Today, I was talking to a friend about bad memories from the past, about how traumatic past memories were. My friend shared a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien in relation to her point as well, which really struck me:
I will not walk backwards in life.J.R.R. Tolkien
It made me sit down and ponder for a bit.
What are memories, after all? They are recollections of our past incidents that still live in our brains. They may not always be accurate and sometimes play games with you. In many ways, they resemble an old attic full of VHS tapes of old home videos. The newer tapes work okay, the older ones are jittery, while the oldest tapes may not even play well in your VCR, showing just a bunch of static due to accumulated fungi in the tape. (There, I’ve just revealed to you that I’m a home video nut with a never-ending passion for the VHS technology! :P)
In the metaphor I’ve used above, the VHS tapes may be real, but in our case, our memories are not exactly real. They are but abstractions in our mind’s eye. The past is gone, it really does not exist. All we have is now, the present moment. What we can do is to make the most out of the “now”. Dwelling on the past, especially the bygone memories does not do anyone any good. Sure, reminiscing on the fond memories give you a good feeling. Well, as long as something from the past makes you feel good, there is no harm in dwelling on it.
But what if a memory triggers you; should you wilfully keep dwelling on it? Then again, really, do we have control over what we think?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t.
I know techniques to get out of trauma-related memories that I have picked up from some self-help books and through experiments, With that said, you may not always have control over the stimuli which might trigger a trauma memory from the depth of your mind. Sometimes these memories cause an actual physical reaction in our bodies. Unless you’ve mastered the art of controlling your mind, I don’t think you can escape such experiences.
Setting all that aside, I don’t have a ton of memories from my childhood. My parents and I used to live in a beautiful single-storeyed rented house until I was three years old or so – I have vague memories of that home and my childhood. I keep seeing flashes, the rooms of the house, vague memories of my parents, some incidents from childhood… Those are the oldest memories that I still keep with me. There was one particular instance where, on my own, I walked out of my home onto the streets, all on my own! I remember a couple of scenes from that adventure – I must have been less than two years of age when this happened. I remember the terrace of this house where I used to live, it still comes back to me in some of my dreams. Guess what, I may have pictured an entirely unrelated scene taking place on that terrace, in one of my more recent dreams!
Now, that’s the thing about memories, they are imperfect, because of the fact that they are not real. They are improperly-documented and incorrectly presented snapshots from your past. Your life experiences and your thoughts keep altering or even deleting them.
These days, most of the memories I try to relive are the good ones, and a majority of them are from the past six years. There are so moments from the past few years that I would love to re-live day-in, and day-out. Thankfully, many of these moments are more accurate, as they are cemented by photographs, videos, and sometimes journal entries too. I have had the privilege of living a good life in the past six-seven years, and I have a ton of fond memories that I would love to keep and relive in my mind’s eye.
And I can only hope that the rest of my life will give me memories to cherish for a lifetime!
This post was written as part of the Bloganuary challenge of WordPress.com. Bloganuary is a month-long challenge, where bloggers are challenged to write a new blog post every day, based on a daily writing prompt. You will need a WordPress.com account to get the prompts, but you can blog on any platform of your choice – OR even journal privately. Oh btw, there is no bloganuary police – so you can pick your own prompts if you wish to!