Like all human beings I have memories lying dormant inside a memory bank that resides in my head. Mostly they lie unopened but they spring into life when triggered. Its like they are always on a constant loop inside my mind just waiting.
There can be something on TV. Sometimes it is a song. Sometimes someone says something. Whatever – a trigger always seems to be sprung easily and memory comes flooding out.
I would explain that my life is littered with regrets. Most that I would like to forget. Some are bitter sweet but are worth remembering.
There is a certain Road in Ferntree Gully that triggers feelings of regret. I cannot help feeling bad. I am reminded of how I treated our eldest son when I was teaching him to drive.
Tom had asked me to help him learn to drive. I had taken him to a large car park where we could practice parking and maneuvering. This worked out satisfactorily. He then asked me to let him drive home and as he seemed to have the hang of it I said yes. We drove up backstreets to keep away from traffic and off the main roads. Finally we came to the turnoff that led to the road that took us to our house. This particular road was narrow. Halfway along there were small traffic bollards in place to slow the pace of cars. Tom hit one with the right hand front Tyre as we went through.
I winced and Tom could see I was upset. I had made a groaning noise. I actually groaned out loud.
Tom apologised. He smiled regretfully as he said it. Instantly I knew I had done the wrong thing and I regretted my actions. I had criticized my son for a minor misdemeanor. There had been no damage done yet I had acted as if my property had been damaged. I was giving a higher priority to my possessions than to the feelings of my son. I had made him feel bad. I was showing that I had more concern for my possessions than him.
The irony was I normally raged against certain relatives who also had these failings. I had grown up surrounded by people who had felt that property and possessions were the most important thing in the world. I did not want to pass this culture on to my children. Yet here I was exhibiting it. This incident went into my memory bank to wait until triggered and would always come out to haunt me and remind me of my failings.
My next two children paid for their own driving lessons. Maybe Tom had warned them. To to my knowledge Tom has never attracted the attention of the Traffic Police. As an adult he certainly gives more importance to his children than to his possessions.
The words My Toolbox or the mention of the word toolbox are triggers in a similar way.
Whenever I see a toolbox or hear the word I am reminded of our second son.
When our second son was nearly two years old and not yet talking the television suddenly went off. This was a crisis. I went to the back of the TV and started to tease out the aerial wire. Before I had finished James had arrived back and was offering me his own tool box. He had received a toy tool box as a Christmas present and although he could not talk he knew what I had said. He knew his toy was indeed a tool box and he was offering it to me. He was showing what a wonderful generous heart he had. He was genuinely offering his help. And he was doing this silently.
He has not changed in 30 years of life. He is generous and helpful to a fault to whoever he knows. He still normally offers his generosity in silence.
The sight of The Simpsons on TV are a trigger that remind me of our third son. Our children grew up watching The Simpsons. We first watched them when they were a fill in on The Tracey Ulman Show.
When our children were babies it was I who decided that they should have dummies. My wife was a no nonsense type of women who initially saw dummies as a crutch that children did not need. I knew that suckling was important and that dummies did have some effect. None of our children became addicted to dummies and all voluntarily gave them up when they were old enough to reason the situation. James said he would give up the dummy cold turkey on Christmas Eve and he did. Alexander said he would experiment but would promise nothing.
Alexander did experiment and we thought his dummy was a thing of the past. But one night watching The Simpsons the plot focused on Maggie. Now Maggie does not do much except suck on her dummy. After watching Maggie suck on her dummy Alexander left the lounge room and went to his room He re appeared sucking on his dummy. He even sounded just like Maggie. He had been reminded of the pleasure of sucking on his dummy and thought he would experience it again. He indulged to the full in sucking. We could even hear him. The TV had reminded him of the pleasure of sucking a dummy.
Alexander still has the same attitude. He can reason his own problems and likes to think through issues in his own life.
The Simpsons have been another trigger. When the children were teenagers I felt that it was important that they were acquainted with classical Indian Music. I prepared a tape of Ravi Shankar to play in the car. I played it expecting the normal complaints of - why do we have to listen to this - why cant we play a tape of ours?
Instead they listened for several seconds in silence. They then broke into excited conversation.
They all recognised the music. They even knew the name Ravi Shankar. They then proceeded to remind each other of the plot of The Simpsons episode where the Concert for Bangla Desh is parodied.
Whenever The Simpsons appear on TV in the presence of my children they cannot help but remind me that they knew about Ravi Shankar before I could take it upon myself to educate them. Their memories are triggered and they cannot help but remind me of how they had it over me for once. This reminisce is accompanied by a lot of good natured schadenfreude chortling.
Originally written for 'Triggers' topic in November 2019