The Way We Remember

After I posted 50 Facts, a friend mentioned to me that she didn't know if she could write one herself. And it got me thinking in tangents about things I thought about writing here a while back when I had little time to blog but plenty of inner-chatter to chat out, if you know what I mean.

I explained to her that truthfully, that list of 50 took me a few years to complete. A little idea jumping out here and there on occasion, and usually while procrastinating on some other dreadfully long-winded task, like putting together old photo albums on Shutterfly. Gah.

Yes, somehow it was easier to dig deep and confide some tidbit when I was supposed to be doing something else. I think it's the power of the subconscious when you allow it to work in the background and await it's results rather than pushing and striving all the time, which is apparantly what has happened to me since exiting college a decade+ ago. A tidbit that I'm ambivilant about at times.

But it also got me thinking again about how we formulate our memories. Because it was honestly hard for me to write a pleasant and entertaining list of 50 facts about myself without venturing off into either major introspection or trauma-and-hard times. And not because my whole life has been full of those things, but more because those are the memories I seem to store at a shallower, easier to access level. Like my framing of the world as a child growing up tended to be ultra-sensitive and more a list of grievances rather than an adventure story or humourous comedy that I've known others to hold onto dearly and share freely.

So when I met my husband, I learned quite quickly that not everyone stores memories in this quite depressing manner that I seem to. Because he tells memories with laughter and smiles. His are stories our children ask to here again and again and again, because they're funny and rich and real, balanced with a healthy sense of humor. Being stung by a man-o-war is a hilarious tale of brotherhood and sibling ranks in his world. Being stuffed into a cardboard box and sent to "Hong Kong Phooey" by imaginative brothers is less about being victimized and more about his brothers getting their due kick in the patootie afterward. Even tarantulas crossing the road become bigger than life in his magical world of transformative memory making!

And when my children ask me to tell a story from childhood, my first accessible stories are cringe-worthy. I wrinkle my nose and search out another memory and continue like this until I find some memory I can attempt to funny-up a bit for them. Because my memories were stored like little trauma capsules. And when I realize this I wonder what it would have been like to hear stories from my own family while growing up. Stories that made me laugh and groan and feel one with the hilarity and irony of the world. What if I had learned to frame my memories in the moment as tellable tales of intrigue and wit?

At one point I thought perhaps I should sift through and re-convert a handful of memories from my child perspective into story form just so I can join in, if for anything, in order to provide another healthy model for these children of mine. Because growing up I remember hearing stories of trauma. Memories of hate, dysfunction and deep thought. But not necessarily healthy coping. Maybe this is my reminder. A task for me to take on. Maybe I should challenge myself to come up with three I can share here. Hmmmmmm...

Do any of you have advice on this front? Ways you consciously store memories and shape them into more palatable, less serious chapters? Thoughts/ideas?

Join me at RosieDreams, where I share a simple, ethical, green approach to family living. 

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