God has been very good to me, for I never dwell upon anything wrong which a person has done, so as to remember it afterwards. If I do remember it, I always see some other virtue in that person.
Saint Teresa of Avila…
As promised, I pulled a question out of a jar. The question for today is number 84: What do you want to remember forever? Why?
My first thought was that I want to remember my bank account PIN forever because it really sucks when you forget it. I have experienced that. I don’t like going to the dentist, in fact, I really really hate it and no dentist gets near me unless I am all relaxed with nitrous oxide—laughing gas. I had heard that nitrous oxide killed brain cells but I didn’t, and still don’t, care. Apparently, we have about 100 billion brain cells. So if the laughing gas causes a major massacre of about 300,000 brain cells, it would still be worth it to me. If I’m going to the dentist, I’m getting laughing gas.
One time I enjoyed the calming and anesthetic properties of laughing gas for about an hour at the dentist. At the end of that hour, whatever brain cell had been killed was the one containing my bank PIN because that knowledge was GONE. And it didn’t come back. Eventually I had to go to the bank and change it because that number was irretrievable. So I always want to remember my PIN. And my various passwords for that matter.
But that’s kind of piddly. Answering that question with ‘my PIN number’ won’t change my life, so I dug a little deeper.
My next thought was a very heart-stirring memory. Last Christmas I went to Ottawa to visit my son and his family, including my 2 year old grandson, Jack. In Ottawa, you take an escalator down to the baggage area and it’s open to the public. As soon as I got on the escalator and started my descent, I saw a man with a little boy at the bottom close to the escalators. Suddenly the little boy broke loose and ran over to the bottom of the escalator and started jumping up and down and yelling, ‘Hi Nanny! Hi Nanny! Hi Nanny!” It still brings tears to my eyes to remember that. I hope I remember it forever.
That memory then got me thinking about other things I want to always remember. I realized that often the good memories of people and situations are fogged in by other memories that are bleaker.
Let’s face it, even our closest relationships are sometimes marred by anger, cruel words and actions, and just plain thoughtlessness. Sometimes when we think of certain people we tend more to remember the pettiness and meanness rather than just the kindnesses and humor and caring.
As people get older, for example, they sometimes start to get more crochety and negative and difficult and we can start to forget how fun and caring they once were. So, after thinking about that for a few minutes, I put a bit more effort into remembering only good stuff about people that are close to me or have been.
I remember my dad taking us to the park on summer afternoons. He would play with us on the monkey bars and all the change would fall out of his pockets and we would run around and pick it up like it was a prize. I remember when I was young, a teacher tried to stop me from being left-handed and she started rapping my knuckles with a ruler. My mum, who was also left-handed, marched down to the school and I swear that teacher has never been the same since. I remember going to a fair with my brother and our kids and we all bought a balloon and inhaled the helium and talked in funny voices, laughing hysterically. (Okay, I know you’re starting to think ‘what is it with her and inhaling weird brain-cell killing gases.)
I decided that I want to always remember the good things about the people I know and care about. I can forget the bad, but I want to remember the good things. Instead of what I’m more inclined to do—forget the good and remember the bad.
Of course, to some extent that depends on my mood. I can, on occasion, go through spells of downness. That’s when I like to take a bottle of whine and lay in bed and listen to country music until I get over it. At those times, I not only remember, but I relish and relive every mean thing anyone has ever said to me. Not healthy or fun, even with the wine and musical accompaniment. If I forget the bad and only remember the good, perhaps I’d have less to wallow in and I’d get over those times faster.
I realize that there is a risk to only remembering the good things. After all, we use our memories, good and bad, to learn and adjust to our environment and possible dangers. Without the bad memories, we would be completely unprotected, meeting and interacting with people, good or bad, in the same, open, unguarded way. Could be scary.
On the other hand, if we create our own reality, perhaps expecting only good stuff from other people would result in good stuff coming our way. It could change our relationships. It could change our life.