My earliest memory involved a parking garage and a pink rain jacket. I was somewhere between two and four years old, stomping and jumping in a puddle. The dirty water splattered all over my jacket and matching pink boots and pink hat. I shrieked with excited laughter.
I thought this was a dream until I discovered a photograph of me in that parking garage.
Memories are squishy.
Sometimes the hard details aren’t chiseled into our mind’s eye, but the images and the feelings still linger.
The present is short. I’ve gained wisdom by utilizing my memories. After all, we have the fulfilling yet fleeting present, a mass of ungrounded future fantasies or worries, and we have our memories.
Memories are useless.
If we don’t recall them they have no use. I’ll share what I understand about memories, and ways to utilize them.
Memories are effective teachers.
If we use them, we do not have to suffer the same way we did the first time around. I am an avid journaler, and reading through my journals again has helped me so much. Experiences condense to a handful of lessons-learned. When I arm myself with memories of those lessons, the next experience is not as trying. I can’t reject advice if it’s coming from me.
Memories are fast.
They come and go. I have to invite memories with photographs, videos, journals, conversation, or meditation. When invited, they seem to linger.
Meditation can be done while journaling, practicing yoga, praying, walking, or even taking a bath. Peace of mind is the main ingredient.
Memories are shy.
Either shy or they’re proud. Whenever I am going through something similar to a past experience, it’s hard for me to remember how to get through it again. My memory might be worried to come out again, or maybe it’s waiting for me to come calling, digging through an old journal to remember it.
I have a lot of journals, which makes it hard to find exact experiences. The last few years, I have used colored sticky tabs to categorize the lessons I have learned. My categories include: general thoughts, spiritual impressions, family thoughts/decisions, and future plans, and more. When I journal about an event, I underline a few key words on the page so it’s easier to find the memory I’m scanning for.
Memories bring metamorphosis.
When I’m reading through a journal or notebook of mine, I start to feel like I did on that day. This can be helpful or sad. But the emotions that come back empower me. They remind me that I have done it well before and I can definitely do it again.
I especially loved myself when I was serving a proselyting mission for my church. Then, I was not afraid of anything or anyone, because I loved people. I talked to anyone because I saw them as a child of God on a journey not that different from mine.
As I read my journals and notebooks from this period of my life, I feel more confident and fearless. I am bolstered by the spiritual insights I already learned, and am just revisiting.
Memories are positive.
I can only say this from my experience (I only know my memories’ effects.) When I recall a happy experience, I can carve out the details and feel the emotions. I cannot recall as many sad experiences—they are mostly squishy and vague.
Memories need to be believed.
Just because a memory is squishy, distant, or vague does not mean it’s invalid. I didn’t believe in my pink raincoat memory because of those reasons. But my life would have been fine without that particular memory. The ones that need to be believed involve family and spirit. Believe your memories when you fell in love. Believe that you did feel that God was real and aware of you. Believe your feeling of friendship. Believe the memory of the great relationship with your child.
Believe the difficult and sad memories too. Pain and sorrow are real, and those memories can be powerful in healing.
Memories bind people together.
Sharing experiences connect people together. Making positive memories with others makes friendships. Sometimes, people experience negativity that is outside their control. Those memories also have the power to bind and unify people.
Family is the main character in my favorite memories. We make new memories when we revisit older ones we share. Watching family home videos brings laughs and love.
I met Kristine four years ago when she moved into my basement as a missionary. She and her sweet companion Leah became my surrogate daughters when my own daughter left for her mission. I feel blessed as I’ve revisited my memories of Kristine’s time in our home. We built a special bond of friendship, memories to last a lifetime.
Last year when I started Choosing Wisdom I asked Kristine if she might one day write for me. She is just getting ready to start her last year at BYU and found a little time to write for us today about memories. I hope you enjoyed.
What are some of your favorite memories?