This week the idea was to pick a photograph and use the prompt "I remember thats the one where"
THAT'S THE ONE WHERE
There’s not much in the photograph. It’s in black and white and apart from a seagull. There’s only me in the shot. It was taken on the pier at the Isle of Man. I think at this point I was still preoccupied with the seagull, but the reality is that when the photo was taken, I didn’t exist.
Don’t get me wrong I’m physically in the photo. I’m very smartly dressed in my new coat, shorts and sandals. I’ve got my bucket and spade and my hair is flowing in the seaside breeze. You can see the wind must have been blowing in my face but I’m not there. I didn’t feel the sea air wafting over me, and I didn’t see the seagull which seemed to captivate me in the photograph either. I couldn’t have because I hadn’t arrived yet.
At that point I had no idea of the abject terror I was about to be subjected to but then again, I have no idea if I had any clue about anything then. I must have known things. I must have been aware I had had a mother. Maybe even a father but I’m not sure. Did I really know anything about my younger brother, my home or any other aspect of my life? Whatever I had known was a mystery. I can’t say I’ve lost this knowledge, but I certainly hadn’t retained it.
I was about to arrive. Just after that photo was taken, and whatever mind I had was no longer focused on the seagull, was when the terror hit me like a lightning bolt. I was alone for the first time in my life. Whatever security had kept me wrapped up in a blanket of mere existence was ripped away and I panicked as my first memory, of my being, hit me like train.
So, my first ever thought that I can remember was thinking I had lost my mummy and it shook me into being. Thankfully my mother hadn’t lost me, as she had only stepped back a few feet to take the picture but in that moment, I was created as a person as my first thoughts of terror jolted me into existence. I thought and therefor I was. In that split second, I arrived on the planet. Where I had been before was irrelevant. I have no memory of it but now I can remember forgetting the seagull. I’m alive, I’m lost, I’m on my own and I’m frantically searching for mummy. I was forged as a person at that very moment in time.
The photograph kicked about in the family archives for years, but I never saw it until I was about 14. I knew right away that even although I was maybe 2 or 3 in the photo, that was the day I was born.
Some psychologists claim that your first childhood memories are a key factor in how your personality is developed. Maybe feelings of panic and terror should have turned me into a nervous, frightened person who sought security over everything else, but I don’t think that was my blueprint. Whatever way I turned out, I don’t worry much about my personality, but I do wonder how much longer I would have existed without a mind if I hadn’t experienced the terror which thrust me into world.
I might have missed the fun when the old Dan Air dakota that brought us back from the holiday caught fire on its approach to Glasgow and everyone on the plane was filled with terror but I just peered out the porthole window fascinated by the red and blue lights which screamed along the runway to tackle the fire on our portside engine. I thought and therefor I was, without terror I was nothing and it quite literally allowed me to experience life.
A psychologist would probably have a field day with that photo of the little boy who arrived all alone in the world and was no stranger to terror but that was the one where I learned I had a life and I have been living it without regret ever since.