It doesn’t thrill me to spend time in the company of aged friends who live almost entirely in the past. “When I was a kid,” is the opening statement to nearly every conversation.
I wonder, “What’s wrong with now that requires you to live back then all the time?” Of course, I don’t say this out loud (how rude), but I think it. When we drive down a street or visit a park, I never remind my compadres of what I was doing on that street or in that park umpteen years ago. If I say anything, it’s to say something about its value, quirkiness, or entertainment to me today. While I might find it wildly fascinating to recall back when, no one else finds it nearly as interesting. I’m sure of this.
Living in the past doesn’t interest me.
I do, however, recognize the value of reliving the feel of fond memories sometimes. These memories, which are entirely good and uplifting in nature, represent some of the best parts of my life. I can think of these events and feel the richness of an examined life in retrospect.
My memories, for instance, don’t get stuck on a favorite possession, like the perfect dining table that now would not fit in my tiny apartment and, therefore, had to be given away. On the other hand, I will relive with fondness some experiences like my first concert, a Neil Young performance that exposed me to so much I’d never seen or done before, back in the late 1960’s. Even the fond memories are for me – delicious moments of fun and wonder – private. No one is nearly as interested nor can begin to experience the specialness of most of my memories. I mean, they’re happy for me, but if you weren’t there, you can’t experience the wonderful vibe I enjoyed.
The cornerstone of my memory bank contains a very good one: when, while at Disneyland on an uncharacteristically (for California) cold day, Chuck cupped his granddaughter’s tiny hands in his massive mitts and blew his warm breath on hers to warm them up. There was nothing but pure feeling at the moment. I wasn’t even there, yet today, that image, captured in a photograph close up, is one of the most precious I have of two special people who shared a special bond.
One other simple yet delightful memory is of a boyfriend learning the lyrics of my favorite song, Black Bird by Paul McCartney, and then, with his guitar, sang that song to me over the phone to brighten my day. This moment will always be special regardless of motives or other circumstances. I was touched and honored and feel that way today even though our friendship lasted only a short time. I never once felt “Oh, our love didn’t last, so it wasn’t real.” Tying that failure to the memory would denigrate the experience.
Well, so much for keeping my focus on the now and keeping private memories to myself … ha!
Memories are a treasure
The good ones are worth memorializing so no details are lost. I’ve written about the two I shared here. When I think of these events, all the details are sharp because I recorded all the nuances of each event.
Let me suggest that you write down five or ten favorite memories of your life. If you want, keep them in a bedazzled (literal or virtual) album for your recall.
I don’t have that big dining table nor do I have my relationship with Chuck, who passed away many years ago. What I am left with are a couple of sweet, sweet memories that will last the rest of my life.
Instead of living all aspects of your life in the past, pick a few delightful ones and honor them by recording them or sharing with a close friend or family member. Then carry on majorly with living in the now.
Wise words, Antonia….
Thank you for the reminder and the sharing!
And thank you for continuing to read, Fran!
For no reason at all, your article made me think of (remember?) Miles Davis playing ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ (from his recording ‘Round About Midnight’ released by Columbia Records in 1957. In 1959 my father was re-assigned to a position with the U.S. Army at Orleans, France, and the family relocated with him. In early 1960, now settled into school once again, my chemistry teacher, invited me and another student to a Miles Davis concert at the Olympia Theatre in Paris. And the Davis Quintet opened with ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ — and that memory remains — there and then inextricably linked with here and now.
Am glad this post sparked a lasting memory, Chuck. Many of us from the dorm (the residence for those who lived in Fontainebleau and traveled to Paris during the week) have a lasting memory of our first exposure to the Beatles at the Olympia Theatre with Silvia Vartan and Trini Lopez in January 1964. Memories …. Thanks for your comment.