Life's Greatest Treasure: Why We Should Value Our Memories
In my short almost 26 years, I have graduated from having minimal fears to having weird fears.
I have the standard ones, like going broke and not being able to pay for my car, letting down people I care about and a handful of other weird, irrational fears.
However, one very real fear of mine is suffering from memory loss.
I am absolutely terrified of developing Alzheimer’s. When my best friend told me her dad was suffering from early stages, I first felt sad for her and her wonderful family.
Then, as I thought about it later that night, I began to think of what it would be like to be going through the disease myself.
I know I would be terrified. My mind is kind of all I have; it’s my best asset. If I didn't have that anymore, who would I even be?
Granted, there is definitely not a history of it in my family, and it’s unlikely that I’ll develop it, but with emails every other day asking, “Are you at risk? Have you started your exercises?
Download this app NOW to sharpen your mind," I start to wonder if it’s just going to happen anyway.
How horrible would it be to look at the faces of the ones you love and not recognize them?
To forget where you placed your keys five minutes ago or where you live or your most told stories?
What would it be like to look at a photo and not remember taking it, let alone the location or date?
That’s one of my deepest fears, especially as a writer.
When I look around my bedroom, I am surrounded by memories.
There are pictures of my friends, concert ticket stubs, Broadway playbills, Comic-Con badges, chocolate from Austria, a trinket from here, a random bauble from there.
Everything I am surrounded by is attached to a memory, and each person I love is a collection to remind me what I’ve experienced.
Our memories, as clichéd as it sounds, are our greatest treasures.
Without them, we wouldn’t have stories to tell each other.
We wouldn’t be able to lose ourselves in a daydream of a vacation behind us, or the promise of a great one ahead in a boring class or tedious workday.
We flip through scrapbooks, click through photo streams and remember all the best parts. Or, we cry for the pain they bring up.
One of my favorite aspects of being a writer is paying attention to detail. I love noticing small idiosyncrasies or the way someone’s hair never stays in place.
When setting up a scene or even just telling a story about something in my life, you need to use as much detail as possible.
What did it smell like? How did it make me feel? Did the heat stick to your skin?
Did the Paris Metro really smell like absolute garbage? (Okay, if I could forget anything, it would be that.)
I detail my personal and travel journals with as much description as possible, so when I go back and read it or allow my future children to see what I did with my life, it would be easy to slip into the memory.
Because it’s not just the memory itself we cling to; we cling to the emotions it evokes and remember how a certain place, person or day made us feel.
We laugh at our own, our friends’ and random people’s stupidity.
We think about how good food tasted, and we complain about how long a line was in the dead of summer.
We swoon when we find a love letter we tucked away and maybe even shed a tear or two.
We remember the time you and your friend jumped into each other mid-air during the Inferi scene in "The Half-Blood Prince."
Memories are what give our lives meaning. They help us cope when our loved ones leave us, whether unexpectedly or after a long struggle.
They help us get over breakups and spend drunken nights with our friends reminiscing.
They enrich our time spinning webs of people, places and things over the course of our lifetimes.
Protect your treasure chest of sparkling memories, you lovely humans.
Do your Sudoku, read for 15 minutes a day, eat super foods and write it all down.
Try not to fear what may or may not happen, and whatever you do, never let yourself become afraid of making new memories.