Defining human life is eminently difficult. To think deeply on it seems to fall within the province of would be dreary philosophers; to put it in lean terms might be an affront to many who – without a choice – traversed the cruel marshes of human poverty and horrific sickness; and to be expressed through faith is an intellectually dishonest simplification. Living is both complex and simple, and will not yield to being so simply captured in a phrase. It has a right to be stubborn.
For me though, life is nothing more than the acquisition of memories. From the day we breathe, it has been a grand treadmill in which memories are ceaselessly produced, one more vivid than the other. Life is but a dizzy swirl of memories, a deeply personal repository of dreams, a limitless hinterlands of what we were and will be.
Don’t memories define our personalities and decisions? When we are hurt, we learn from the first painful memory how to avoid it as best as we can. We use memories to look back at ourselves and define a new point for us to aspire towards. To be a better person must first depend on our memories of failures. As such, we live by memories and die by them. Nothing is more contemptible than to be robbed of memories through disease or age.
But there is also nothing more pleasurable than holding on to unique memories. Perhaps it’s the first time we are drawn very closely to someone we bind very deeply with and we go through a mighty struggle to make sense of it all; if not, maybe it’s the thrill of something forbidden – the more it’s not allowed, the more we want it, the more we crave for it; or it might be the first taste of genuine power, the drawing of first blood, and it becomes richly intoxicating.
These haikus of memories are waypoints for our future decisions. As we filter through them, decisions are narrowed. Based on these pillars of memories and with a little reflection on the side, we kind of figure out what we want in a friend, job or soulmate. And memories never really fade. Even traumatic memories that are deliberately left unpacked and forgotten continue to nudge us, ever so slightly, towards what we like and should avoid.
Life then is a train of memories, always moving forward, always charting new vistas and tracking the lows and highs. Who we like, who we love, what we become, and what we decide to do for the rest of our lives, is perhaps not the mystery we might believe it to be. We need not look to the unknown stars in the dusky sky or the vast firmament of our imagination for answers. We need only to look within the rich albums we already have.
Isn’t life nothing more than the acquisition of memories?
So have you thought about (HYTA) what memories are especially important to you?