Memory, positive thinking

The steel beam is going up tomorrow in my basement-studio-to-be. I think that means that the temporary walls will come down before I leave, and that’s cool, because I’ve been eagerly awaiting the day when I could see the room coming together. I am very excited.

Today we took the twins to their swimming class. Joanna was very wiggly, almost trying to push off from whomever was holding her. It reminded me of when Hazel used to do that, wanting to swim on her own but of course totally unable to do so yet. Sometimes I wish there was such a thing as an enormous printer that could be hooked up to your brain and then produce the reams and reams of memories, stories, experiences, impressions that you’ve got stored there, but have completely lost conscious touch with. Of course, they would range from terrifying to amazing to mundane to sentimental to embarrassing to incomprehensible, and there would be plenty you wouldn’t actually want to see (or share). But every time a Hazel story emerges through an experience with the twins, I think of all the stories of my kids’ childhoods that will submerge and be lost, because I will forget them, and I feel some sadness and wistfulness.

I don’t have a great memory. When I attended my 20th college reunion a couple years ago, I was astounded by what I had forgotten, including people, names, and an entire year that I lived in an off-campus house with a friend. I regret it, because I have felt so out of touch with my own life, and because it’s harder to practice appreciation when so much is lost.

This is not to say that I can’t enjoy the moment, be present in it and live it to its fullest. I just wish I’d hung on to more of my own narrative, good and bad.

At the same time, it is interesting how we store memories and impressions in other ways than direct mental narratives. While at the reunion, I ran into a guy at an event and had an immediately strong positive feeling and wanted to hug him, even though his face was barely familiar at all and I had no idea who he was. Turns out we’d spent part of one year having really wonderful, meaningful, and sometimes intense conversations, having met in a production of a Gilbert & Sullivan opera. With some prodding of my memory, a few images surfaced. But my heart and body had recognized him even when my mind didn’t. We haven’t kept in touch, but I (may) remember his name when/if I see him at another reunion in the future.

Part of the reason behind my shaky memory, though, is a lack of focus on the positives here and now in my life. Negatives stick more easily: in order to hold onto the positives, I have to notice them with intention, appreciate them, and make a place for them in my mind and heart. I am trying to do that these days by deliberately cultivating gratitude for what is positive each day. Each night we go around and say our highs and lows for the day, and that does help. This blog helps. My Facebook entries help. And ultimately, a stronger focus on the positive will make more room for happiness in my life, and that is a good thing.

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