I’m not on Facebook. It’s not for me. It’s enough dealing with people from the present; I don’t need people from the past reappearing.

I don’t remember a specific experience that taught me that the magic of a memory can be doused if you try to go back to its place or participants. But I learned that lesson somewhere along the way. I have intensified relationships with people that, as time went on, I’d at least kept touching base with, but I’ve never made a cold call to people I haven’t heard from in years.

Although Thomas Wolfe’s short story, The Far and the Near, isn’t about trying to bring a magical moment from the past back to life, it is about messing with perceived magic by trying to make it actual magic. The story, linked below, succinctly shows what can happen if magic that’s encased in place is disturbed.


I remember when I first became aware of this.  In the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, I more than liked The Incredible String Band. They were like my religion. I’d spend hours in a trance absorbing their albums.

When they performed at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre, I went with some friends.

I enjoyed the concert in one way—as a social event. But in another way I was devastated. The band that was the calming salvation to me during a troubled time in my life was now a thing apart in the distance. Around me were the distractions of other people. Unlike Thomas Wolfe’s character, the near—my turntable and incense burner—was my magic. Those colorful hippies down on the stage were giving a great show in NJ, but I wanted to go to Nirvana.

Back to being encased in time…

From grades 3 through 8, the same kids were in my class. I still remember some of their birthdays as they come up every year. I have a special place for the memories of classrooms, jump rope, hopscotch, the cafeteria menu, and various funny incidents. But I want to keep them in that place.

About a year ago, one of my sisters was contacted on Facebook by one of my old classmates who had a couple of pictures from our fourth grade class trip. Enthusiastically, I asked my sister to give her my email address. Within hours, I received two pictures. Except for one girl, I remembered everyone in the photos. I will treasure those pictures always.

I emailed my classmate back with a big thank you, told her what I was up to, and said it would be fun if she wanted to give my email to other classmates. Meanwhile, I googled her name and found out some cool things she was involved in.

I never heard from her again. I had tried to be witty, warm and engaging in my email. What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t she like me? I asked as a middle schooler all over again.

We all need some magic. And we don’t need to be in a Twilight Zone episode where junior high never ends.

Respect the magic of things where they are. Find new magic in new places.