All of Those Yesterdays Coming Down

The set of what I’d consider the most salient memories of my life thus far largely takes place under the cool blanket of the night. It exists along the breezy horizons and fluorescent street lights, along barren or packed roads, sometimes alone or otherwise at least feeling alone – it exists underneath the tall buildings, surrounded and romanticized by a misremembering haze and let to filter in a sieve for so long that only the good aspects of my memories remain, a comfortable half-truth of their realities.

It’s interesting how memories deceive us. As I understand it, the only time we actually remember the event itself is the first time we recall it. Every subsequent recollection thereafter is not actually a recollection of said event, but of the last time we remembered the event. On a long enough timescale, all our memories are subject to romanticization – a long, long game of “telephone.” I’m human, just like you, and the realm in which my consciousness wanders in my mind is no different. My memories, too, are romanticized.

Time filtered out the uglinesses of whatever then-present I resided in. The memory slowly drifted away from the reality and because I subconsciously recoil at the aspects of memories that make me uncomfortable, every time I recalled the memory, I allowed it to become more and more distorted and romanticized. Eventually, all that is left of the memory are the parts I subconsciously enjoy recalling – the parts that make me happy and look back at the past in longing for.

Perhaps there’s a different truth: that the negativities of memories were perhaps not washed away by the brain’s subconscious desire for happiness and ignorance of pain, but because it no longer holds any value to us because we are more mature at the time of recollection and therefore, we’ve overcome those past obstacles.

I may have nostalgic memories of playing video games in a warmly lit bedroom as a child. The memory is pure and plain, conveniently forgetting pain. How old was I? I probably had at least some shred of anxiety from homework I was probably procrastinating on at that point, or worries and loneliness from my parents not having returned home yet as they worked long into the night during my childhood. I was probably worried about whichever classmate I liked that week at that point in my life, perhaps a little bit upset that I couldn’t have all the toys in the world (not yet old enough to understand the concept of money), and whatever other billion things little-child-me probably had in his mind – all conveniently forgotten to the deception of my own recollection. Either I conveniently forget because my brain eventually remembered less of the unpleasant parts over time, filtering out all the unhappinesses, or perhaps I forget because… it just doesn’t matter to me anymore. Whatever classmate I probably had a crush on back then? – they aren’t a part of my world today. Whatever homework I had to do? – I certainly don’t have to still do it now in my early 20s. Whatever things I wanted? – my wants today are far different and typically just revolve around my basic needs for housing and food on the table.

From that memory, what does matter to me, what does have value to me today, is that I was happy and content then. I was a child. I was safe. I was far from the realities of the world that growing up exposed me to later on. I was a child, and the memory of me playing video games in a warmly lit room in the middle of the night was – is – pure. It’s nostalgic and conveniently ignores all the pain I went through back then, but who cares anymore? I overcame that pain. I grew and now I’m me, today. I don’t need to hold onto my pain anymore. I can hold onto me – the part that is free, the part that is happy, the part that can be me.

Perhaps our memories deceive us, but maybe we should let them. What harm is there in letting our memories be romanticized? The pains we faced then have been overcome a long time ago. Let’s let ourselves let go of our pain. Let’s move on. Let’s move forward, and perhaps one day, we will be able to let go of the pain we hold onto today as well.

Happy trails.