Mem´ries light the corners of my mind
Misty watercolour mem´ries of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or time has rewritten every line?
If we had a chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? Could we?
(Lines from the song ¨The Way We Were¨)
Things of the past that cross the threshold of the present . . .
Consciousness here and now that gives access to bygone events . . .
Images that force their way into one´s mental landscape . . .
Memories may be exciting and thus desired; they may be tragic and hence exorcised. We don´t get bored and tired rehearsing the former while in case of the latter, we always try to look for an escape route. But is there really such an escape route?
Memories of great and stirring things are at our beck and call in moments when we need to get inspired. They seem to be subservient to our will for we can instantly bring them to mind. In moments of solitude, they are just around the corner of our wakefulness ready to be tapped. They may not be originally fantastic but the mind at the moment of recall has the power to embellish every detail in their sequential order. They are like snapshots we breathe life into and instantly get transformed with the vividness of stunning imagery. Like in the lyrics of the famous song, ¨The Way We Were¨ popularized by Barbra Streisand, these are memories ¨of the smiles we left behind, smiles we gave to one another¨; these are memories of the ¨laughter we will remember.¨
But likewise in the same song is heard that ¨memories may be beautiful and yet, what´s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget¨. There are painful memories. But can we just simply throw them away in the sea of forgetfulness? Are we in control of these sorrowful memories in the same way we hold in our hands the fancy of those exhilarating ones? It seems that these sad memories have a life and power of their own. We just don´t have the strength to be in control of them. They persist and assert themselves in our consciousness and dare the frontiers of our sanity. We don´t easily get rid of them. In fact, they could be likened to perennially fresh wounds that never heal even in a lifetime.
Memories inspire the human soul and stimulate one´s heart´s desire. . .
Memories dishearten the spirit and intensify sorrow and pain. . . .
Memories bring us to a mountain-peak high . . .
Memories lead us on the brink of a dark abyss. . . .
This is the human condition which is always being reckoned in terms of the abstract present but the past doesn´t seem to want to let us move on. The present qua present is flitting and elusive so that what is concretely held in abeyance is the ¨persistence of memory¨ (with apologies to Salvador Dali) and the lure of the future. The present therefore becomes the convergence point of what already happened and the things yet to come. On the one hand, we have unrelenting memories of things gone by while on the other, we are suffused with the will to bring forth the realization of our dreams.
Nevertheless, in a lot of times, memories relentlessly bombard our consciousness and in the silence of our heart we ask, Are they the most fitting essence of how we should look at human existence? Are memories the most unquestionable evidence that sustains the reality of the mind and hence the existence of what transpires in it? More than being riddle-solvers, we are also castle-builders and the power behind these abilities does not simply rise up from each of our unique individuality at this point of time but has long been marching on from the collective memories of our ancestors since time immemorial.
Our reality is much larger than the individual life we have had since the first time we saw the light in this world upon birth. Our reality can never be divorced from the unbroken trail of past events, distant and proximate. We boldly claim our prowess to create the future and such has been concretely demonstrated through generations. But we must humbly and reticently accept the fact that we are fashioned by the memories of our humanity etched on the tablets of our cultural legacy. In this sense, there is a much deeper way of looking at memories than those we have in our individual conscious minds. The reality of the collective unconscious is genetically embedded in our psycho-physiological assemblage which is not only an instance of the psychological persistence of memories but also of their cultural endurance in the biological infrastructure.
In the final analysis, we are creatures of memories both in the personal sense as well as in the cultural.
© Ruel F. Pepa, 10 December 2013