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Museum of Memory


Saturday, February 10, 2024


Did you know I used to feel as if I had to water myself down for people? To put on a mask that portrayed whatever was fashionable at the time? To tote the blurred lines that might lump me into a box?

I can't believe that.

I can't believe the roller coaster it's been and I'm only 24-years-old! I can't believe the amount of healing I've done and the growth I've had in such a short time span.

A year ago, I'd have told you my bones were hollow, and my eyes could see nothing but gray. I'd have felt as if I was too little or too much, depending on the day—two choices so restrictive and confining!

Now, things are different. Things are good. I feel the healthiest I've ever felt, the strongest, and the most energetic. I feel the most healed. The most whole and complete; no longer scattered pieces of sorrow and shame. I feel like I'm becoming whom I'm supposed to be.

I pray to God this is what maturity feels like. I pray to Him this is the meaning of a mended heart, a restored soul, a thriving temple, and a stout mind. Whether or not it is, I thank Him for it.

Recently, too, I've been surrounded by good people. I try to tell them how much I appreciate them, but I don't think I articulate it quite right sometimes. It's like I can't speak fast enough and with the right words to describe exactly what I'm trying to describe to them. Then also, the idea of depth spoken aloud will always be socially dangerous in my mind. I often find myself changing subjects mid-sentence when I'm speaking, particularly to avoid anything delicate or unpleasant. (A bad habit I've picked up out of fear, although I doubt I ought to worry around those with whom I'm comfortable). Words on paper always did seem more fulfilling than the spoken ones, so I'll still resort to writing the depth of my thoughts on paper just to be safe.

When I'm with my friends, I enjoy my time. That's how I know they're good company, because many times I prefer being alone—and I often relish my time alone. They make me forget about silly things like money or worries or flaws or recognition. Their humor and kindness are palpable, and their personalities are genuine. These things I do not say lightly.

Though, what can come with well-spent time is future-oriented perspectives. It can be quite fun to think of the future; like the uncertainty of it. For instance, I wonder where we'll all be in a decade's time. I pray we'll still know one another, but if we happen to spread our wings just a bit wider than we first expected, then I wonder if we'll still remember our experiences together. All I know is, I look forward to seeing them grow into the people they want to be. And that is enough. Memory or not, that is enough.

Over the years, I've learned something influential that I love to do when it feels right for me. I've made it a process for when I'd like to remember something specific. Typically, it's quiet when I want to orchestrate it, or when I'm with people, there's a lull in the conversation. I take a deep breath and soak everything in using each of my five senses. It doesn't normally take too long, and I've realized others never seem to notice it. It helps because time itself seems to slow.

The most recent time I employed this process was when my friends and I went hiking. I let them walk ahead of me and tied my strides with theirs so they wouldn't hear me when I stopped. The wind and their conversations with each other also helped, but even after I stopped, I knew I couldn't wait too long behind them before they noticed I was gone.

As they rounded a bend, I noted the way they walked, and the colors of their packs, clothes, and shoes. I even marked their braided, curly, or straight hair along with their colors too. I heard the crunch of the dirt beneath their feet, and I reached down and grabbed a handful of it, kneading it between my palms and fingers. I saw the striations of the canyons around us and their burnt, earthy tones of white, orange, and brown. I tasted the water I had left, listened to the wind and the birds, and breathed in the outdoor air.

In some of the most peaceful and fulfilling moments of my life I remember tilting my face toward the sun and closing my eyes. I did the same here and felt the warmth of it along with the coolness of the breeze. And for a moment, everything stopped.

I had it—time.

There was nothing but pristine calmness. A serenity the likes of which I pray everyone will feel at least once in their life.

Every time I conduct this ritual of mine, I remember every glimpse in vivid detail as if I were staring at a tangible painting. It's like the world stops for a split second; just enough time for me to etch my experience into memory.

You wouldn't believe the stillness of it all. And neither would you believe the museum of memories I've collected thus far. I assure you; they could fill a coliseum!

Before long, I heard my name called out ahead, and so I responded. When I rounded the corner, my friends were waiting for me to catch up at the top of a small slope. They asked me what took me so long and I told them, though I hesitated, and my words were choppy. I hadn't ever told anyone about my mindfulness techniques for fear of being branded as a bit out of the box, but they didn't seem to take it that way, and I appreciated that.

It's odd sometimes, thinking of the future. It's an odd notion to recognize the vast majority of us will never be remembered in time. Never immortalized through writing, film, or even nostalgia. How many of us know the great, great, greats of our families?

Perhaps that's what life is really about. Perhaps we're not supposed to worry about living for money, recognition, or fame, and we're just supposed to practice drinking everything in.

I'm beginning to believe that's all we can try to do—enjoy it. So, by the grace of God, I will.

Translation I: Be grateful for the good people in your life.

Translation II: Be intentional with your memories.
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