Daily Archives: November 20, 2008

Randy-a writer on memory and paying attention


Two Americans Illegally Crossed the Border Yesterday with a Thousand Year Old Buddha

Alor Setar, Malaysia. April 23
Caught with gold Buddha statue, Jeff Barns and Gertrude Barns, American citizens, today face prison sentences for what government officials call a brazen attempt to fence a priceless Hindu artifact.

The couple tried to enter the country without having the required amount of money and had spent three days in no-man’s land before handing an official the stolen likeness of Buddha.

 Barns admitted that he and his wife planned to sell the Buddha on the black market in order to pay for their trip home.   Today the Malaysia government yielded to a request by an official from Thailand and agreed to return the object.

      A front-page story is hard to ignore.   With it, there is documented evidence that the incident occurred.   To rely on memory is more of a gamble.   To rely on some else’s memory is even a bigger one, and, without paying attention, there is no memory at all.

       Writers use their memory, though memory can be faulty.   This I know, and as I age, it becomes more apparent.   Therefore, it’s important to write things down and retain those impressions in a written form.   A word here and there is often all that’s needed.

      Forty years ago, when my wife and I were on Subutu, a British guy was arrested for entering the Philippines illegally.   To me, it was significant that he had walked across Borneo, but many specifics about him are irrecoverable.   I didn’t pay close enough attention and didn’t take notes.   Now my memory is fading.   (Even our letters written to and saved by our families, my wife’s and mine combined, are not detailed enough.)   I wish I had taken better notes.

I’m out of time.  Randy Ford

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