How many conversations start with that question? Probably more than we remember. Yet it’s an immediate pull back into the past, back to an event or shared memory that somehow binds people together, often whether they like it or not.
The biggest events in history have turned strangers into friends.
V-Day. The assassination of JFK. Martin Luther King. 911. If you lived through any of those world-changers, you can probably remember the exact moment you heard the news, where you were, what you were doing, who you were with.
It is both a blessing and a curse. Because some memories are hard. Some memories still bring shame, fear, self-loathing – those are often the ones that remain visceral and vibrant, as though they just occurred, while so many others, all those good times, the laughter, the friendships, well, we have to work a little harder to see those clearly, don’t we?
We keep track of days gone by in photo albums, on videos or in journals, where we write down everything we want to remember because it impacted us in some way.
Memories can be powerful, full of mystery and wonder, and I’m sure there’s some expert out there who could tell me all the science behind it – but I don’t care.
I choose to believe that God gave us memory so we can tell our stories.
We are all story-tellers. Think about the multitude of word pictures passed down through the generations and your brain will start to spin. It makes me giddy actually. I love the fact that we can tap into those memories and bring them to life through the written word. Some of us like me, do this on a daily basis. We tell stories and other people turn them into books. Some authors write their own story through memoir, while others choose fiction. But in every work of fiction I believe you will find some of the author in her characters – whether consciously or unconsciously, she will have tapped into a bit of her life and placed it into that novel.
Everybody has a story. Only the very brave will choose to tell their own.
My earliest memory is a time when I was taken to a new nursery school or daycare. I must have been about two or three. I was upset about being there and I couldn’t stop crying. They put me in a high chair and called me a baby. And I remember my father storming through the doors, picking me up and carrying me out of there. And I never went back.
That memory stays with me today – truth be told, I’m probably a little partial to the knight in shining armor stories because of it. I know not every girl wants to be rescued. This girl, she’s good with it. 🙂
As I explored the power of memory in my upcoming novel, The Things We Knew, I became fascinated by the idea of being shaped by the past. Everything we’ve lived through, all those good times and bad times and times so terrible we don’t let ourselves remember them . . . this is who we are. If we were able to tap into each and every memory we own, how many piles of papers would that be? And which would we choose to keep?
Want to talk memory today? What’s your earliest memory?
There’s a spot on the couch for you.