Saturday, December 04, 2010

"the gift of memory is an awful curse..."

"...with age it just gets much worse." -Death Cab for Cutie

I have a love/hate relationship with memory. It rivals the one I have for poetry. There are times when memories can make a moment a million times better, and there are other times when they can make life considerably worse. I could be engaged in the most mundane task, such as driving in my car or sitting in a boring lecture and out of nowhere, a random memory will enter my head. It could be a good one or a bad one; I don’t usually get to decide for some reason. If it’s a good one, a smile will burst across my face and my whole body will feel lighter. The world will appear conquerable. If it’s a bad one, my heart will sink and everything will go dark. The universe will be filled with despair. Certainly, the good memories help to prop me up when I don’t seem to have anything else that will do the trick. I can think about where I was a year ago, five years ago, or even ten or fifteen, and I can see how far I’ve come while simultaneously longing for a more innocent age and time. The good times help put life in perspective, like things aren’t so bad after all. My life hasn’t been so terrible. A plethora of great memories help confirm that. But then there are the bad memories, the ones that are filled with regret and sorrow. The woulda-coulda-shouldas and the if-onlys, like if only I could have known then what I know now I would have done things completely differently. But obviously there’s nothing I can do about anything that happened in the past be it good or bad, so why does the past have to stay with me? Haunting me. Lifting me up and then stomping me back down. I don’t want to have to get rid of the good memories, but I sure wouldn’t mind forgetting the bad stuff. However, I realize that if I got rid of all memory, I wouldn’t get to have those random and spontaneous moments of elation however fleeting and unpredictable they may be. Also, bad memories often come with a lesson learned, and so they serve as a reminder never to do that again or not to be such an idiot next time or whatever the case may be. Every memory has its value and purpose, even if it’s just to distract me from the tediousness of life and help remind me either that things aren’t always as bad as they seem or that they could be demonstrably worse. There’s beauty in forgetting, but remembering can be pretty great, too. I don’t want to lose my memory completely; I just can’t decide whether to love it or hate it sometimes.