“Two old friends met by chance on the street. After chatting for some time, one said to the other, “I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name. You’ll need to tell me.” The other stared at him thoughtfully for a long time, then replied, “How soon do you need to know?”
It’s Gratituesday! Today’s gratitude is brought to you courtesy of the word “Memories.”
Memory morphs. It changes. It softens and fades. Certain aspects take on larger dimensions while other seemingly significant details diminish.
I love how I can close my eyes and be in a moment that occurred weeks or months or years ago. I also love how I don’t even have to close my eyes for a memory to play itself out in my head, tiny detail by tiny detail.
Sometimes I don’t love it so much. Not all memories carry pleasant and soothing gift wrapped packages. Nope, some carry regret, sorrow, heartache, stupidity, shame. The potential hazards of a ride down memory lane can trip a person up and send them reeling.
Who I Am
Either way, happy or sad, delightful or melancholy, ridiculous or sublime, memory feels like part of who I am. Memory makes up the marrow in my bones. It keeps my heart beating. It gives meaning to every single thing I do, every choice I make.
I can’t imagine losing memories, like a person with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Huntington’s, or any number of other disorders or diseases. I’d be no one anymore. I’d not be me at least, without my memories. So much of my joy in life comes from my ability at will to conjure visions of holding my babies, or remembered dances in the moonlight, or crazy things I’ve done like belting out an early morning wakeup song in the middle of nowhere.
As life can often weigh me down with gradually sneaking age and circumstance, having a memory to recall an adventurous few years of climbing cliffs as the world falls away below me reminds me I am not just this aching back, this tired woman, this struggling human. Recalling my years as a young mother when I feel all a bit lost among those with vibrant families remind me I’m more than I appear to others. Chance encounters with my past in fleeting thoughts often brighten a day heavy with worry. Memories remind me that I consist of all that I’ve done and experienced. I’m so much more than what I see in the mirror.
The ratio of good to bad memories isn’t balanced. I’m not sure where the ratio falls. My answer depends on what day you ask me. Today the scale tips heaviest on the abrasive side of things, the hard roads, the thorns, the losses, the mistakes. But give me a few days with a few night’s full sleep and I may say just the opposite. I try not to whitewash things, but I also don’t want to muck about in negativity and regret. Maybe that’s where fiction first found its birth. Hmmm.
Maybe That’s Why
I suppose that’s part of what drives me to write. I write my memories, both good stuff and bad, along with my changing view of those memories, as a way to re-acquaint myself with me. It would be a shame to let all those years of work and learning and experience just slip away as I inevitably fade away.
Hopefully, writing the memories down in various forms will let me live a little longer, but not just as a legacy or in a personal history.
As I write my memories, I relive them and in that living, love again and laugh again.
The title for today’s post grew out of this quote: “How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.” ~Julian Barnes
I like to think that there’s a spirit within us that will take the memories with us after we pass this realm, and protects our memories when our bodies fail us due to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and the likes. Even behind those diseases, there is still a strong spirit within those people – it just doesn’t seem to connect with their previous, precious lives…