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What’s in a Memory?

First, let me clear my mind of Barbara Streisand and stop wishing that I had Spock (at 1:05) here to do a mind meld for you so that you could actually visualize what I’m about to explain.

I woke up this morning and had this flood of images laced with understanding about Memory. (Out of my HEAD Barbara…always the sound track!)

I’ll start slowly and see if I can get this down in words correctly. Warning, this will unravel in no particular order.  Please wear protective eye/brain wear.

We need memories.  We need to remember because memory is one of our essential building blocks like protein and caramel.  It’s how we learn what is right and wrong.  It’s how we create mastery of things.

We need to remember what came before so we can build and change on that, for progress.  But as I write this I think of other ways people bastardized the concept of progress.

So we need to remember things like the Holocaust…not to dwell on how hugely horrific it was, but so we can know what the human spirit is capable of, and watch for the warning signs.  Don’t forget people like Elie Wiesel came out of that nightmare.

And this is a healthy way to use memory.

Just like there are healthy ways to eat meat, and to exercise, and all other things in life.  Too much meat and it clogs up your system, creates all kinds of havoc.  Just the right amount (in Chinese Medicine) helps balance your blood.  Too much exercise is perhaps more damaging then too little.  It becomes an addiction, like smoking and the need to be exercising becomes pathological.  Sugar, one bite is nice…but the next bite creates the need for the next bite…and before you know it you ate two donuts instead of just a bite of one.

Yeah, I just did that.

But this has nothing to do with memory.  Except if I used my memory to remember that I am incapable of having just a bite of doughnut, then maybe I would have been able to steer clear and saved myself the trouble of feeling guilty about inhaling two with my coffee yesterday.

Back on track.  There are healthy ways to use memory.  Like taking a breath, a moment, an hour to think about those who are gone.  To send them a thought, a light, a wish.  To remember the beautiful memories shared. To even perhaps recommit to a promise we made that we may have forgotten for a little while.

But I think far too often, we…and I really include myself in this camp…get ATTACHED to memories.  We live in them.  We recreate them.  We think we are those memories…when in fact, the only part of us that is the same is the MEMORY.

What do I mean?

I’ll give you an example.  Perhaps you have fallen prey to this at some point, and if not…then just play along.  I have had many relationships.  Starting with my core family, then friends and lovers over of the years.

I’m in a beautiful relationship with a sensitive, lovely man right now.  And in an instant he can say something that reminds me of something another man in my life said…my father…another lover…it doesn’t matter…and boom…I’m back in that moment with the other person.

Part of me is here, with my current partner….but not all of me…I’m in the energy of the past, in the memory. I’m pulling that through the wormhole and bringing it front and center.  And instead of letting life play out in real time I immediately conclude it’s going another way.  And I shift, out of my heart center, out of the present backward in time.

Not really that effective.

Do you know what I mean?

I brought the outcome of the past into my present reality.

Am I bending your mind, man?

Now, we can use our memory to discern whether the partner we are with has similar characteristics we don’t want to align ourselves with anymore.  For instance, you dated a violent person and want to not do that again.  You dated a drinker or a drug addict and you don’t want to do that again.  You dated someone who can’t communicate and you don’t want to do that again.  You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t make you laugh…you get the point.

But in a second–I changed my world with a memory of something that had no business being there.

(I’m really sorry but I saw the new Star Trek this weekend so you get all my sci-fi analogies today.)  (Oh, and GO SEE THAT MOVIE!)

You know whenever a movie does a “going back in time” section and they are adamant about not changing anything that might change history?


Does this make sense?  Do you see where I’m going with this?  It’s all colors and energy to me, and I’m trying to make this make sense in words…because as we discussed we can’t mind meld at this moment…

The point I’m trying to get across today is that memory can be used for good or evil.  Jesus, will you listen to me?  Memory can serve a point.  It can remind us of where we have been.  It can be used as building blocks for learning.  And it can be used to remember and pull forth feelings of beauty and connection and love and respect and honor and grace.

And by default, it can pull back parts that are better left in the past.  It can pull back our fears and our disappointment and our feelings of failure and how we were treated and what was said to us.  And it can be brought forward to defend us….and most often….it’s not warranted.

I’m not sure I’m making this any clearer.  I just thought on this Memorial Day, when as a collective country we are looking back and remembering those we have lost….that tapping into a deeper understanding of our memories would serve us.

Perhaps we can put up some sort of memory boundary and allow the love particles through, but let our relationships in the present play out like they will.  With newness.  We are different.  The folks here in the present that we are attaching to our old memories are different.

I cannot stop singing that song in my head!

Did I do it?  Did I confuse you so terribly you are just shaking your head at me?  Or do you understand the tracks I’m trying to lay?

Memory, like all things has a place.

And today, with the collective consciousness of all those around us, lets remember the beautiful things we lost.  Let’s remember the joy.  Let’s remember to pull forward those things that augment our present.  That make our heart bigger.  That make our smiles wider.  Let’s focus on that.

I’m remembering my old friend Steve, and when I was a kid he taught me calligraphy.  And he had an old movie projector and would show my sister and I old black and white Disney movies of Steamboat Willy.

I remember the way my grandmothers hands would rub my arm and they were super calloused so there was this pleasure pain thing….but she always ended up making me laugh.

These are the memories that pump up my heart and make it beat just a little faster.  And then there are those I wish to leave behind as something that has made me stronger…and that is that.

I can’t seem to figure out a way to end this.  So I’ll leave you with this.
Steamboat Willy at his best!