“Shadows of Our Ancestors” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen
I’m not sure how I feel about so-called “ancient memory”; the qualities, gifts or understanding we may inherit from a forebear, though it is true that we certainly can inherit appearance, and certain other characteristics and mannerisms from those who have gone before.
To say that we do believe in ‘ancient memory” it would follow that if we happened to have a talent for singing, dancing, art or whatever, that it came from Great-Aunt Harriet, and not from the hours of hard work we put in every day. We could possibly just sit on our duffs and “let it come”. But I have a friend who believes implicitely that somewhere buried deep in our psyche, resides “learned memory” which can emerge with a little deep thought. Personally, I am not that deep a thinker.
The only concession I will grant however, is that the first time I plunged my hands into a pile of nice, gooey clay, I felt right at home. I was in the place I was meant to be.
Two hundred years ago, my ancestors operated a large production pottery in Devonshire, England, where along with everyday tableware, they manufactured the glaze used by the Doulton Company, which with a Royal grant, soon became “Royal Doulton.” Upon their emigration to Canada, they continued in the pottery business for many years.
Now I would never presume to believe that that is where my love of pottery came from, but then again—who knows?
It would be nice to think that through the years, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren may somehow “know us” as people just like themselves, people who stayed out too late, ran along the beach with a friend, snuggled with a lover, were funny and silly and made mistakes, and were nice to old ladies and dogs.
The door to the past opens creakingly, but I hope they peek through to the other side now and then.