I’m sure this happens to most people.
Once in a while, an experience – no matter how brief or insignificant – becomes permanently lodged in your memory and can be envisioned at any time.
Like a grain of sand caught inside an oyster, I like to think of these memory bits as mind pearls.
My earliest mind pearl involves a mundane Mr. Bubble bath at the age of three with my pink elephant bathtub scrub brush.
I can also easily recall, around the same year, the exact moment I dramatically caught a neighbor’s horse in our front yard.
Some mind pearls are upsetting, like the second I saw my dog break through ice on the lake. Others are baffling, like a colleague (decades ago) who showed me a New Yorker cartoon at my desk… inexplicably stuck in my head forever.
The best mind pearls are the ones I treasure and make me smile. Like the time I traveled to a big city book conference and got lost.
I had taken the subway from the airport, but hopped off one stop too soon. And the GPS on my cell phone couldn’t locate anything between the tall buildings.
A woman hurrying toward me glanced up and caught my eye, so I asked for directions to such-and-such avenue.
In her lovely, lilting accent — revealing her foreign roots — she pointed back and forth and left and right, but could see I was confused. So she generously offered to turn around and show me the way.
During the past two weeks, the turmoil in our country has worried me… but I’ve thought of that woman’s kindness often, and notice I’m smiling more at strangers, holding doors wider for strangers, hoping to find the way forward together.