Halley’s Comet travels on an elliptical path throughout our solar system. Its journey carries it from; a close encounter of the hottest kind with our own roiling star; to the blackest, most frigid corners of the solar system. It makes this journey about every seventy-six years. Its closest approach to old Sol is called perihelion. It’s at this point of its sojourn that this ghostly apparition makes itself visible to the, astronomically challenged, human eyeball. Since 1066, human eyeballs have witnessed this apparition twelve times, thus establishing a pattern. This pattern is how we know, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the comet will be back to see us again in the year 2061…or not. What if, somewhere out in the farthest, darkest, coldest reaches of our solar system, something happens; some disaster of epic proportions befalls our friend? How would we know? Well we wouldn’t know, would we? At least, not until the year 2061 arrived and, old Halley was a “no-show”!
Newton tells us that for every action, there is an “equal and opposite reaction”; the opposite action of perihelion is aphelion. Halley’s travel through the aphelion phase of its journey is like; you’re riding through the “hood” on a dark, cold, and stormy night; without a cell phone! Anything could happen, right? And, the absolutely horrible thing is that no-one would know until, after a period of time—hopefully not too long—someone noticed that you were missing. “Poor Halley, he was such a good boy; so reliable; so punctual, and now he’s gone” I can hear the “Street Committee” saying. “Lord have mercy; what happened to him honey? His future was so bright!” they’d buzz.
Some memories are like Halley. I experience them often. I experience them more, and more as I ascend the creaky, unsteady, and decaying staircase of life. Sometimes, just as quickly as a thought or an idea surfaces from the murky depths of my mind, it’s gone; just like that! Those of the hoary head; those above me on this stairway tell me, “Don’t worry, its only natural; we’ve all experienced what you are experiencing now. Just keep on climbing and learn to make notes and lists!” Well, I’ve learned to take their advice, but what happens when, even before I can grab a pen and paper, the idea or thought is gone; fleeing as if on eagles’ wings. Even worse, sometimes I succeed in making a note or list before the thought takes flight and then…forget where I placed the list. Oh Heavens! Where in dickens do these thoughts go? Oh memory, where art thou? What’s memory? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. Thou blossom is beauty to me yet thou thorns prick me sorely and what leaks thereof are my thoughts and ideas. O, be kind hither.
Where do these things go? Are they like old Halley on its elliptical journey through the solar system; travelling to cold, unknown depths and eventually, returning at dusk of a warm spring evening, like the fireflies that sprinkle the spring night with their tiny lights? Will they travel to parts unknown, returning to me some night, as my head rests on my pillow and sleep flirts playfully with my eyelids? Yes, perhaps that is it! After all, there have been times when, after giving up on retrieving a particular memory, it returns. It just pops up, seemingly out of nowhere! “Where have you been little thought?” I ask, but it holds its dark secret close to its vacuous heart; leaving me to ponder its trip to aphelion!