Time and Memory

The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band has been remastered and issued to celebrate its original release a half century ago. Fifty years is a considerable amount of time during which a lot can happen, and indeed it has. While I understand the abstract nature of music engenders a more direct connection with emotion, making for a most effective trigger of memory, I was, quite frankly, unprepared for the memories the album triggered in me.

The triggering of memory has always made me somewhat uncomfortable, I think, because I feared becoming someone who lived more in the past than the present. I cringed at the idea of  standing around talking about the “good old days,” or being lodged with nostalgia in a rocking chair  “till in the end, close of a long day” (as Samuel Becket put it).

But I’m beginning to realize that just because you have a rich memory doesn’t mean you’re forfeiting living in the present. No, it simply means you’ve lived a life, and that being able to remember much of  that life, is a gift with a bit of wisdom that might be helpful in getting us through today and tomorrow.

Stuyvesant Town is now seventy years old. So many of its remaining original tenants have rich memories which contain compelling stories and insights. What impresses me most about talking with original tenants is their appreciation for the complex despite the withering away of many of the things (e.g., a real sense of community) that made it so special. If you have the good fortune of encountering a long term tenant, ask him or her to share some of those memories.