Mythos & Marginalia

life notes; flaws and all

j.g. lewis

original content and images ©j.g. lewis

a daily breath...

A thought du jour, my daily breath includes collected and conceived observations, questions of life, fortune cookie philosophies, reminders, messages of peace and simplicity, unsolicited advice, inspirations, quotes and words that got me thinking. They may get you thinking too . . .

I'm like a pencil;
sometimes sharp,
most days
other times
dull or
Still I write.

j.g. lewis
is a writer/photographer in Toronto.

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Of Memory And Memories
Posted on September 30, 2015 by j.g.lewisLeave a comment

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What we think of today is not necessarily important, but what is remembered tomorrow most certainly is.

Information flows at a faster rate than ever before, in a volume greater than we are able to control, comprehend, or absorb. Scientists have resolved that human beings take in five times as much information than we did 30 years ago; the equivalent of 175 newspapers (given the dwindling size of today’s newspapers, this comparison is indeed subjective).

Not including what we take in on a need-to-know basis in our working lives, it is estimated we process more than 100,000 words, or 34 gigabytes of data, daily, exclusive of the idle hours spent in front of the television, or clicking away at video feeds on our laptops, tablets and mobile devices.

The impact of this information overload not only impacts our memory, but our memories. I am fascinated not only by what we can remember, but also by what we forget.

The human mind is an amazing commodity. We can marvel at what we, or others, think of, but even more remarkable is where our memories come from, or how they are stored. In the most simplistic terms, our memory is a filing cabinet where we tuck away thoughts with scraps of knowledge, addresses and directions, useless facts, and an assortment of utter bullshit. A more digital representation is one of folders and files we store on our organic hard drive.

It was once thought there was a central point in the brain that stored all this data, but developments in recent years indicate there is not one particular place, but memory is distributed, albeit inequitably, throughout our grey matter. Further confusing is that several parts of the brain must work together to remember one simple task.

Remember the adage It’s like riding a bike? Well, that alone requires the brain to use several components of this stored memory. The recall of the body’s physical motion comes from one part of the brain, the memory of how to operate the bike from another. It becomes further complicated when you throw in the reason you climbed on the bike in the first place, and decide where to go (the nature of how much thinking is required to ride a bike further reinforces the need to wear a helmet).

So why do we remember what we do? And why do we forget the important stuff, or what may have been important at the time? Age, and absorption of facts and figures, does enter the equation, but it still does not account for both the trivial and important information within our recall.

For instance, I cannot remember many (read most) of the periodic table symbols I was forced to commit to memory in high school, but I can remember brand logos of ski equipment, beer, and record labels from the same era.

I can’t remember the name of the company’s recently appointed regional vice-president (whom I have met twice), yet I can easily recall the name of original Police guitarist Henry Padovani, or the redheaded girl I had a crush on in Grade 7. I remember her address, her brother’s name, and, damn it; I remember the hurtful words telling me I wasn’t the one.

The names of musicians who played on hundreds of albums easily come to mind, but I cannot list all of this country’s prime ministers. I remember all 14 victims of the Montreal massacre (and can’t forget the man responsible for the slaughter), but could not tell you an equal number of newspaper colleagues I worked with at the same time.

My phone number from 40 years ago, or 20, is lodged in my head, but I can’t recall numbers I dialed regularly as recently as two years ago. Granted the convenience of storing the digits on a mobile device has made life so much easier, but that’s beside the point.

I remember my sister’s birthday ever year, but usually forget to send a card.

It has to be more than selective memory for, if that were the case, I’d remember more of the better and far less of the worse. Also, the short-term and long-term rationale seems to be hit and miss. Why do we remember what we do, and why do we retain some of the useless stuff (see above Police guitarist) and allow the important information to get lost in the files and folders within our minds?

There is a theory of limitations about what we can take in during a day, and much of the time the internal files fill up or become corrupted by the useless questions, comments, and responses that just happen every day. Do you need room for dairy in your coffee? Do you have a rewards card? Do you want fries with that? Can you spare a dollar? Slight, random, seemingly innocuous interruptions, that are not only harmful to the thought process, but they hinder true progress or performance.

It’s like trying to squeeze an extra 4.0 gigabytes of data into the 16 GB on your phone, or jamming another 156 pages into a 1.5-inch binder; there simply is not the space, and you will have to take something out to fit it all in.

You also have to remember to leave the important stuff where it is, and not overlook its importance as the new material comes along.

With all these questions, all this information, coming at us, we are forced to put aside what may be truly important, just to get through the day. We also have to decide if it is important, or valuable, enough to be remembered, while we are paying attention to what we truly need to know.

Once remembered, will it be remembered when it needs to be remembered?

I believe that in dealing with the daily decisions, directions, and distractions forced upon us, as it comes at us, we seldom take time for mindful thinking and processing of what is truly important. There is not enough meditation or contemplation; just outright sitting and thinking of what needs to be thought, and not struggling with in-box clutter and credit card statements that simply prove what we bought.

If forced to think, or over think, make sure you find time to make some of the thoughts good. If it is important, make sure it is more than a memory.

©2015 j.g. lewis


She Said
Posted on September 23, 2015 by j.g.lewisLeave a comment

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All she asked was for honesty, occasionally cab fare, and
a knife to cut the crusts from her sandwich.
She had no expectations, always washed her dishes, and
made the bed each morning, so as not to leave a trail.
She arrived with June.

Summer began, as summer does. You always know
it is coming and then, one night, it’s just there. She was there.
She said she wanted a summer love, the kind you would read about
in vintage magazines or a Harlequin paperback. Uncomplicated.

Unplanned, as it was. A patio.
A bartender, a warm breeze and a bottle of Malbec,
then another. The ream of bangles on her wrist chimed
with each movement. Her eyes shone bright,
but hid an untold sadness.
I didn’t have a type, and she wasn’t it, yet
she insisted she was.
She said she would prove it, almost as if it were a dare.
Many days were
daring adventures you would know nothing about
until you were caught in the middle.

Jazz clubs, after hours, because she knew a person
who knew a person. A foreign film, without subtitles,
or an evening at the Fringe, on a whim. Picnics at Sugar Beach,
wicker basket full of import beer, consumed quickly
from paper cups.
We rarely made plans. She was routinely late,
and blamed it on her father’s wristwatch. It needed a new battery,
and a cleaning, she said.
Sometimes you like it slow, when there is no place to go.

The universe has a plan, she said. Sometimes we
are not in control, although we like to think we are,
or would like to be.
I was more the planning type.
In my button-down world, things had a place,
although I was never quite sure of mine,
nor was I sure the universe would follow through.
So I tried to plan.

Romance. I tried to do my part.
Flowers were appreciated, she said, but an unnecessary expense,
easier liberated from gardens in late-night strolls through
unrecognizable streets and parks. Not fond of daisies, she said
she always ended up with the love me not. Black-eyed Susans
were her favorite. Lovely, and common, she said.
They could withstand the rain,
and the heat.

August heat.
She could convince you, with an unexpected phone call,
that a beach was a better place than a desk to spend the day.
Paperwork could wait, there’d always be more, she said,
but sunshine,
and summer for that matter, was in limited supply.

My honesty was not hers. She worked evenings, and later,
knew her wines, loved the tips, and enjoyed her job,
but that’s all it would ever be.
A few credits short of a useless degree, she said
she was too young to have a career. Her mother had a career.
Her father died when she was a teen, so Mom was always working.
A career never allowed for fun,
she remembered.

Maybe, after kids, she said,
and then
would then say nothing.
She had tried, once before,
with the husband and the house.
He was older, as well. A lawyer. She was wife number two
and spent most weekends alone while he said he golfed,
or tended to the kids from wife number one.
Or was, more likely,
on the search for soon-to-be wife number three.

Trust was her nemesis,
and truth rarely worked in her favour.
She’d said she had spent too much time alone, and
walked away from a relationship that promised nothing
and provided even less. If she were to be alone, she would do so
on her own terms.
Her terms included a downtown apartment
with more clothes than closets, and few close friends.
She adored dresses from the Sixties, hairstyles
from last week’s magazines, music that was now,
and would rather go barefoot than wear shoes without heels.
She walked her bike
more than she rode it.
It’s harder in a skirt, she said, and even more difficult with heels.

She rarely answered, or charged, her phone. Showing up
when she wanted, waking me with a whistle from the street;
the kind of tomboy whistles my mother would have detested.
Or she would sweet-talk the concierge
into letting her up.
Middle-of-the-night grilled cheese paired with one particular Bordeaux,
or another. Prosecco with scrambled eggs, or Zinfandel, because
it was chilled, and went well with the humidity,
and the colour of the clouds
at daybreak.

I woke once at 4 a.m. to find her naked on the terrace, the spray of the summer
showers dripping off her hair. She said she wanted to feel the rain on her skin.
She wanted me to feel it too, and brought her storm to bed.
The pillows will dry, she said.

She thought nothing of interrupting and would, often, correct my verse
with words that wouldn’t fit. Often, she said, my poems were about her
and I wouldn’t reply, as I knew they couldn’t be.
A muse has to play with your heart as much as your body.
There was not the time.

Summer ends, as it does. Cooler nights hint of autumn,
the new girlfriend smell fades, you tire of sand in the sheets,
panties left drying on the shower rod, and music,
if not of your generation, then of your choosing.

All I wanted was honesty, at least with myself, and a knife
to cut away patterns preventing me from seeing what this could be,
instead of what it was. Spirits wilt slowly with the Black-eyed Susans
in the melancholic mood of mid-September.
She said the universe does have a plan, but one
I wouldn’t accept.

She was like poetry, and had become a distraction.
While I spent time noticing the flowers, or savoring the taste
of new wines, I had been putting aside what was important.
Should you simply accept the convenience offered,
you may never know a deeper taste, greater love,
or the likely truth.


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Wealth Walks And Poverty Sleeps
Posted on September 16, 2015 by j.g.lewis // 2 Comments





It speaks of history, arts and culture,
and the ever-changing socio-economic
trends. A longtime destination, Toronto’s
Queen Street West is more than just a
street, and far more than a neighborhood.
Retail rules in a curious blend of
commercial and residential, everything
and anyone is out on the street. Musicians
perform for passing strangers, artists show
their craft, and crafters show their wares.
Poets offer words to those who will listen,
and fashion is right there; in stores or on
the people. Ethnicities mix, and cultures
collide, in food and drink or otherwise. It’s
cool in the clubs, late night on the street,
shoppers shop, and everyone eats.
Wealth walks and poverty sleeps.


















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