It comes so naturally to most of us; we forget how eerie and strange is our ability to recall. The memories we keep in our mind are ours alone and are like one-of-a-kind items in a smart boutique. Our memories are not to be compared to anyone else's and stay in our mind like stalactites in the darkness of a cave; but flash a light on one of them, and it plays itself like a melody replayed on demand at an encore performance on the stage of our life.
There is something magical and so taken for granted in the huge store of events suspended in our lifetime. Often my sister tells me "Don't you remember?" And I remember, but not exactly the same way she does. Sometimes an event that we both lived together is remembered differently. Life and our personality has filtered what we stored. Our memories are not only unique, they are made of all the things we have paid attention to or that caught our interest. The rest is remembered, maybe, or left to the passing of time and is easily forgotten like doves flying away from us. We recall what we loved and most often remember what we abhorred.
Remembering needs often a trigger. Something like a song, a smell, a face of our past, a sight, a sensation deeply felt. It soars then in our mind like a kite in the wind, lightly sometimes or with the power to overwhelm us.
I remember living in Lima, Peru and walking with my kids on the beach. Lots of little pebbles made all sorts of clicking sounds as we walked. The waves crashed on the beach. We came upon a little trickle of water running off from the hill above and small fish swam in the enticing little pool at its bottom. It was so unexpected. We found a cup and brought some of the fish home for our aquarium and settled them in. I remember coming to the kitchen where we kept them the next day and seeing nothing in the aquarium but the newcomer fish who had eaten the domesticated ones.
Then there are rite of passage memories, like kissing our first boyfriend, bathing in the ocean or having our first babies, smelling their scent and sniffing their skin or kissing our parents and the feeling of their no longer young skin, so soft it seems like butter. Or getting married or divorced; those moments that come in full force and that haunt us for life.
Our ability to recall is sometimes fading, or disappear as we age. Like Alzheimer's patients who look at their family and do not remember them. The absolute horror of it. It seems like a whole range of our life is lost when our memory goes. Forgetting our loved ones is saying goodbye to so many days of our life when we were happy and laughed or were angry or hurt, inspired or lazy but fully conscious. Our life goes in a dark hole of the mind and we are subject to live strictly in the present minute.
Our memories trace for us a path that we embrace as we grow and learn, become more of our true nature and face new moments to enrich ourselves. We recall, to relive our trajectory, correct its course, to know who we are, who we have been, or who we want to become. To sort through people we have met and save time for our best friends or the ones that make our soul soar.
It is not enough to remember; it is just as important to trace our future and cry over what is gone and smile at the days as they collect and create more moments to savor and bring up someday to our mind as a dream well lived.
2010 Copyright Micheline Brierre
Editing by Barry Kaplan