Blog Post May 2017 – Redefining Memory
(Apologies for the prolonged absence, I was so busy with college exams! But now, life hereafter begins.)
I have always been obsessed with memory, though ‘obsessed’ does not feel like the right word. Truly, my preoccupation with memory is ingrained in how I live. I document everything and save every morsel of information any important experience. When I was seven, this translated into saving the chewing gum packet from the day of my cousin’s christening – I wanted to remember the day I realized I adored her. Now, I keep more practical records and less general rubbish, but my fear of forgetting has in no way diminished. If I was to psychoanalyze this I might come to the conclusion that I have been forever effecting by my grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. For now, I’d rather not, because the result is the same, whatever the cause. I savor memories above all else.
I was ten-years-old when I discovered the joy that an autograph book can bring to a child. It was late May when I took my book to school, tucked into the front of my red Sporthouse rucksack. I asked everyone on my classroom’s side of the basketball court to sign their names for me. I watched as my best friends painstakingly drew love hearts on the corners of the pages with a glittery, silver gel pen. I watched as the boys tried to think of something both funny and rude to write before they handed it back and ran away laughing. I didn’t care, in truth, what they wrote was the immortalisation of someone’s signature and felt like I was holding a link to their lives which they had unwittingly surrendered. I felt sacred.
When I came home from school that day I made sure that my sister and cousin, who lives only a quick pedal up the cow’s road on my metallic pink bike, also signed. When there was only two pages left, I remembered my parents- arguably the most important signature I could possibly procure. My mother was in front of the kitchen window when I thrust my book under her nose. She laughed and asked me what I wanted her to write. I shrugged and said that it didn’t matter once I had her writing on record, forever more. Handing the little blue book back to me, she told me that she wrote one of life’s most valuable lessons for me to always remember. And there, where the childish scrawls stopped, her adult font began was inked;
Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe.
This is not the part in this post where I say that at the time I didn’t understand the relevance of that message, but now I do. No, in truth, I think that the number of people one should love or trust in life is all too dependant on the selection of people you encounter.
What I do believe in, however, is attraction. It is my belief that I attract certain people and experiences to my life, depending upon the experience which I exude from who I am each day. Each day, I strive to consciously be kinder in both my actions and thoughts. I work to do this despite the bad press I may gain as being unwilling to have fun, or simply laugh at someone else, however innocently. Yet, it is my belief and experience that should I exude an inner inability to be cruel at another person’s expense, I will attract people of similar ways of thinking into my life.
In short, I do not believe in many of life’s usual tropes and ‘meant-to-be’s. Should we accept the pain or happiness which our thoughts, words and actions can enact, than we might see that our experiences in life are far from fated – but much more likely to be self-created.
I try to use this knowledge whenever I have to make decisions. Besides my initial consideration of whether or not my would-be action will hurt someone else, I try to only consider how happy it will make me. To my mind, there is no meant to be. There is only what brings you experiences of happiness and what doesn’t – and our ability to prioritise our happiness.
Of course, I don’t always do this. I prioritise appearances over exhilaration often. For example, I recently gained an exclusive meeting with a literary agent at the International Literary Festival in Dublin where I was selected by an agent to come and speak with her about how best to pitch my novel to publishers. Hundreds and hundreds of authors applied for this and only fifteen were chosen based on the merits of their novels. This is both an honour and a direct manifestation of my diligent work ethic and creativity. I am tireless in seeking new opportunities and executing them until I succeed. And yet, I felt anxious when it came to posting about this victory to social media, in case others perceived me as self-centered or egotistical.
Yet that evening I logged into instagram and saw a boy from my hometown had posted a picture of him holding a football trophy into the air. In the photo, he looked exhilarated, just as I felt when I receive the email of my success. For him, this was one more step towards the championship, for me, this is one more step towards publication. There is no difference in these two experiences as the emotions which are stirred up are equally as joyous. What is different, however, is how quickly our motivations changed as I became motivated by a fear of inac
curate perception. In doing so, I immediately lost sight of my own happiness as being inherently more important than the nanosecond opinion of others. This is no better than being queen of a distant island dependant upon its natural resources, and concerning myself with the changeable weather of the mainland.
This is how I shall remember such a success of my work at writing my novel. I painstakingly crafted every inch of the 140’000 word count and I do believe that this invitation to the Literary Festival is just a beginning of my professional writing career. Yet, I will always remember how I felt shame at screaming of my success. That’s the problem with memories. When you make it your business to recall every milestone perfectly, you cannot pick and choose between the positives and negatives.
So, this is me. Now, learning from one experience and meshing it with another. I am shrieking, bellowing and booming, standing on top of the highest mountain and screaming of my success. I am stamping my feet and shouting, willing others to remember me as I invent my new memory. If every coming day was to be my last, than my memory would be redefined over and over again – and from now, my memory will be born with pride.
As always I’ll be writing again soon, so goodbye for now,