Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Lesson Among the Strawberries

Late last summer, bent over a row of strawberries in my parent's fabulous garden an interesting conversation developed among the trio of pickers. Sugar and I were there for a little summer visit, and like most evenings "on the farm" there were chores to be done. This particular time of year is spent gathering the harvest of the garden. Sugar Bear LOVES this time of year at Grandma and Papa's house. She is an exuberant helper, and literally enjoys the fruits of her labor.



As my parents and I went about picking strawberries, Sugar went about eating them. I casually mentioned that I was feeling tired, and glad that the Strawberry patch was considerably smaller than it used to be back when I was growing up. My dad sort of chuckled, and remarked, "It isn't THAT much smaller! You are just bigger!" Although I am much bigger than my childhood self, truly the strawberry patch was quite a bit smaller as well. Feeling a bit chided, I uttered something about the 10 rows of strawberries from back in the day, and my dad nearly jumped out of his boots to inform me that we had NEVER.....EVER had that many rows of strawberries, and I was ridiculous for exaggerating so. A little shocked by his recollection, I stood and said, "Ummmmm yeah Dad.....we did! I can hardly forget them. I spent many an evening out here picking strawberries! I quite easily recall the rows being so long that we'd only get through about 3 a night. Then the next night we'd do 3 more, and so on. By the time we finished the last row, there were new strawberries ripe on the first rows, so we'd start over, and round and round it went." At this point, my father also stood, and began to contradict me. "That is crazy! What are you thinking. We NEVER had that many rows, and to be quite frank, YOU RARELY HELPED IN THE GARDEN! I should know, I was the one who did EVERYTHING. I planted, weeded and picked. You and your brother were too lazy to lift a finger! arghhhhhhhhhh I can't believe this!" He really got quite huffy about it....and I was taken aback. My mother kept right on picking strawberries, and quietly said, "Well, I was there as well, and I remember it much like Corey, actually!" Let's just say....it went down hill from there. A rather lengthy conversation ensued. It became pretty apparent that even though we were all present in the same household, each and everyone one of us have a different perspective on "how it really was!" While my dad insisted that NONE of us helped, and he did it all, my mother and I recall helping A LOT! There was no convincing any of us differently. We simply agreed to disagree, but I am certain we walked away from that conversation harboring a bit of resentment.

Like any child, I was not always EAGER to help out around the farm. I'm not sure exactly what age this attitude emerged, but I am guessing somewhere around the age of eight or nine. At that time I began to feel like I had better things to do than help around the house, and it wasn't FAIR, that I had to do all the things my parents wanted me to do. It was their lousy garden, NOT MINE! I don't even like vegetables! I don't care if the grass was tall, so why do I have to help mow it? And so on.....Why? Why? Why? I had TV to watch, books to read, and friends to talk to on the phone. It just wasn't fair. Sigh......

I have carried my personal childhood experiences regarding the family garden into adulthood. In fact, there was a period of about 5 years where I would not even touch a strawberry, let alone eat one. Those summer evenings spent picking strawberries, and the subsequent consuming of said strawberries left me completely and utterly SICK OF THEM! I didn't care if I ever saw another strawberry in my entire life. Eventually, I came back around to them, and sometimes actually enjoy a few, but in all honesty, they will never be a favorite again. Too much emotion is tied into those darn things. Although strawberries seemed to take most of the heat, the entire idea of a garden lost all appeal to me. I have sworn that I would NEVER have a garden. NEVER....... EVER! (Stay tuned for a follow-up post regarding this vow.)



That late summer evening, I found myself wondering, how on earth could my dad not remember how much I helped? How could he think that he did it all? That is NUTS! A few days later, when visiting my brother, I asked him to share with me his memories of our family garden. It was no surprise that his recollection was very similar to mine, and our mother's. I relayed our father's thoughts on the subject, and my brother was equally perplexed by the inaccuracy. It just didn't make sense. We came to the conclusion that Dad is just getting old, and I'm sure Dad came to the conclusion that the rest of us are just plain idiots. Sigh.....

Upon further thought, as I can rarely let things go un-analyzed, I started to soften my heart. I started to think about what makes a memory a memory, and what makes us recall certain things so vividly, and yet others slip away. It was then, that I began to contemplate the weight of perspective......the significance of attitude.

If one felt the "unfairness" of having to participate in the family garden so deeply, could it possibly affect memories of such? Could the sheer negativity surrounding those events, forever tarnish those memories? I have to wonder, if that strawberry patch in my mind grew in comparison to what it actually was due to my childhood feelings of the enormity of the tasks the garden presented? Could the fact that my brother, and often my mother shared my feelings of reluctant obligation to the family garden, contribute to our shared memory of said garden? Did our not wanting to help somehow affect us so deeply, that we see it as the work was unending in the garden? More so.....could my father's memories be affected by the fact that as a work-a-holic, the garden didn't seem like such a heavy burden to him, and was completely and utterly annoyed by his children's lack of interest, and poor work ethic? Did all my whining, and crying about having to weed, and pick beans, and plant corn drive him to such a point of madness, that when looking back he feels as if he was left to do it all himself? Did my not wanting to help somehow affect him so deeply that he now sees it that I never did actually help? I mean seriously....how could we have all been in that same garden years ago, but remember it so very differently now?

So many questions here, and in true Corey fashion, I have started to wonder what else in my life could this be true. It can really make you second guess your impressions of your childhood. Too bad my parents weren't as photography as obessed as I am, or we'd have some photographs of that family garden to actually see whose memory is more acurate, right? I'm afraid it is one question that will go unanswered.

In the mean time, I'd like to apply this newly found knowledge to my life somehow. I'd like to acknowledge the power of attitude, of perspective, and how it not only directly affects the present, but how it could possibly distort the memory of it. There is power in perspective. I have thought this for some time now, but more so today. I have the ability to not only enjoy my life more, but to enhance my memory of it. I have the opportunity to fix my attitude NOW, and have it directly affect my future. THAT IS BIG STUFF FOLKS! BIG!!!!!

14 Live It or Love It:

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

Oh, I feel your pain! That it turned out being an argument and with all of you feeling resentment instead of all of you recognizing together "hey, we just remember it differently, colored by our own perspective" is so HUMAN. And being human can be such a pain. You know what's funny? My parents had a huge garden too, and my sister and I helped SOME, but not a great deal. And there was pressure and a few arguments with my parents over the helping, yet, now that all is said and done, I MISS that stinkin' garden, and all those lovely fresh vegetables, and would dearly LOVE one of my own. And oh, to have fresh strawberries... Sigh.

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Corey, I love your new Header, it's awesome... your strawberry photo of sugar is adorable.

Laura said...

Great new banner, Corey! The colors are gorgeous, as is the picture. :)

What a great post! I love that I can learn life lessons of my own by coming here and reading about the ones you're learning. Thank you for being so insightful and so committed to living the best life possible! It's incredibly inspiring!

Autumn said...

Corey, I love, love, love this post! I think you are so right in the attitude changed everyones perspective on what exactly happened. I just recently had a simular experience, but there was video to prove that I was wrong! I still don't understand how my memories were so different than what really happened. I mean my memory was so clear and yet so wrong. LOL

Lindy said...

memories- funny things! Although it is a shame you've been turned off to strawberries!!

Childlife said...

What a thoughtful post, Corey... I think you're right. Attitude is really important in perspective. My family has had similar disagreements over memories -- we usually end up laughing and agreeing to disagree when it happens. At least Sugar's childhood will be well photographically documented ;)

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

Very good, deep, thought-provoking post. I often think about how much our memories are shaded in and colored by our perceptions of what was happening at the time.

Good stuff, friend.

Carolyn said...

This is such a wonderful post. I love how you moved the memories forward into an analysis of the way perspective, emotions and attitudes might affect those memories. Great stuff. It reminds me of how when a police officer takes statements from witnesses of a car crash in an intersection, it is usually the case that absolutely nobody sees the same thing. It all depends on which corner you were standing on at the time of the crash. This is like your memories of the strawberry patch. Sounds like you and your dad were standing on different corners at the time.

Mama Zen said...

Perspective, all perspective . . .

holly said...

oh praise the jesus i heart so much. it's about damned time. i didn't know how much longer i could bear your attitude as it was. all that...um....what exactly is wrong with your attitude? is it that it's too uplifting. yes. darn you for being so uplifting. you really should fix that...

or something. . .

okay, i'll be serious. you are right. you can change your life for the better by making adjustments to how you view it. but seriously, how saintly do you need to get?

if you get *too* perfect, my evil ways will just taint your blog and you'll ask me to go. then i will cry and all the tears will ruin my laptop. i'm sad just thinking about it.

sorry, i lack the ability to be serious for extended periods of time. like more than a sentence.

MamaGeek said...

A-men to that. But you know what - that smirk she is sporting in the picture IS PRICELESS! Love it!

thingsyoudidntdo said...

There is most definitely power in perpective!! I was thinking about that the other day after I cooled down a bit about our posting to Cold Lake. How 5 years ago when we thought we were posted there we were actually excited...yet now I'm totally bummed. How is that? But my perspective now is coming from 5 years on the west coast - not a whole life time in Ontario.

Can't wait to hear more about your thoughts on this one!

secret agent mama said...

That's not just BIG, it's HUGE. Wow.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Corey, did I tell you you are amazing? You're amazing. x

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