On the sacredness of memory
Tonight I was spending time with a number of amazing new friends from my church community, and we were sharing things that had happened in our pasts that have impacted our perception and reaction to our current environments.
It sounds like a heavy topic, but in reality we were just a group of women (and one man!) who were getting to know each other better so that we can better live life together in community. It was enriching, rewarding, and most of all, inspiring, to say the least.
So I've been thinking a lot about memory. I was even thinking about it earlier this week after I brought home a bunch of daffodils from Whole Foods, and the scent made me think of my childhood growing up in London, when spring smelled literally of daffodils. There was something in the scent that made me sad - at first, I thought it was because daffodils don't live very long, and that soon that scent would be gone from my bedroom, but later I wondered if it was actually because I miss my childhood. I miss a time when life was easier, when the choices I face in my career or relationships didn't amount to so much. When friendships were as easy as my mom calling your mom to arrange a playdate or my body was just something that could run, bike, or play with no feeling of consequence.
Memories are hard. They shape us, for better or worse, into who we are today. My memories of being laughed at in fourth grade when I came in last at relay races so I faked sick during field day ring through to my feelings about my body now and how others are aware of it. My memories of not making lead in the school musicals in high school make me feel less worthy to sing in my church's worship team today. Similarly, my memories of making As and getting praise from my teacher's in my middle school report cards and my parents' reaction make me proud of what I've accomplished in my career. My memories of finding faith when I was 16 help me realize what my faith still means to me now.
I'm not sure where this post fits in my blog, because it's not really about my body, or about beauty, but just an observance of how deeply our past impacts our future. If I were to relate it back to my body, I would say that I'm going through a reckoning with my body and my past beliefs and attitudes about it, and having to undo a lot of behaviors and ways of thinking. Recently, I've found myself sitting comfortably in a meeting or on the train without being aware of my body or how much space it takes up. The very fact that I can do that means that progress is somehow being made, that I'm somehow defining my worth in a different way than I did for many years. But it's not the whole story. It's just one piece of the puzzle.
But on a broader spectrum, outside of the topic confines that I've defined for this blog, memory is something that can, and should, make us more empathetic to those around us. We don't know where anyone else is coming from, and approaching issues with other people as if we do does both parties a huge disservice. I hope this may serve as a reminder to be more gentle to those around us, especially those that frustrate or annoy us, when they may exhibit behaviors we may find offensive or awkward. And I hope it may permit you to give more grace to yourselves for your own reactions, because your past, and your memories, surely have had an impact on them.
And perhaps more importantly, I hope you may find the strength to examine your behaviors and where they come from, so that if there are things you've done that you are ashamed of, or wish you had done differently, you can understand the root of them and see how you can take steps to move forward.
Random blog post, but yeah. Thanks for reading, as always.