Don’t be a prisoner to memories…

Image by Florian Imgrund: thisiscolossal.com

One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.
~Emily Dickinson, “Time and Eternity”

Memory is notoriously unreliable. Ask any detective or psychologist. Ten people could witness an event and each will have a differing version.  And that version will change over time.

Nothing stays the same. Few things end up looking like the images you store carefully away in your head like old photographs.

Have you ever been back to a place from your childhood and been surprised to find how small it is compared to what you had remembered? Memory gives a brilliance, a drama, a lustre that is added each time we access that moment in our lives. Over time we often embroider extra sparkles, or shade it a little darker.

Don’t get me wrong.  Memory is a wonderful thing. Recalling happy times, remembering and celebrating our relationships and achievements – all of that can have a positive affect on our lives if we’re only dipping into that stream occasionally.

But we can end up living far too much in our heads; wondering what might have been, or thinking about what we could have done differently, what we had, or what we lost. We can become a prisoner to our thoughts. Filled with regrets, or guilts, or suffering. We can harm or limit ourselves with our thinking, because we get stuck in our memories and lose touch with reality.

Fraulein, Roilly le Bas, 2002 by Ellen Von Unwerth

Life is lived in the Now. If we are caught up in regret about a past lover, we miss the soul mate right in front of us. We sit inside, lonely and cold on the couch, instead of running about outside in the sun. One small failure can stop us from ever again attempting the thing where we might shine. We may waste precious time mourning a relationship or situation that would never have delivered us happiness. One great moment can rob you of all of the future joy from the things you’ll never try, because of their perceived inability to match up to that one great thing.

And all the while we are in our head, life goes on, without us.

Let go of the past. Put your memories away. Life is waiting for you, right here at your doorstep. And if you run into ghosts from the past, you’ll most likely find they look nothing like you remembered them anyway.

Life is for living. Life is for experiencing and engaging. There will be time enough to live in your memories, but today go make some new ones.  Embrace life.  It’s a precious gift, and we never know just how long we’ve got, so make the most of it!

Image from bornagainsoutherner.blogspot.com

23 thoughts on “Don’t be a prisoner to memories…

  1. As usual, love the images, photos. I am WITH YOU on the past … let it fade. It may pop up at times, but it can’t hurt us anymore. We can move on with our lives in a personally responsible and loving way. That could JUST work xo love mel

  2. I think if you can remind yourself that memory becomes very distorted, perhaps that helps you to cope with troublesome memories from the past, because what you’re remembering is not actually an honest representation of what happened. Knowing that you can’t change it anyway, I agree that it’s best to put those memories where they belong in the past, and concentrate on making new ones for the future – and best of all, we have the opportunity to make them good ones by enjoying life as we live it now. We all have to live with regrets, which is quite reassuring as it’s something that bonds us all as humans, but we can choose not to let those regrets inform our lives in the here and now. Onwards and upwards making happy memories for the future!

  3. Thanks for this post. Memories can indeed stop us living the present; although sometimes it is great to recapture happy times…. or look forward to be able to look fondly back on today.

  4. This is so true. When I was a child growing up in the flatlands of S.E. Louisiana, the levee that ran alongside the Mississippi River looked like a mountain. Now that I live in the mountains I notice the levee is really only about 2 or 3 stories high. Amazing, isn’t it?

  5. Thank you!! That’s all I can say right now…..I really needed this! God has strange ways of communicating with us. I have been “living” in memories for the past few days. Thank you again!! 🙂

  6. Great post! Thank you Nicole. Sometimes the Now is much more painful than the memories, and we need to look at the past to gain some strength from it. Sometimes I need the past to gain some hope. Much love <3

    • I think that memories can be a great source of strength – and they can give us the courage to keep going when life is hard. But it’s never good to live your life in your head. If life isn’t working now, think to the future and begin to imagine a better one for yourself, using the happy memories from your past to build a strong foundation for what will come. Much love to you xx

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