Living Amongst Past Memories

“…And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of a little piece of madeleine”

I’ve never read Marcel Proust and, to be honest, I have no intention of departing In Search of Lost Time too soon. But I remember this quote that my former literature teacher told us, and for some reason I kept thinking about it. What makes our mind wander in the past? In the case above, the taste of a long forgotten cake, but in reality there’s a mixture of so many possible factors…

Firstly, songs. Music and lyrics. Melodies that I used to listen at some point in the past, such as the one described in another article, but also others. I’ve recently discovered that in my hometown they’ve started playing music in the city centre, and at first I thought it’s a good idea, in a funny way. But soon I changed my mind, cause there’s nothing funny at all in trying to keep you eyes dry when you’re forced to listen to certain songs while you’re walking alone through the crowded city centre…

But when you touch me like this…
And you hold me like that…
It was so long ago but
It’s all coming back to me now

Cause indeed, that’s another way of going back with your memory: re-living the moments. It’s in fact one of the easiest way of remembering the past; whether it’s good or not, decide for yourself. It depends on the type of memories, I guess, and how easy it is for you to let go and don’t get lost amongst past memories. You can simply watch a child playing and remember of your own childhood, or see a couple that looks perfect together, and you’re about to tell them that, when you remember someone else used to tell you the same…

Specific words that had a specific meaning in a past life. Familiar scents and places, and feelings, and loneliness. Quotes, photos, and things that happen to other people, be them real or just characters from books and movies… All these make my mind wonder, and I can’t say I particularly enjoy it, or at least not always. But sometimes my mind is like a kite up in the sky, a kite that I’m struggling to move tenderly, without sharp movements that may cause a swirl of air to take it, to take my mind somewhere on unknown paths without me being able to control it… And here it goes again.

Perhaps you’ve tried to spend some time without thinking at certain memories, perhaps you’ve waited for time to distort them, cause that’s what time does. But one day you see/smell/hear/taste/feel/think something, and… it’s like Pandora’s box. Once the memories start coming, there’s no way you can stop them from overwhelming you. And rather than trying to force them back in, back to some hidden corners of your mind where you can barely reach them, why not spare that room for other memories that are soon to come? I prefer not to keep all the memories inside my mind, cause I’m afraid that I’ll get lost amongst them, that they’ll perish in time, vanish or perhaps mix with other memories… And I prefer to try and keep them intact. So rather than storing them somewhere in my brain, why not put them on a paper, and let them there?… And when you want to remember, you can read about them. It’s better like that instead of thinking about them uncontrollably, which may make you live in the past.

This idea reminded me of a quote: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Do we keep thinking about past memories because there were far better times than now? Perhaps. But we don’t always walk down the memory lane and find ourselves surrounded only with pleasant thoughts; or perhaps they were pleasant at some point, but not so pleasant now. This, again, reminded me of something. Of an idea I wrote down at some point before starting this blog, and I’m a little afraid to read it cause I expect memories to start flooding. But anyway, here it is:
It’s not fair to love someone for how they used to be. It’s not fair and right to live in the past. The thing is that it’s involuntary. It’s not your fault that your brain gives you those memories when it remembers something.[…] Should you live in the past, lying yourself with feelings that existed then, and now are becoming altered by your memories and by how many times you’ve overused them? No, or else you risk to remain caught there, amongst memories. And you’ll miss the present, and the chance to a proper future.

So whether your everlasting memories are about that sweet forbidden kiss or about when you found yourself surrounded by waves crushing you to the rocks and you had no idea how that happened to you, stop right there. They’re all long gone and not coming back for real. Just try to keep up with life.


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