Core Decorum: memories

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

The idea of “dwelling on the past” tends to have a bad connotation. We instantly think of a high school wash up or someone who can’t get over their ex. However, revisiting the past does not always have to reach such an extreme. Sometimes it is absolutely essential to sit back and think of everything you’ve been through. More specifically, it is necessary to reflect on good memories and to let go of the bad ones.

For some reason, it seems like we remember the bad times more often than the good ones. We find ourselves focusing on past hardships and, in doing so, think ourselves into a state of despair. It is a lot easier to dwell on the times we’ve been hurt rather than on the times we’ve been fortunate.

Writer Haruki Murakami comments, “memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” It is undeniable that the past has a strong hold on us. It can just as easily put us back together as it can break us apart. The people we are now is a culmination of everything we’ve experienced. In that way, our memories are inescapable. Our past always stays with us, and we are constantly remembering various pieces from different days and times in our life.

Nevertheless, however powerful the past is, we have the capacity to control it. We can consciously let go of painful memories and move toward joyful reminiscences. When we replace the bad memories with good ones, we are reminded of how lucky we’ve been and how extraordinary life can be.

During each day, even the worst ones, there are simple and blissful moments. It could be as small as sitting in a really comfortable chair or writing with your favorite pen. We owe it to ourselves to hold onto and remember those moments and the small spurts of joy they bring with them.

I encourage you this week to sit down with a friend or two and share your favorite memories with each other. Talk about that really great cup of coffee you had during Christmas break, or that time you danced like an idiot in front of strangers. Those small, simple memories are the most important ones, and you will be surprised how much joy comes from the simple act of reflection.

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