Friday, February 23, 2007
If Memory Serves Me Right.
“It isn't that they can't see the solution. It's that they can't see the problem."
--G. K. Chesterton
This morning I was struck by the beauty of memory. My memory. The power of memory and its uncanny ability to shape us through our perception of its part in our "becoming". Our perception of memory is an important thing to consider as a human, because in its strange, circular way, it shapes us. But then we shape memory. And then it shapes us again...we begin to see how people become insane when surrounded by nothing but their own thoughts.
How often we consider something in our past as important in our life is really only the sum of 1) how we have re-shaped that vision over time based on our other experiences and 2) how we "took" the situation in the first place. And over time our original perception becomes a smaller and smaller part of that equation until, at last, our original perception becomes virtually negligible--save for the commentary of storytelling.
I remember sitting on my front porch when I was young--somewhere between 7 and 10. I remember the mornings of summer when there was no school and the feel of the astroturf covering our front porch warming in the expaninding sunlight. The smell of grass and evergreen bushes freshly groomed mingled with the sounds of bees harassing me, dogs barking, and sparrows nearby finding breakfast in the lawn. I remember the sound of the screen door as it slammed shut because I was in too much of a hurry to be careful with it. Usually reprimanded for it.
I was a busy kid. Always busy doing something outside that inevitably got me into trouble. I guess somethings arent destined to remain in our past, after all...
I remember the way the dew soaked through my shoes and pants as I ran through lawns and mistakenly sat down, thinking it had been dry. But more than anything, the memory of sitting on the steps on my front porch in the sun in those young summers has stuck with me. Waiting for life, seeing small flying insects rising from the lawn in the space where shade meets light and not knowing anything about anything from anything. Its beautiful in retrospect. It brings me to tears. That particular part of my life was not exceptionally happy, for many reasons. I took the decay of my family upon myself, and as such I feel like I missed out on the youth I could have enjoyed. I would like to go back in memory and make that kid enjoy more and smile more and love more. I would like to go back and tell him that the things happening around him arent his fault, and this isnt how life really is. Some day he will have a memory of this moment so perfect it doesn't include the feelings of pain he does not yet understand.
Memory is a powerful tool, but it is also a very sharp sword. If handled improperly it can certainly be a means by which we distort ourselves beyond repair. I remember everything, I think, somewhere in my brain. But for some reason only certain parts leak out and at the strangest times. I feel like I have changed my outlook on things which causes memories to come back to me in a different light depending on where in my life I am. But then again, when I seriously consider myself, its only a skin deep fraction of my outlook that has changed, mostly involving my confidence in myself. But my basic constitution is still Me--it hasnt really changed. I think most of us are really who we are from day one and then forever. I just believe that we put on different faces for a while, and for some its a face for how we interact, for others its a face of being more optimistic, maybe for some its work ethic.
I remember and therefore I am. Without my memory I would have nothing. Therefore it is probably my most valuable asset even though at times it is certainly my worst enemy.