I woke up a couple of nights ago with this thought:
What if every sternum was a door that you could swing out to reveal the six precise memories that have had the most formative influence on a person? What if you could reach your hands inside and take them out, one by one, and roll them between your fingers?I imagine that these six memories would be concentrated, like juice, to resemble something like chess pieces that you can roll around in the palm of your hand. Imagine if you could handle the chest-pieces of another person to discover who they were, rather than trying to negotiate the said/unsaid of language (and our heinous ability to understand our own selves and then communicate that understanding).
Every time I get the train now I stare around the carriage and try and guess what each commuter’s chest-pieces would be. Would one chest-piece for the bikie be his first tattoo? Or would one for the woman in the three-piece business suit, who is incredibly small and slender, be the moment she realised she could never be a professional ballerina?
Only this morning I was struck by another question: what if these six pieces were lined up before you the moment that you died?
If I was to die today I would have sitting before me
- the moment I knew that I had played something perfectly on my cello, which felt like molding water in mid-air.
- floating weightless in the ocean and holding onto the boy that I loved, whose eyes were the same colour as the sea.
- the last time I saw my grandpa, my idol, who was dying in a hospice.
I’m not sure what my other chest-pieces would be. And, of course, my current chest-pieces may be replaced, in time, with other formative experiences.
This idea is going to need some stretching.