On The Importance Of "Bad Memories"
There are good memories, and then there are the ones that make you change your life.
I was blessed with a generous lot of the latter. Some took me by surprise, some I brought on to myself; other took their time as they lazily unveiled as catalysts for something I needed to change, while yet others were quick in revealing themselves as such. Regardless of the shape, form or pace they took, each one felt like a shudder, shaking me out of my state of ignorance and nonchalance, and forced me to see faults in my life I didn’t want to see. Each one lent me a new perspective. Each one taught me a lesson that I couldn’t have, wouldn’t have learnt otherwise; a lesson that I would have done everything in my power to circumvent, but one that made me nonetheless wiser.
Each one shattered everything I had ever believed in, taught me to pick up the broken pieces and build my life again, brick by brick.
Perhaps one is born with insatiable desire for living. For novelty in the mundane, revelation in experiences, insight in intellect, and heartbreak in love. Perhaps one is born with an aversion to tepid waters, moss gouging its soul, growing like a stubborn disease, all the while glinting in the guise of a comfortable blanket that forms a protective shield against erosion from stormy weathers.
Or perhaps one learns to desire life, and resist anything that obstructs living.
desire |dɪˈzʌɪə| noun
a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen: he resisted public desires for choice in education.
verb [ with obj. ]
strongly wish for or want (something): he never achieved the status he so desired | (as adj. desired) : the bribe had its desired effect.
• archaic express a wish to. John spake unto him, and desired him in like manner and contestation as before.
ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French desir (noun), desirer (verb), from Latin desiderare (see desiderate) .
The irony, however, is that we fear desire. We are so terrified of wanting to be happy that we fail to even recognise it as a want. When happiness comes knocking on our door, we turn up the volume of the stereo singing songs about broken hearts and lost faith, and drown out the hope that sits promisingly on the other side.
What could we fear so vehemently?
Perhaps that happiness will leave the same way it enters.
The conflict between our instinct to live, and our fate to die turns our inner world into a battlefield. The former may win the battles, but the latter always wins the war.
But does that mean that we should not allow our desire to live, to manifest itself in all its glory? Does that mean that we should just sit back and passively accept life’s tribulations as its innate quality, all the while pining for a more palatable way to live? Does that mean that we should give up the little joys of just being alive, breath by breath?
That we shouldn’t even give a fighting chance to what sits on the other side of the door?
That we should just stop breathing?
And what if breathing meant laughing?
Not a sarcastic laugh that betrays the pain that sits throned in the palace of one’s soul. Not a helpless laugh that is just the flip side of anger that swims in the waves of one’s heart, flaunting its fin like a shark. Not a pained laugh that conceals the hurt that perches itself on a half-broken branch of a lone tree amidst a barren road that no one ever walks down.
But the kind of a laughter that can’t be contained, one that echoes with abandon because it so desperately wants to exist; the kind that is the birth-child of the bliss that accompanies knowing that you are alive.
Breathing. In and out.
In control of the seventeen odd muscles that must work together to bring the said laughter to life.
The master of the lightness that the said laughter brings with it.
Maybe it was the life-shattering events of my life that taught me the value of good memories.
The thing about good memories is that they don’t come to you. You have to find them, chase them, create them.
But to do so, you must first want them.
We are obsessed with aesthetics. We spend hours flipping through beauty magazines, pictures of actors and models, carefully analysing the stroke of their eye-liner and the cut of their suits. We save hundreds of home decor pins on our Pinterest accounts, mull over the right colour for our walls, the right pattern for our sofa upholstery, and meticulously match the last of our linen with the rest of the decor. We want a car, a laptop, even a phone that is not just efficient, but also one that makes us look good.
But why do we limit our aesthetic pursuits only to the material? When it comes to our selves, our minds, our hearts and our souls, we like to believe that we are perfect just the way we are, not realising that without a decorated soul, our decorated bodies and houses will come to naught. Not realising that if the body is left deformed because of an unfortunate accident or debilitating illness, or our house collapses in face of a devastating calamity, we will be but hollow.
What does one fill the hollow with?
How does one make oneself enough?
Is it a high moral ground one creates to dwell in? Is it a set of virtues that keeps us warm during cold nights? Perhaps it guides us through dark alleys, but is it enough to get through the solitude that is the very nature of being human? During those moments when the inevitable aloneness of being alive comes to surface? How does one make it not just bearable, but also enjoyable?
Nurses who work in palliative care have revealed that among the most common regrets that people have in their last days, are not giving enough time to their loved ones, and not following their hearts. It doesn’t matter if it’s a billionaire breathing his last, or a pauper off the streets. All that summarises the human experience in the form of unfinished business is following your heart’s desires, and doing so in harmony with those you love.
How do these translate in real life?
In the form of memories, the ones that make you smile at 3 am when you are nursing that cup of tea, and gazing at a starlit sky. All by yourself.
This is why I have always sought good memories, chased them relentlessly. For every bad memory that life threw my way, I created five good ones. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Three. For every bad memory, I created three good ones.
And that’s made all the difference.
“And yet she is always smiling,” a friend once said of an acquaintance who had been through hardship in life.
“Have you considered that maybe that’s why she is always smiling?” I asked in retort.
It’s true what they say. Those who seem the happiest have experienced the most sadness. But the fact is, they don’t just seem happy. They truly are happy. They have learnt how invaluable it can be to feel joyful, they take the fleeting moments of joy, and hold on to them with unfettered passion. It becomes their mission in life to collect as many moments of happiness as they can.
And these add up to become armour they wear with pride.
That’s what my good memories are - an armour, my pride, the air I breathe, the blessings I create.
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