Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Memories Can Either Be Gifts or Burdens

Memories...we all have them, some recent, some distant.  Some memories are amazing...some are horrid.  Some memories make us smile, others make us shiver. Some memories make us blush, others make us blanche.

While memories give us perspective, help us establish relationships and form opinions, all memories are not created equal.

I am not sure it is possible to have a memory which does not reflect our perspective at the time.  We remember only what we see, so every memory is framed by what we were looking at.  What you focus on at five is different than twenty five.

So how do we use our memories in a positive way?  How do we choose to smile instead of cry when we look back into our lives? Is there a way to learn from our experiences without being pulled back to the emotions we felt at the time?

I propose there is a lesson in almost every memory.  For instance, I remember taking a sticker from my best friend's desk when I was young.  It was a joke to see how long it would take her to notice.  Unfortunately, she never did and I felt weird putting it back.  Eventually the school year ended and I still had the sticker.  I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I rode my bicycle to her house to return it.  Unbelievably, her family had moved.

I felt evil, downright evil.  When I think about it today I still wince.  What a dumb thing to do.  The lessons I took from it ware many.  The first lesson, don't steal, it is not worth it. The second lesson was, fess up fast when you screw up. The third lesson was don't be stupid with your friends.

While I am sure there are many lessons I could have learned, those are the ones which stuck with me the longest.  I try and be a little smarter, a lot more honest and lightning fast to confess when I screw up.

As I mentioned, this memory makes me wince.  I have the choice to see it as proof I am a screw up, or to take the lessons learned and be a better person.  Today I choose to be a better person.  Maybe tomorrow I will be stupid again, and I will have another awkward memory.  Hopefully I learn from that one too.

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