Memories are important to us and are great as long as we don’t get stuck in the past and forget to enjoy each new day as it comes. The important thing is to remember the positive experiences and not dwell on the negative. However, sometimes we do need to be aware of the negative to learn something or to appreciate all the positive experiences.
Life is about getting a balance and that includes a balance of the good and bad. I read somewhere that it takes five positive comments to wipe out the bad effect of one negative comment. I don’t know if that is true for everyone. Perhaps some people are able to brush off the negative more easily. Some may be able to recognise that another person may have a negative outlook in general, be insecure or be going through a bad patch. These factors could influence them to make a negative comment or act in way we consider negative. Sometimes another person’s criticism is simply a reflection of their point of view and how they choose to live their life. It isn’t necessarily valid for someone else.
Likewise, perhaps it takes five positive experiences to negate the effect of one negative experience. Alternatively, perhaps it depends on the person involved and also how that person is feeling at the time. Some days a negative event has a bigger impact on me because I am feeling insecure or unhappy. When I am in a confident frame of mind that same event will have less impact and I may even forget it altogether. Memories will be a mixture of good and bad because the past wasn’t all positive or all negative.
People have different ideas about memories. A quote that got me thinking is,‘We’re the sum total of our memories, Tess. Memories are the most precious things we have. Good or bad. That’s what make us who we are.’ (From Don’t You Forget About Me by Alexandra Potter.) I wonder if memories do make us who we are, or if we choose to a large extent, which things to remember. If this is the case, does who we are determine our memories?
Another quote I read is, ‘How we remember, what we remember, and why we remember form the most personal map of our individuality.’ I think this is true. If two people are involved in the same event they will remember it differently. Some time later one person may not remember the event at all The other may remember it in detail. If both people remember it they will have different memories or at least a different emphasis. Their overall impression of the event could be different. One may remember a party as boring and the other says it was fun. They would remember it differently because of their different personalities.
Our personal memories are important to us. Other people’s memories can be very interesting as well. The memories of the previous generation can add a richness to our lives. I am grateful my Mum wrote diaries and then kept a few of these to pass on to me. Reading what she wrote about the early years of my own life has added to my memories and also shows me a different perspective. The letters and cards my Mum kept are also very interesting. Even though I believe in de-cluttering I will hold onto these written records of times gone past.
Photos are valuable as a record and help us remember the past in a way that words can’t. This is changing to some extent. In this day and age of digital photography where photos can be altered and things added, photos don't always portray things as they really were. I have culled some of the hundreds of photos I have but I will hold onto many of them, not only for my own enjoyment but for the interest of future generations.
All sorts of memories are significant to me but it is the people I have had a close connection with in the past who are the most important. The people have had more influence on me than the places I have seen or where I have lived. I agree wholeheartedly with the following quote, ‘As long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.’