When the World Asks Us to Remember

by perpetualflaneur

When the world, in its earthly fervor, asks you to remember, it does not take no for an answer. In an instant, memories of objects, faces, places, and situations are summoned out of the tunnels of your brain and are queued for a constant replay, remembering certain details and evoking emotions then and now. Truly, remembering is one of the perks of living but not without strings attached. 

It is wonderful sometimes when one is sitting down, enjoying a beautiful day and absorbing energies of this world, that some memories are easily recalled just by the slightest encounter with anything that we associate them with. It could just be the scent of a candle, a word or two uttered that we overhear, a color that we see, the texture of cloth that we wear, the shape of a bowl, a stranger’s laughter, or simply a namesake that could trigger a mental display of an array of memories we have since we decided to start a collection of them.

Once the act of remembering happens, our minds together with our bodies adjust accordingly in preparation for the constant replay buttons in our heads, featuring endless reruns of scenes and situations that we were once involved in. And with this, we experience a spectrum of emotions, evoking even the extremes. Of course, what we are not ready for is the rise of new emotions and interpretations, whose absence then adds to their novelty each time.

If we consider those memories to be positive, then we have nostalgia, a longing for something beautiful in the past and the desire to live in  and with it once again. The hardship there lies in that desire, that yearning for something–somewhere, someone, some time–that may either be no longer the same or no longer possible. Because at one point, we must accept that how and what we remember, though the event or situation is factual, are also subject to our own perceptions. Perhaps, how we remember them is only true during that specific moment and place. Nevertheless, the mere thought of these memories creates a happy atmosphere around us, simultaneously adding to our priceless moments of smiling or laughing alone.

If, on the other hand, those memories are negative in both content and effect, then recalling them poses great difficulty. In some cases, the mind yields to our wishes and fabricates something that we would rather have happened. Thoughts like “It could’ve happened this way” or “They could’ve done it differently” or “It shouldn’t have happened to me” are pertinent to our needs, our emotions. But sometimes, when the soul chooses to forget, the mind does not cooperate. When that transpires, we are then left with the curse of remembering what we’d rather forget, a lifetime malady filled with nightmares.

Regardless, life without remembering or memories is a life bereft of its right to have its own direction. Without them, we are simply empty containers, waiting to be filled with stories and experiences. In my understanding, having memories, whether good or bad, adds a different value to one’s short life. Quantitatively, we live more, thus, experience more  as we age. Though sometimes, the mind’s retaining capacity falters and eventually fails; qualitatively, it contributes to the richness of our personalities and perceptions, our individual and collective stories.

So, in an instant when the world asks us to remember, let it take its own course but always with caution. Yield to the whims of the past, but do not forget to live in the present! Remember the faces, places, situations, the words and emotions. Honor those who must be honored, and forget those who ought to be forgotten. Because without really remembering (or forgetting), everything is stored in our heads, neither remembered nor forgotten, just sitting there waiting to be summoned for occasional replays.