“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
We all have memories, some of us more than others. Memories are a tricky thing. They often aren’t stable or reliable, changing with perception over time. There are songs and smells that bring you back to a moment in time more than anything else; so much conjured up with a few musical notes or the musty whiff of a room. A song you didn’t even pay attention to at the time, a place you didn’t even know had a particular aroma.
Have you ever come across an old storage box and spent hours going through your old possessions; Letters, birthday cards, photographs and charms? Reminiscing can be one of life’s true and unpredictable delights. With it can come realization. How far you’ve come, how much you’ve changed, or haven’t. The overwhelming oneness of you and your past, the present and your hopes for the future. Remembering yourself in the past is how you know who you are today.
Some of us choose not to remember, perhaps because as Barbra Streisand succinctly said, “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.” While others, myself included, cling to every cherished memory we possibly can. Everybody needs their memories. They keep the wolf of insigniﬁcance at the door.
T.S. Elliot writes in his play, The Cocktail Party, “We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then.” We change every day. Which is why it’s even more important that we make an effort to document ourselves. Keeping memories preserved for our family and in times when the glue starts to deteriorate, for ourselves.
We must live in the present, they say. The present is ﬂeeting, temporary and brief. Living in the present can be fun, cleansing and liberating, but ultimately ephemeral, my new favorite word. If we don’t spend time reminiscing and recording it, then we risk leaving a traceless presence. We think we will always be able to remember; and then comes the unsettling time when we struggle to recall details, dates, a face, or a feeling. We can take our memory for granted, yet without it, the present would be self-destructive, transitory, and effectively pointless. We would live purely on instinct and be denied the beneﬁt of experience.
The worst part of holding onto memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.