One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
~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.
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!