morning I took a pot of soup that can no longer be eaten out to those woods and dumped the remainder between a few fallen logs. In front of me was the dry, shriveled, brown skeleton of our last Christmas tree. Just behind me was the now flattened mound under which that little deer is buried. I stood and marveled for a moment at how easily these experiences disappear in the woods – the Christmas tree resembles it’s former self only in my own memory, and nobody would ever know that a tiny, speckled deer is buried just before those crossed logs.
Nature grows and with time it covers and conceals and absorbs. The human mind is not this way; it grows and absorbs and distinguishes, flagging individual moments to become memories, unique stitches in the ever-expanding fabric of experience.
You might never guess by looking at my husband and I that a year and a half ago we were in Thailand, training in Muay Thai and building familiar out of unfamiliar. You might never guess that underneath the movements I make now are the muscle movements I carved into my body for hours each day in unbelievable heat, through endless (and satisfying) fatigue. Time has washed over those experiences, filling in the spaces, smoothing out the lumps and drawing color from the images; but they are there in the heart and in the mind, like the beauty of that speckled deer, or the love and joy that one feels for the brief month in which one hosts a living tree within his home. Out in the yard the overgrown snapshot of a wooded area became distinct, dissecting itself into different moments in time, separate experiences in one space; and as I walk away from it and these days pass, it will again collapse into one time and one space again, just as I do. Memory is a powerful gift and a beautiful catalyst for propelling us toward new experiences, new spaces, new times that always become us.
(For more photos and a beautiful blog entry by my husband at this event, click here)