The Memory Series: On Overlending Memory Credibility

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

Part 1 of a series that I anticipate will grow in both urgency and reluctance.

I texted a friend earlier today, “Happy Birthday! Miss you tons!” Upon using the phrase “miss you” I’m invoking a sense of loss, a sense of want. I think back to the memories that this particular friend was involved in and remember such memories fondly. But do I “miss” those times? Do I, in the nature of memories and the conventional definition and behavior that surrounds this term, desire to return to this time? In other words, do I wish to supplant my current existence with the version of myself that exists in this memory, this point in time?

In real truth, absolutely not. Yes, I liked that period of time in my life. I thoroughly enjoyed the memory, but does saying “I miss you” and attaching it to the tail-end of a memory become interpreted as a “want” I have, a sense of satisfaction that I have been deprived of and consequently crave? No, not at all.

But it’s strange. I feel guilty if I look back at a memory, namely a fond memory, and do nothing but simply address its former presence. Rather, I feel compelled to qualify this memory, heighten it to states of exceptionality that it does not deserve (whether this is because of people involved in the memory or an innate sense of guilt I seem to carry, I'm uncertain). Thus, so exists the memory, but with an insincere desire attached to it--the desire to reclaim the point of time that the memory existed in.

I do strongly believe that this occurs because we’re (or at least I was) taught to work against the present. The present is never simply the present--it’s a point of time that we are either working towards or away from; it’s always a point of reference. It does not exist in and of itself. Why is it that I’ve been taught that only long-term thinking/planning/acting is valuable; that most of what is done for the short-term is merely impulsive, rash, noncommittal, or perhaps the most capable of inducing violent and devastating results?

Perhaps this is why I’m most infinitely satisfied to exist in my dreams, than in a reality where those very dreams have been realized.

More than once, I’ve been fortunate enough to attain the very things I had spent months, or years yearning for. Yet, whenever I achieve said things, I am utterly ruined by them. The luster and shine is drained to a monotony. I am left shattered because what had fueled me, a consuming fire, the thing closest to a heartbeat, was whittled to shit, which is to say: nothing. There are different kinds of empty the body suffers from, but this type of empty, the empty you feel when the life is teased out of your lungs, leaves you a waking, emotionally radicalized corpse. You taste everything too strongly, and my God, isn’t everything so...bland---the same horse-shit you’ve been talking yourself out of practically your entire life?

And because it is the very instinct of humans to see themselves live (and not only live, but thrive), no matter the cost, I am quick to conduct a clean assassination of this realization, quick to use denial in place of every other kind of emotion. And where exists denial, grows desire. And so desire grows back stronger, fitter, sleeker, sexier. Then, in a unique sense of defeat that masquerades as rebirth, strength: I concoct yet another dreamscape.

Look at me, of course, in this new, shiny vision I have never been happier, more fulfilled: See that, that’s who you want to be, that’s who you deserve to be. Let’s get there. Let’s abandon everything and work to another height. I promise, and I know I said it last time, but this time I mean it, I mean, God--have you seen her, this one? After this I promise, I’ll go. Look, look I’m gone, ok? Just one more time, just this once. You nab this one, and it’s over--you’re free, you’re free, and you’ll---

Here. By living this way, this is what we lose: the ability to have truly lived, in full articulation and consciousness, in the real, waking moment, and not through the lens of memory that often (more than not) deteriorate or embellish what we claim to know, and according to its own will. By becoming a slave to memory, we are empowering it beyond its capability, and frankly, necessity. When we feel that we do not live fully in the present, but rather for later, or to escape from before, we diminish the presence of the only thing we truly have control over (leave it to us to only take for granted what we have).

Inadvertently, this overlends credibility and authority to our memories. These memories convince us that to live, and live well, (an ever-looming fear), we must exist through borrowed frames of time, fractions and pieces that have and will never be binded together in the same moment. Hence: the guilt (or so I think) that infiltrates my thoughts with full confidence; my obligatory "miss you" text, my unfaithful desire to reclaim another point in my life.

I see what I am empowering, and I see that I need to correct it. Fine, then.

So it goes.