As a child, I can remember having sudden feelings of great happiness and well-being. These feelings didn’t manifest themselves too often but when they did they were most over-powering. I remember one was when I had decided to walk to the shopping centre near to our home when I was around 12 or 13. It was during the summer holidays from school and I was bored and at a loose end; not knowing what to do with myself. For this reason I started to walk to the shops when suddenly I was elated, happy but for no reason I could understand.
Another occasion was on the morning of my 16th birthday. I can understand anybody being happy on their birthday but this was different. My birthday is in October, a month I don’t normally like as it usually heralds the first feelings of winter. On this day it was cold, despite the sun shining brightly, and the leaves seemed to have fallen from the trees earlier than normal. I was on my way to school – not my favourite place when I was a teenager. Again, suddenly, and for no reason I can imagine, I had the same feeling of delight.
I can remember those two occasions as if they were yesterday; they are that clear in my mind. There were other similar occasions which brought about the same feelings but I cannot remember the details in the same exact way as these two days. One of the other times was when I was around 15 or 16 and I was lying in bed on a Sunday night listening to the radio under the covers way past the hour when I should have been asleep. The music was good, the DJ was a favourite from those days – Arthur Murphy – when suddenly that feeling was back.
I have always remembered these occasions and sometimes try to recapture the feeling by going through the thoughts I was having on those days and looking at the mental picture of the day in my mind. Alas, it is an elusive feeling which I have never, in adulthood, been able to recapture.
I seem to remember Van Morrison saying in an interview once that he experienced childhood feelings which he has spent his adult life trying to recapture through spiritual reflection but had failed. I am not sure if what he was describing was similar to my feeling but many of his songs seem to hold memories of his childhood happiness and his longing to return to those days of troublesome youth. “A Sense of Wonder”, “Hymns to the Silence”, “On Hyndford Street” and “Take Me Back” all have the same theme running through them. Also many of his songs mention “childlike visions” which, despite his proclamation that his songs are not autobiographical, describe exactly how I remember those days.
I know I am sometimes guilty of remembering the past with rose-tinted glasses. I know on this occasion I am not.