Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg
Coming to the apex of SaddleBrooke Boulevard after making the last curve on the road into SaddleBrooke, I could feel my face break into a smile but it wasn’t concerning the beautiful and breathtaking panoramic view of hundreds of homes in the valley below. It was seeing the voluminous cloud formations that were pouring over the jagged Catalina Mountain Range. One formation in particular caught my eye; astoundingly, it was similar to that of the Mobil Gas iconic logo Pegasus. The memory that it brought back…
When I was a little girl my bedroom was on the second floor of our home and, at night, I could look out a window and see the neon Mobil Gas red horse shining in the night sky. I thought about this as I proceeded down the hill and into our community.
However, within minutes, the cloud formation began to disassemble and float away, becoming part of all the other puffy cumulus clouds in the cerulean blue sky. Seeing the cloud horse reminded me of how many simple things make up our long-term memories.
I recently finished astronaut Scott Kelly’s autobiographical book, Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery. In it, Kelly recounts his memories of everything he was looking forward to seeing and experiencing again after a year on the International Space Station. To the degree that Kelly went to space at all is a story of which miracles are made.
Kelly did not have a stellar academic record; however, in college, Kelly was inspired by reading Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, a fictional account of the lives of astronauts. Another inspirational book, after which Kelly named his autobiographical book, is Endurance by Alfred Lansing about Ernest Shackelton’s historic expedition to the South Pole, during which the crew cheated death after their ship was trapped in a polar ice pack and endured 850 miles of heavy seas on small lifeboats. For a blue collar New Jersey child and the twin son of an alcoholic cop and a strong mother, these two books were Kelly’s lynch pins to his improbable career in space.
In the book, and during the waning days of his time on the Space Station, Kelly recounted his simple memories of what he loved during his time on earth: being with people, the feel of sheets on your body, the weather, the sun and breeze on your face, apple pie, a beer, a dip in the pool (among many other items and experiences). Indeed, upon arriving at his home, Kelly marched directly through the front door, out the back door and right into the swimming pool while he was still in his flight uniform to again be submerged in water!
Our memories serve to capture our past feelings, sounds, smells, tastes and experiences. And isn’t it great that we have these memory “anchors” in our lives? So think about a vivid childhood memory or that last holiday dinner your mother prepared. Isn’t it just wonderful that we can hearken back to these precious memories? This I have learned…