I remember exactly how I felt when my first business went under.
It was over seven years ago, but the disbelief followed by sadness and angst and more than a little anger at myself and my own ineptitude is still a very clear memory. It’s sharp like the tangy taste of metal or the lingering scent of a pungent spice. To have such failure follow such success was almost more than I could bear at the time, and to this day I cringe a little any time I think about it.
I remember what it was like the first time I fell in love.
All the negative aspects of the world disappeared, and although life was not ideal, that one facet was impossibly so. I experienced a flavor of happiness I had never tasted before, and ever since the aftertaste has been recalled by the love I’ve felt for others. Though like a plunge into a cold pool, the second and third jumps are never quite as shocking as the first.
I’m fortunate to have an uncountable number of memories, some good, some bad, most somewhere in between the two extremes, and to have the ability to relive those moments when I need them, whether I feel that need consciously or they pop into my present unannounced, bringing with them the dust of a different version of myself and a world that no longer exists.
I value these memories, these moments in time, captured in brain-amber, more than anything else in the world. Because as soon as the present has occurred, it’s filed away for a future version of myself to flick through and peak at. To organize and filter and learn from, if I’m really on the ball.
Your memories are a series of ‘nows,’ the secret to perpetual existentialism. It’s a library you build over the span of your lifetime, and the books you shelve are made up of textures, tastes, upswings and depressions, tightly clutched secrets, and quiet moments with yourself, your pets, your lovers, or your best friends.
Holidays and other milestones make for excellent organizational systems. Take the time to step back and really inhale every moment. Sponge up who you are now and the life you’re living. It could all change in a second or it could slowly evolve over a span of decades.
Either way, you’ll want to remember the good and bad of here and now, so that someday you can fully appreciate the ups and downs of there and then.
Update: February 25, 2017
It’s not easy cataloging all that happens to you for easy recall, later. I find that attaching moments to larger contexts helps: I met this person while I was living in this city, I wrote that book while I was dating this person, and so on. But it’s still imperfect.
I’d love to live forever, but I’d love even more to live forever and to be able to remember it all, and recall all the moments of my life with crystal clarity.